Public to get a first look at what the city thinks a Beachway Park could look like - might be a noisy meeting.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 23, 2015


It is going to be a tough meeting.

The city will give the public a peek at what they have in mind for the Beachway Park at a meeting on April 7th at the Art Gallery of Burlington – start time is 6:30 pm

This is the location of the 30 homes the Regional government would like to at some point buy and demolish and turn into a park.  They have a fight on their hands even though the Region won the first round.

This is the location of the 30 homes the Regional government would like to at some point buy and demolish and turn into a park.

The challenge the city faces in designing a park for the Beachway part of the city is – how long are the houses going to be in place?

How does a landscape designer put together a plan without knowing if a piece of land is going to be available or not?

The landscape planner on the Beachway file did most of the work for the City View Park on Dundas at Kerns Road. It is a very well designed park – Burlingtonians don’t get to use it all that much because of its location and will get to see almost none of it during the Pan Am Games this summer – it is being used for soccer practice by teams and there is no public admittance.

The challenge for the planner is – how does she put together a design that covers the park when 26 homes are still on the property?

Beachway June-12 Older guys with maps

These Beachway home owners got to see drawings with houses on the maps – some of the design maps apparently don’t have houses shown. They assume a clean slate.

The thinking that is reported to dominate the people doing the design is that the homes are not going to be there for all that long. There is a view that the Region should just get on with it and buy all the homes now and complete the destruction of that community.

The fight to keep the homes as part of a vibrant community was lost when Burlington wasn’t able to convince their municipal colleagues on Regional council that there was real merit to maintaining the homes the way the city of Toronto did with the Islands.

It was a long hard battle to keep a community on the Toronto Islands but the residents eventually won and today it is a quaint, safe livable community.

Burlington appears to have missed out on the opportunity to preserve something that is a part of both its history and its heritage.

Beachway residents looking at early maps

At previous public meetings the discussion was about what the community could look like – the discussion this time around does not include a community – just a park.

At least one of the maps that will be shown will not have any of the houses on it – that will be used to show what the park could look like if all the houses were gone.

There are, we understand, plans to make the canal a bigger feature in the design.

The Regional government has consistently taken the position that there is a willing buyer – willing seller situation – any buyers that might have been out there are going to give up on the idea of living in that community once they see the plans.

That leaves those people who own homes sitting there like apples in a barrel waiting for someone to spear them and eat them.

The Region had “guestimated” that they would have to spend something between $300,000 and $400,000 to acquire each property.

Beachway 1011 sold for $600k

Sold for $600,000 + with the seller staying in the house under a two year lease.

The most recent sale went through at more than $600,000. With the region prepared to pay what some say are more realistic prices and the plan for the park available to the public – it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that current owners will take what money there is on the table and call it quits.

There will be a couple of hold outs – that’s when expropriation will be used.

Expropriation has already been thoroughly discussed at the Staff level – it’s a tool that in this instance has political ramifications.

That isn’t going to make any difference to Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven. He no longer talks to the Gazette so we can’t tell you what he has to say.

Laura Gillespie points out the part of the Beachway that affects her the most - the spot where her house is located.

Laura Gillespie points out the part of the Beachway that affects her the most – the spot where her house is located.

He is on record as not being a fan of keeping the homes in the park. Expect him to speak about the plan in glowing terms and as being the best thing for the city and the Region. That it is seen as a disaster for the people who live there and are his constituents does not seem to matter to the Councillor.

The Beachway has always had a bit of a down market cast to it. Many of the homes that were in place when the rail line went through were summer cottages that had been upgraded – usually not to the building code.

It had a sense of community to it but it also had a reputation. Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster once told her colleagues that in her day “nice girls did not go to the Beachway’. We are not sure if that was before or after Ms Lancaster was made Miss Canada.

1064 Lakeshore Rd. This cottage was demolished in 1994.

Demolished in 1994

Kilbride house

Demolished in 1990. The Region bought up the leases and tore down every last one of the houses that were on the lake side of the railway tracks.

