Public gets first look at the design for Beachway Park: it is almost five character parks strung together

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 8, 2015


It was a meeting with a number of agendas – the people whose homes were going to be replaced by parkland at some point in the future wanted to make their agenda the prime one but the event was to give citizens a chance to see what the first cut of a design for the Beachway park would look like – they got more than their money’s worth.

Another agenda was for the Regional Staff in attendance to assure everyone that there were no plans to expropriate anyone’s property – but during the presentation the phrase “priority properties” was used a number of times.

Full view with Scobie

Citizens get their first look at the design of the Beachway Park – there won’t be much built until the hospital construction is complete but when done the park will consist of five character areas that respect the environment and allow for all kinds of activities. The dark blue area will be the major swimming location.

The Mayor was on hand – he didn’t speak – stood silently at the back of the room but got vocal when the Cogeco news camera was turned on.

McIlroy Anne

Anne McIlroy and her team which included planners from the city created the design. McIlroy has done a lot of work for both the city and the Region in the past.

Council members representing the eastern side of the city didn’t make an appearance – the park land is Regional property and but how the park development is going to be paid for has yet to be worked out. Anne McIlroy, the outside consultant told the audience that the team has only just begun to get into what it will cost to develop the park.

Some staff members were assuring people that nothing was going to happen overnight – that this was a 40 to 50 year project. During the presentation McIlroy left the distinct impression that it was possible to do parts of the park in the near future.

The different agendas clashed at times but setting the politics of all this aside – and they do smell – the design that was shown to the public last night is exceptionally good.

It is sensitive to the environment within which it is going to be developed and it allows for a number of different uses of the space.

It is almost five different parks strung together.  The west end of Spencer Smith Park is the beginning of the Beachway. This section is directly opposite the Joseph Brant Hospital and the Joseph Brant Museum. Lakeshore Road, which will lead to the Beachway Park, is to be widened and raised and become a three lane road with a bicycle lane as well.

Living Shoreline

The Living Shoreline section of the Beachway Park will begin where Spencer Smith Park ends. It will include a gas powered fire pit; a native interpretation centre and a shore line boardwalk.

On the lakeside of the road the park area will be called the Living Shoreline.  This portion of the park will have shelters, a gas fed fire pit that will be used for special occasions. There will be a native interpretation centre and a shoreline boardwalk.

The trail that is built upon the old railway bed will remain much the same in this part of the Beachway Park.
This Living Shoreline will tie into parts of the western end of Spencer Smith – almost reach back to the compass in Spencer Smith.

The hospital parking garage and the hospital itself will be on the other side of the road. The Living Shoreline will stretch west to the Ministry of Transportation property.

Each of the Beachway Park sections will transition into each other with Beacons – which weren’t all that clearly explained – to demark the different parts of the larger park.


The Strand section of the Beachway Park will be the major swimming area and will include the pavilion, rest rooms. rental area.

The next section – working west – will be called The Strand. This section will have a very active beach – it is to be the major swimming area. The Pavilion will be in this section – one hopes that Pavilion is given a major upgrade. The Pump House – referred to as the “rental” place will be in this section. The Catamaran Club will be in this section as well.

There will be parking in this area – what was pretty clear from the drawings was that parking is not going to dominate. Mention was made of shuttle buses that would be used. If the assumption is that the hospital parking lot can handle the weekend traffic – that needs to be re-thought.

Wind Beach

The Wind Beach section of the Beachway Park will reach to the canal and include significant improvements to the pier area.

On the west of the Strand is what will be called The Wind Beach. It will end at the Canal which the park designers hope to turn into a much more inviting location with a better interface with the lift bridge.
The intention is to tie the Burlington Beachway Park to the Hamilton side and ideally see more bike traffic between the two cities.

At the very end of Lakeshore, where Lakeshore Court is located – a couple of yards from the Burlington start of the Waterfront Trail the Commons will exist. This part of the park will be more sports orientated. There will be volley ball courts, a storm water pond, a bacchii ball location, shade areas, and outdoor pavilions that can be used for market and art sales.

Beachway meeting April7-15 full house

By the time the meeting started there wasn’t an empty seat in the room with dozens of people standing.

The Skyway federal pier area will have Eastport Road cutting through it which creates some design challenges.
What wasn’t at all clear during the presentation was how parking would be handled. Many argued that the 27 private homes in the Beachway should not be torn down to create parking spaces. The drawings that were shown last night did not seem to have acres of parking.

McIlroy + Stirling Todd

The Beachway Park is a Regional initiative that will be run by the city of Burlington. Anne McIlroy on the left talks with Stirling Todd, Senior Regional Planner on the right.

What the public saw Tuesday evening at the Art Gallery was a decent first look – the questions for the most part were related to how the city was going to create a park on land they didn’t own.
That question is a Regional political issue and Burlington lost its chance to have an impact in 2013.

