Finally, a permit has been approved and New City Park development can begin – again.

By Staff

Burlington, On – April 11, 2011 – Finally, the City of Burlington received  notice that the development permit conditionally  approved by the Niagara Escarpment Commission for New City Park in July 2010 has been approved by the province. Not everyone is happy with the decision but at least there is a decision and the project can now move forward.

It all started with the Pan Am Games.  Some don’t think we got very much of that pie.

It all started with the Pan Am Games. Some don’t think we got very much of that pie.

New City Park is a development of 165-acre (67-hectare) at the corner of Dundas Street and Kerns Road that began in May 2010. It as to be home of the Burlington part of the PanAm games but got tied up in a couple of bureaucratic knots.  When Burlington’s participation in the PanAm games fell apart

The Niagara Escarpment Commission issued a permit for phase one, on site grading works, in May 2010.  Construction on the play fields stopped in July 2010 when a citizen appeal for the phase two of the construction was filed with the NEC.

On Oct. 5, 2010, a Niagara Escarpment Hearing Office hearing was held to consider the appeal.  The hearing officer’s report and recommendations from that hearing were filed with the Ministry of Natural Resources in December 2010 for the minister’s review. The minister had the task of reviewing the recommendations of the Hearing Officer and making a decision on whether or not the development permit should be approved.

In a decision dated April 7, 2011, Natural Resources Minister Linda Jeffrey directed the NEC to issue a development permit allowing the city’s park development to resume. Preparation to resume construction will begin next week with full construction on site expected to resume in early May .

“When completed, New City Park will be the city’s largest park, offering a stunning view of the Niagara Escarpment and a variety of active and passive recreation options,” said Mayor Rick Goldring. “The province’s support of the NEC decision means the city can provide this much-needed park to the people of Burlington while making use of the previously approved stimulus money.”  The location of the park – on the Burlington-Hamilton border will make it more accesible to Hamilton people than those in Burlington

The city bought the lands for New City Park in 2002 in partnership with the Bruce Trail Association. In May 2009, the city applied for funding under the Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Program and was successful in getting $4.6 million in senior government funding for the first phase of the new park. This was matched by $2.3 million in city funding. Under that funding arrangement, work on phases receiving Stimulus Funding must be completed by October 2011. With al that money on the table there is going to be a lot of construction equipment re-shaping empty fields into public parkland.

Development of the park can now begin.  Going to be a bit of a rush to spend the Stimulus money before the bank closes
Development of the park can now begin. Going to be a bit of a rush to spend the Stimulus money before the bank closes

When completed, New City Park will include sports fields, playgrounds, trails, a pond/wetland, a pavilion, open space areas, natural areas and supporting amenities.

“The city has worked closely with the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the province at every stage of this project,” said Allan Magi, Burlington’s executive director of strategic corporate initiatives. “We are excited to resume the construction of this magnificent park which will result in much-needed additional recreation facilities for the citizens of Burlington as well as significant restoration and protection of the sensitive escarpment lands.”

The BIG issue for many is the use of synthetic turf on some of the soccer fields which some do not feel is all the environmentally friendly. The lack of serious public involvement was a concern to Burlington Green as well as Holton who has been very vocal with her views on the use of synthetic turf but her voice seemed to be facing a xxx

On its web site Burlington Green said it understood that “no other park of the 130 protected by the Niagara Escarpment Plan Open Space System (NEPOSS) has synthetic turf.   The park as part of the Niagara Escarpment is UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve designated which aims to “maintain, ensure, protect and preserve” the natural environment for future generations.” But that battle seems to have been lost at a time when the Burlington Youth Soccer Club takes the air out of one of its domes to replace the turf on one of its soccer fields. One of the issues about that synthetic turf replacement is what will be done with the synthetic turf that is no longer useful? Peter Summers told a council committee meeting that they are working with the turf manufacturers to determine how best to dispose of the synthetic material. That problem doesn’t yet have a solution that is both clear and satisfactory to everyone.

BurlingtonGreen’s position was that the city should not proceed with any additional artificial turf installations until more comprehensive research is conducted on the environmental, financial and health considerations of this product and that the findings be effectively communicated to the citizens of Burlington. That argument has been lost and Burlington is now going to have a number of park locations with artificial turf and the product may be approved for residential use in the city. Apparently there is just no stopping progress.

