Sustainability at the ground level - walking tour of Spencer Smith Park and the Beachway May 8th.

eventspink 100x100By Pepper Parr

April 26, 2016


The city’s Sustainable Development Advisory committee is getting out into the community and showing citizens what sustainability is like at the ground level.
The advisory committee often gets bogged down in writing reports and commenting on projects the city has sent them for review.

They produce an impressive annual report which unfortunately didn’t get much attention after it was submitted – copies are sent to the library and that’s about all the coverage the document gets.

The SDC, acronym for the Sustainable Development Committee are getting out into the community and sponsoring a Jane’s Walk through Spencer Smith park and the Beachway early in May – the 8th

Spencer Smith PArk from the west

The Spencer Smith Park we know today – pictures of what it used to look like are in the background articles.

The story of how the city recovered land along the edge of the lake and created one of the more impressive parks in the province – giving people wonderful access to the lake is one of Burlington’s crown jewels.

Spencer Smith

Spencer Smith

Few know who Spencer Smith was and what he means to the city. Mark Gillies, one of the Gazette’s from time to time contributors, did an excellent profile of Spencer Smith – there is a link to that profile below.

It will be interesting to hear what the Jane’s Walk guide has to say about the way the waterfront was developed to what it is today.

The walk will move into the Beachway – a part of the city with a rich, colourful and controversial history. It was never a “tony” part of town – it had a railway line running through it and at one point it had its own small newspaper.

It was once a robust community with hundreds of homes that were on leased land that the city eventually took ownership of – the leases were brought to an end and the homes got to meet a wrecking ball.


Beachway homes – they never want to leave – will they eventually be forced out?

There are still some 25+ homes in the Beachway – occupied by people who have been there for generations and want to remain in the community. Other residents are hanging in looking for a better offer from the Region which has a mandate to buy every property on what they call a willing buyer – willing seller basis.

While this war of attrition goes on between the region and the residents the Region’s planners are working up plans for a massive series of parks that will – if it ever comes to pass – will be the envy of communities across the province.

Beachway - Full park

The remake of the Beachway community is massive in both concept and scale – it will be decades in the making and what the planners are thinking today might be quite different than the end result. The pier is a pimple when compared to the park plans.

Most people in Burlington have no idea what the Region has planned for them – after the first announcement when the early thinking was made public, the Region went to ground – not a word from them in the recent past.

Will the Jane’s Walk shed any light on what is being done? Not likely.

Jane’s Walks were created to remember Jane Jacobs, an American who moved to Toronto in the xxx and became part of a group of activists who wanted to see better development in that city with more citizen input.

Hopefully the SDC will be true to her principles.

Janes walk Sustain adv commSave the news feedJacob’s, who would have turned 100 years old this year, upended the fields of city planning and architecture with her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. She was described as the most influential urban thinker of all time. Jacobs once said: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody”?

The walk will begin at 1 pm – gather at the Compass in the park.


Spencer Smith – Part 1 by Mark Gillies

Spencer Smith – Part 2 by Mark Gillies

The struggle over the Beachway homes

The plans to turn the Beachway into a park.

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2 comments to Sustainability at the ground level – walking tour of Spencer Smith Park and the Beachway May 8th.

  • Helene Skinner

    and it should also be noted that NOT all residents who are “hanging on” are doing so for a better offer from the Region or anyone. In fact, there is NO war (actively fighting off the enemy as readers are led to believe)…because since it is a based on Willing Seller/Willing Buyer and we and many have said “NO” to the Region…we continue to live in our homes just like anyone else in all communities – because we WANT to live there and are NOT willing sellers now or in the near future for any offer by the Region or MLS.

  • Thanks for posting the event Pepper. Your readers can find more info about the walk at

    Also it should be noted that Jane’s Walk events are taking place worldwide over the course of the weekend, with 3 currently scheduled in Burlington (including SDCs) see