As parks go – what Anne McIlroy and her team put together is quality work – if they ever get to build it will be a well-used part of the city.

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10 comments to Public gets first look at the design for Beachway Park: it is almost five character parks strung together

  • helene skinner

    Mr. Stevenson,
    You are right on the money! And their comments were “leave it as it is”…over 3000 of them…petitions that were physically handed in during a delegation and were publically tossed aside by a council member. 3000 regular Beachway users were IGNORED!!! 3000 Halton tax payers were IGNORED!!

    Yearinthepast: Perhaps you haven’t been following…there is a budget…which includes government funding to rebuild and relocate Lakeshore Road and also you will note that the Region has already started purchasing some of the homes and are aggressively working to get them all!! Any questions, you can contact me directly at because I am a Beachway resident.

  • G. Stevenson

    No doubt about it, the company hired to create the plan did a magnificent job at putting the plan to paper. But I wouldn’t go so far as to call this the Burlington Regional Waterfront “master plan”. I would call it a proposed vision. When you are speaking of decades to complete; still needing approvals from local, regional, provincial and federal governments and authorities; the need to understand fully the funding and budget impacts…. then there is a long way to go before this is a concrete master plan. Ms. Gillies, you speak strategically, and coldly, when looking at this matter. Many, like the residents who either currently live on the Beachway or in close proximity, or others who have a real interest, are speaking with their heads and their hearts. Who can blame them? This grandiose vision – its Disneyland Burlington, except apparently the hydro towers will remain…. maybe they can paint them in bright colours. Oh, and no motorized watercraft please. It’s not the place for motorized watercraft, so the audience was told. So I guess we can call it a passive Disneyland. And, the water vessels we see each summer that come to Burlington’s waterfront from Toronto, Hamilton, Port Dalousie, Oakville, Port Credit and anchor a few feet off shore on a beautiful summer’s day to enjoy the beach…. I guess they will be no longer welcomed in the future.

    Burlington’s neighbour across the lift bridge had similar plans decades ago and started to buy up properties. But then the light bulb came on… the decision makers found that the price tag was just too high and that a grandiose scheme wasn’t needed to bring people to the waterfront. The waterfront brings people to the waterfront. An up and coming Beach Community is now striving across the lift bridge, thanks to forward thinking, and smart future planning!!

    So, what is so wrong with Burlington’s waterfront now? It ain’t broke. If there are parking issues now, then hooray, people are enjoying a jewel in the rough. A place to lay a blanket, have a picnic, and go for a dip in the lake free of charge. What is so wrong with that?? Why is it wrong now and decades from now??

    I’m just so confused. We have to protect life as the Beachway is in a floodplain, yet we’ll pay the price to add more structures for people to visit; we have to protect the dunes and naturalized areas, but we’ll add more pavilions and washroom facilities; we’ll add a natural gas fireplace feature that will be used on special occasions… what is it when it’s not in use? Is this plan/vision really, really needed? Maybe the regional taxpayers should be asked the question. Wonder just how many people in Oakville, Milton, Halton Hills and even in Burlington are screaming YES to this long term plan? I would suggest the answer would be more like “never even knew there was a beach, and I don’t have plans to visit it now or in the future”. Or if they did know about the Beachway their comments would be more like “Oh, is that across the street from the waste water treatment plant, and where you hear all the noise from the Skyway bridge?”

    Yep, more than likely I will be long gone from this world before this “plan” comes to fruition. But decisions are being made now… and I’m a taxpayer now. I should have my say as to whether this a good “plan”, now and for the future. And so should all current regional taxpayers.

  • Yearinthepast

    Remember the old ‘Master Plan’ not sure if it was ’87 or ’94. The one with the Science Center. It did not happen and neither will this. It’s is constant evolution. They do not have a budget or a timeline. Without a budget or timeline it cannot be called a ‘plan’ at all. It is more of a ‘Formal Updated Vision’. Similar to the ‘Comprehensive Report’ from a couple years ago. It was not comprehensive. It was a 200 page commenting report.

  • Helen Skinner

    NO myth Shannon!!!!

  • Shannon Gillies

    So planners have a beautiful, well-thought out vision for our Beachway Park. Why does this come as a surprise? This plan seems to put the earlier “Pave Paradise, Put Up a Parking Lot” story the Gazette ran to rest. The idea that properties were going to be expropriated simply to be turned into a giant parking lot is ridiculous and I don’t know why some chose to perpetuate this myth.

    I’m not all that old, and I eat pretty healthfully, but I’m fairly confident I’ll be dead by the time this park is finished. This is a long-term plan, and I applaud planners and most members of city and regional council for having a vision that looks to future generations. The politics don’t “smell” at all.