For Margaret Lindsay Holton, who has been consistently vocal on he way the park was being developed, the good news last Friday was that Spring has sprung!! For her the rest of the news was about as bad as it could get. “The decision is” an eco-disgrace”, she said. Many felt the argument at the appeal level (this stuff gets very confusing) was over the use of artificial turf but that turned out not to be the case. The issue for the hearing officer was about the proposed size of the parking lots and the size of the as-yet-unseen plan for the stadium. Given his recommendations, the Ministry of Natural Resources has made the decision that the Niagara Escarpment Commission could re-issue the Development Permit, provided certain new ‘conditions’ were met.

Margaret Lindsay Holton says: “the way is seemingly now clear for this noxious product to go in to the park without
a proper Environmental Impact Assessment.

According to Holton three fields of plastic grass are going into New City Park. Mayor Rick Goldring, who once ran as a Green Party candidate, feels that is wonderful and Alan Magi, Acting Executive Director Corporate Strategic Initiatives sees it as magnificent for the city

A tireless advocate for the environment, looses to synthetic turf in New City Park

A tireless advocate for the environment, looses to synthetic turf in New City Park

Holton, a rather forlorn comment says: “by the look of it, the two natural
playing fields that were proposed in future development will not be permitted now because the increased intensity of use afforded by the artificial turf will stress the carrying capacity of the park to the max. Great eh? No REAL grass playing fields at ALL.. All in all, Burlington will be the first park within the vaulted NEPOSS park system of 130 parks supposedly protected by the Greenbelt Act to get plastic grass.”

Holton adds: “But, for now, the MNR ‘decision’ of yesterday is final, as flawed as it now is. PanAm is getting their park to their design, in collusion with Burlington City ‘Corporate Strategic Planners’. The public, citizens of Burlington & local residents, per se, have had little to nothing to do with this final ‘PanAm’ design. And, as such, it is a solid slap in the face to all Burlington taxpayers. It is we who will pay and pay and pay for this PanAm plastic grass in perpetuity, not the local ‘soccer club’ , or the fleeting PanAm org who will decamp after one month of ‘tournament’ play on their fenced-in FIFA-2 certified artificial turf in 2015”

Holton is certainly passionate in her views. Is she right? Too early to tell, but synthetic turf is here.



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3 comments to Finally, a permit has been approved and New City Park development can begin – again.

  • No E.I.A has been done that evaluates the use of artificial turf in New City Park. The hydro-technical studies were signed off and completed in 2005/6. The component parts of artificial turf were not identified until LONG AFTERWARD until the Hearing, Oct 5th, 2010. HOW can any E.I.A have been done that is ACCURATE to the FACT?

    As per the Ministry Ruling, a PROPER Environmental Impact Assessment must now be done that INCLUDES an evaluation of all aspects of plastic grass that meets the requirements of Conservation Halton, the Region of Halton and the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

  • p.s. For those who do ‘get this’, please sign our petition below. Every time another 25 names are added, it’s going straight to Council. Mayor included. Thanks all. Lindsay

  • Hi Pepper, not bad coverage, except for two important points:

    1) The Park we are now getting was NOT the park we were supposed to get. PanAm monies, in collusion with City, RE-DESIGNED this formerly GOOD park – in the 11th hour – to meet PanAm site requirements. FACT. Now, THREE fenced-in fields of artificial turf are going in as one massive ‘cluster’ with no screening vegetation. Look at that Development Permit.

    2) NO Environmental Impact Assessment has EVER been done that evaluates the affects of artificial turf on the EXISTING and FINITE water resources of the park or the existing biology of the park. Those who claim that this has been done, ie. in 2005/6/7, need to EXPLAIN how this COULD have been done when the components of artificial turf were not IDENTIFIED until the Hearing on October 10th, 2010!(ie. plastic yarn, plastic substrate, rubber-tire ‘rubber crumb’ (equal to 20,000 crushed tires for ONE field), and rubber ‘infill’ (a loose granular product used to keep the plastic grass ‘yarn’ vertical). Compound this with the VOLUME of TONS of this material coming into this former natural parkland area, and we’ve got an eco-disaster-in-the-making.

    Mark my xxx words, this Decision is one that our children and their children will live to regret. It is THEY who will keep paying to replace this plastic grass in perpetuity every 5-10 years.

    For those who still think plastic grass in this rural setting is appropriate, consider this –

    Is THIS the kind of parkland legacy we SHOULD be leaving for the next generation? Is this GOOD stewardship of our FINITE resources? I think not.