Richard Pope of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists (WBFN) did all the right things. He convinced four Advisory Committees and the GRCA that a Natural Heritage Waterfront Park would be a good idea but his presentation to Council only got a lukewarm reception. Despite a lot of information being provided in advance, the idea was deferred to February 2020 when Staff will provide a report. The idea was made public in a Post based on Richard’s presentation to the Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee (SCCAC) early October (see link below) and basically means that the West Harbour, the West Headland, the Ecology garden and the West beach would be declared a Natural Park with restrictions on what can be done there.
Richard’s presentation covered a range of issues:
- The Parks Master Plan and the Waterfront Master Plans recommend something similar.
- Making the area a Park is compatible with all uses the Public wants to do there – with the exception of adding additional boat slips which some want, and a boatlift “which would have to be outside of the Park boundaries”.
- There is no upfront cost and long range costs are low since “low maintenance is characteristic of such parks”.
- Its importance for birds is legendary and plant life is rich – this was reinforced by author Margaret Bain who presented some slides about fauna and flora in the area and also said that the area had still not recovered from the devastation caused 5 years ago when tons of dredging material were added to the West Headland. As Richard said: “the area is fragile”.
- The harbour has heritage value and is in fact called our “Heritage Harbour”.
- Jurisdiction is not a problem since the Town owns the entire shoreline. Later comments by Mayor Henderson pointed to possible legal problems with the boardwalk across the land currently owned by the School Board.
- There is no request for money now, just protection
- WBFN first asked for this in August 1994; Richard made a proposal in January 2016 and despite being declared a priority item, nothing happened. Richard said that “I hope this is the last time and that it’s not just ‘received for information purposes'”.
When it came time for delegation actions, Councillor Emily Chorley moved that the idea be endorsed and that the Town proceed to create a Waterfront Park and during this process no changes be made to the area without Council’s consent. Further that the Parks and Recreation Advisory committee, in collaboration and consultation with the GRCA, prepare recommendations re Park boundaries, permitted and prohibited activities within the Park, expected costs and timeline. These recommendations to be provided by the first of August 2020.
But Director Dean Hustwick and Councillor Adam Bureau said that this proposal duplicates what’s already directed by the Official Plan, Zoning, the Parks Master Plan and the Waterfront Master Plan. Brian Darling was concerned about the inclusion of the section from Third Street to the headland. Both Brian and Adam wanted a report from staff on the impact of declaring the area a Park.
In the end, Adam’s motion to refer the motion to February 1st was passed 5-2 (Emily Chorley and Nicole Beatty opposed) so we will hear from staff on or before that date.
Although Richard Pope provided all his presentation materials to the Town, they were not included in the Agenda. They are instead provided below.
- Natural Waterfront Park Proposed – 5 October 2019 (First mention of this idea)
Richard Pope’s Presentation Materials
- Transcript of his presentation
- Letter from Ontario Nature
- The Naturalists’ Point of View
- Bird List
- Plant List
- Photos – Not available – presented by Margaret Bain.
- Brownell, Vivian R., Waterfront Natural Areas – Part II: A Biological Inventory and Evaluation of 28 Natural Areas along the Lake Ontario Waterfront from Newcastle to Trenton. August 1993. Prepared for the Waterfront Regeneration Trust.