    With concerns to there not being enough parking, does anyone really believe Burlington will be as car-dependent in 50 years as it is now? I don’t know how families will be making their trek to Burlington parks in 2065, but I’m almost certain it won’t be in big SUVs. Planners have lots of time to figure this out.

    • Mike Ettlewood

      With all due respect, that was a very small component of the story and really not the point at all. The main issue was one of cost and that still stands. A wonderful plan has indeed been created. It sets up a whole series of expectations, most of which have yet to be costed. It will be interesting to see what can be implemented and in what time frame. You’re probably not far from the mark when you see a 50 year window.

  • Query

    Parking is and will remain the issue. Currently parking at the beachfront is ‘free’. On weekends, during the season, the parking lots are over-flowing. Parking extends to both sides of the road, sometimes double-parked. Some get ticketed, some dont. With the ‘upgrade’, the park will draw MORE people, local & tourists. Traffic in this area is going to intensify greatly, not just because of the park, but also because of the hospital, the new waste water facility and ‘drive by’ tourism itself. Shuttling (from where?) doesnt seem the Right solution. (Shuttling piles of beach & children’s gear wont appeal.) But forcing paid parking on lower-income families who just need to get outside, isnt the Best plan either. The beach access is one of the few remaining free ‘outdoor options’ in Burlington. It’s been that way for centuries.

    • Yearinthepast

      In response / agreement to the comments made by Query. I thought that the mandate of the region was to increase
      accessibility to our waterfront, and encourage its naturalization. However, we are doing the opposite in limiting parking and manufacturing features.
      …you want me to pay to park at the hospital, and walk to the beach with a cooler, umbrella, kids beach toys, a 3 & 5 year old in tow, to have to cross a busier 3 lane street…
      I never thought going to the beach would seem like such a hassle.

    • Chris Ariens

      The alternative is to pave over every square inch of land that isn’t used for the beach/park, and use that for the storage of people’s cars while they visit the Bayfront. Replacing homes and residents with parking doesn’t make any sense as a way of improving the park.

      Also, better get there early or you’ll be cruising up and down the strip for hours trying to find that “free” space. Last time we drove to the Beach with our children, I would have gladly paid 10 bucks to avoid that hassle. Charging for visiting the park is not warranted, however charging for parking cars is absolutely necessary to make the park work.

      There’s always alternative means of getting there, which are highly recommended, especially on the days when events are happening and the park is packed. For this year, I’m glad I can fit the kids and their gear into the bike trailer, but they’re close to getting too big for that now and it’s a long, frightening ride from the north-east corner of the city.

  • helene skinner

    No dispute that the paid planners seem too have done a good job. they were directed to produce a park plan without the houses…that they did…along with other features that may or may not be realized. Part of the plan will begin and will not finalize until all the homes are expropriated…or to use the Region’s wording…acquired on a “willing buyer/willing seller” agreement. Such an interesting way with words…as depicted in the Act. Great attention was paid to beacons and kilometer markers…but oooops they forgot about the regular comings and goings of the 18 wheel trucks that come to a halt at the Waste Treatment Plant with no Eastport Entrance. Ah yes…they along with other trucks will be encouraged not to use the ever so lovely park enhanced Lakeshore Road that services Burlington’s gateways!! Good luck!! Back to the homes…a Beachway resident had a very good point…if he decides to live there for the next 20 + years…will they build their park plan around him and the other homes that might hang on. Surely the rubber stamped government funded millions to rebuild Lakeshore Road will gladly sit collecting dust…until…ummmm the home owners are “willing” to sell. Funny, how we didn’t see variations of partial plans. The planning firm are not the only ones who have been mandated…your politicians have mandated your tax dollars to slowly dismantle a Burlington community one by one (of course “willing”) doing it slowly so that it doesn’t jut out like the tax dollars used to fund the $14.4 million pier. It’s unfortunate that the first slide at the meeting’s presentation didn’t show the cost of the pier…the approx same cost to remove the homes and build the park, the $20 million infrastructure rebuild deficit and affordable housing shortage. Perhaps the dog and pony would have had a more challenging time selling a park features. For now the residents remain…surely, that wasn’t their last evening meeting…surely, they will be solicited ONCE AGAIN to provide and repeat the necessary safety and convenience features for the already park which the City can’t afford to fully maintain. Final note, before leaving the meeting…I was stopped by a very distinguished elderly lady who congratulated me for being “noisy”. She was saddened that people had not been able to voice their opinion prior to all of this mess as she doesn’t want the homes to go as..(the broken record)…they provide a sense of safety. She was shocked to hear that thousands of peitions had been publicly tossed aside by a politician (one who doesn’t have a ward anywhere near the waterfront) and then when she heard that our Ward 1 Councillor supports the acquisition of the homes…there no words…just a strong hand from a wise woman as she wished me well!