There are some ideas floating about that could make the Beachway more of a destination but Burlington requires more in the way of leadership vision for anything different or unique. Ideas need champions, people prepared to educate and lead a public.

Burlington doesn’t have enough of that around the council table. These things take time.

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8 comments to Public to get a first look at what the city thinks a Beachway Park could look like – might be a noisy meeting.

  • WarningU2

    Well said Mrs Skinner

  • Helen Skinner

    Mr. Bell,
    Don’t be so quick to humbly apologize. I own my HOME on the Beachway and let me assure you that none of the Beachway homeowners are fans of Mr. Craven (understatement). Councilor Craven (I will remain polite) has done nothing to support his Beachway consituants. He has talked over us, at us but never with us. He supports the 30 year old acquisition policy and made sure that he surrendered the votes of the Regional councillors. You should have been there on Octber 23,2013…what a circus act!!! No expropriation you say…really!! Stop and think about it for one second. How would you feel if your home / community was publicly earmarked to be swallowed up one by one by the Region to become part of Want not a Need – ie parkland for over what the Pier cost. Your taxes Mr. Bell will pay for that. We now only have one buyer and that is the Region (yes, government). We are not able (yes allowed but repeat not able to sell openly because no one (I bet you wouldn’t) will buy there. In everyone’s mind – they know that it is a form of expropriation. It has destroyed our lives!!! So before you apologize to Mr. Craven for promoting that your tax dollars go towards removing homes that as Councillor Marianne Meed Ward (our strong supporter!!!) says don’t impede public access and provice character (100 year old community) and a sense of safety (we had over 3000 signed petitions by regular trail users that we publicly tossed aside by Ms. Lancaster)…perhaps you should come down and talk with the Beachway residents.I used to call myself a Proud Beachway resident…but I am no longer a Proud Burlington resident…so I have left that out. Still paying my taxes….Mrs. Skinner

  • Ross Bell

    An open apology to Councilor Rick Craven: Today March 28th. I met Rick Craven at a Burlington Transit forum held at Central Library and he took me to task over the post I made last week about the Beach Strip Homeowners being forced to leave their homes to build a park. Councilor Craven told me that any information I had commented on in that post was erroneous and without fact. He informed me that the city has no plans to force people from their homes or expropriate any property in order to build said park. Since I have used this forum to complain about the city and Rick Craven in particular, it behooves me to use this very same forum to offer my humble apology to Mr. Craven and the rest of city council. Sincerely, Ross Bell.

  • Helen Skinner


    We have asked he Mayor exactly the very question as he sat in front of the Beachway residents in my living room. He appeared to be on our side but literally turned his back on us when it was time to vote. He could not even look at any of us in the eye. He clearly took Craven’s direction – same as other Regional Councillors have made it clear that they would do…rather than study the matter and make an informed decision on their own. I am very aware of the vote bartering that takes place in Burlington.

  • Peter Rusin

    You should ask the mayor what he thinks is the best solution and how the plan moving forward should look like and whether or not the city is committed to the development of the park in whole or in part, or to the people living in the affected homes, or, just trying to avoid the challenge and staying below the radar of the political heat.

    And don’t listen to Meed Ward who muddies the water by spewing out misleading information on waterfront issues.

    Although he may be an easy target, Craven may not be the one to hang on this one.

  • WarningU2

    Totally agree with Ross Bell. There is nothing wrong with keeping a few homes on the beach strip. There are more important things for council to spend money on i.e. fixing the infrastructure, roads and properly maintaining culverts to stop another flood.

  • Ross Bell

    Why does Rick Craven and the rest of the council think it is necessary to kick people out of their homes to build a park? Where will the former home owners go? The city should be taking care of much more urgent business like transit issues, traffic gridlock and other problems. We are spending taxpayers money that we don’t have and kicking people out of their homes to make a park should not be high on the city’s list of priorities. Rick Craven the man who would be King.

  • Helen Skinner

    Perhaps one day…now or in decades to come…the bull dozers will physically dismantle the houses…but we will always know who to “thank” for dismantling an historic community…right Craven!