Why does your city council want to sell waterfront property rather than create a stunning lake front parkette?

A two part series on the selling of waterfront land owned by the city

Part 1

Part 2

October 7, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Our city Council is adrift.  They have lost their way.  Six of the seven council members, the ones that talk about the jewel on the lake and the need to give the public access to the lake, last week put up their hands to approve, in principle, selling waterfront land to a very small group of residents.

A portion of the land at the foot of St. Paul Street that city council wants to sell the private property owners instead of putting in a park they say the community doesn’t need.

These Council members have lost sight of one of the guiding principles behind every policy the city has – save as much of the waterfront as possible, stop the quarrying on the Escarpment and keep highways out of north Burlington.

This Council is prepared to basically obliterate a functioning, albeit small,  community to create a massive park but seems prepared to actually sell of a small strip of land that is right next to the water.  It’s not a very long strip of land but it is land, and as a Texas land owner once said: “Sister, don’t give up the land. They are not making land anymore.”  But your city council doesn’t see it that way

Burlington spent millions on the City View Park, the biggest in the city, in a part of town few people get to, but prefers to sell land rather than have a small parkette on the waterfront.  That is dumb.Despite layer upon layer of policy from the province, the Region and city hall – this Council decided they should sell the property to the three residents who want to buy. 

In selling the land the city is selling the birthright of every citizen and that of all future citizens.  They are not selling the blood of the city – they are selling the bone marrow, for once that land is sold it will take more guts than anyone in this city has ever had get it back.  Burlington will be forever changed – all because six people you elected don’t feel the city needs another park.

Councillor Taylor said the city already has enough parkland.  Not in that part of the city, but that’s not the point.  There is a large goal, a larger objective and that is to get as much of the lakefront land in the hands of the city so that it can be made available to the public.

There is nothing wrong with people owning property on the lake front.  They bought and paid for it and it is theirs to use as they wish.  At some point that property will be back on the market and the city can, if it so chooses, look for ways to add to the land bank that will at some point in the future allow for more space for people to walk along the edge of the lake just the way they do now walk along Spencer Smith Park and the way they go out to the pier –  in droves.

The Pier – remember – it was the “Mistake on the Lake”; hundreds wanted it torn down.  Today there is hardly an hour of the day when people aren’t out there.

The trail through what is now Beachway Park – that was once a railway line.  In the early 1900’s few would have thought the rail lines would be torn out and a walking path put in.

The issue is the portion shown as parkette. The city had three options: keep the land and develop it as a parkette, lease the land to adjoining property owners until the city decides on its long term use or sell the land. The want to sell it.

We kept hearing people say that there would never be a real waterfront trail along all of the edge of Lake Ontario.  Perhaps not in our lifetimes – but if the city keeps the land that it has and adds to what it has over time this city might have a waterfront like that in Chicago.

The Bruce Trail started out as an idea and look what they’ve done with that vision.

The issue is less than half an acre of land – but like everything about property it is location, location, location.

To vote to sell this strip of land is to forget about what Burlington is all about. Should the vote done at Committee be approved at Council on the 15th a part of the waterfront we now own will have been lost for a very long time, probably forever – because six clowns chose to forget what the city is really about – the waterfront.

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6 comments to Why does your city council want to sell waterfront property rather than create a stunning lake front parkette?

  • Rob Narejko

    I agree with term limits.

    Most cities are struggling to get waterfront access, while our city appears to be trying to limit it? Crazy.

    Making Burlington a ‘livable, walkable community’ exists on paper only (and ‘Inspire Burlington’ talks at the Arts Centre). It should exist in actions by Council.

    Be sure to write to your Councillors: https://cms.burlington.ca/Page110.aspx

  • Vic Facia

    It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Burlington City Council would make such(brain dead)arbitrary choices. As a resident familiar with the area on the south side of Lakeshore from Brant to Maple, I have watched a pretty quiet park (Spencer Smith) transformed from a lovely treed respite for the local community to a mish mash of parking lot, play ground, wedding venue, and a (functionless) $15 million dollar pier that is more a curiosity than an attraction. To add insult to injury, they narrow Lakeshore Road to create more havoc! What was a generously treed, serene community park is now the root cause of serious traffic congestion and chaos that attracts far more noisy, smokey events than it’s share. It also attracts “slobs” from all over the Golden Horsehoe who get back on the bus after our community property has been totally littered and ravaged. These idiots (council members) are “dead from the neck up” and should be run out of town!

  • Gary Scobie

    It is indeed an unbelievable recommendation. Staff was recommending to build the windows on the lake at the street ends and preserve the connecting waterfront lands for a possible future parkette. Windows plus a parkette someday much more useful and usable to citizens than just two stranded windows. Selling public waterfront goes against what citizens thought was public policy.

  • Tony Pullin

    “Why does your city council want to sell waterfront property rather than create a stunning lake front parkette?”
    I don’t know!
    I can only presume that Marianne Meed Ward is the only one that plans on being a council member after the next election.
    Absolutely bizzare.

  • In Your Face

    Councillor Taylor is a perfect example of why there should be term limits for politicians. For guys like this, the terms should be limited to one only; thank you very much for your four years of service, now go away.

    It has to be recognized that there is a difference between waterfront parkland areas and typical parkland areas scattered throughout the interior of the limits of this City. If Taylor is correct in his assertion that there is already enough parkland (based on who knows what criteria except for his own arbitrary based thinking process), then lets preserve the waterfront parkland areas and release any ‘excess’ parkland areas for other uses; how about that idea?

    Enough of Taylor; somebody needs to unseat this stagnant thinker who continues to demonstrate a lack in progressive initiative in this community.

    Back to this issue: the answer rests in LINKING the existing Guelph Line parkette to these properties and this will create a beautiful and unique functioning parkland feature along the shore of the lake. It is very much possible to do; just need some coherent and collective thinking from both staff and council. And the real beauty is, this can be achieved at ZERO COST to the City.

    The problem with this group is they do not possess the background and experience in dealing with matters such as this. Goldring also has this chronic desire to either hide behind legal counsel justifying any sensitive decision, or, go ad nauseum through some sort of group hug consensus building process with the same members of the loud minority.

    Build the parkette link, as proposed in the first article, and at no cost to the city so we can have a nice place to host Taylor’s go-away party.

    • Couldn’t have put it more eloquent myself. Let us all forward this great article to everyone on our e-mail list so more burlingtonians will hear about this horrific error our councillors are about to make. STOP AND THINK PLEASE. Preserve this land for the next generation.