Last November, Richard Pope (with Margaret Bain) of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists made presentations to four Advisory committees, to Council and to the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) suggesting that a Natural Park should be declared that encompassed the West Harbour, the West Beach, the West Headland and the Ecology Garden. His idea was referred to Town staff for a report and Dean Hustwick will present that to the Council’s next Committee of the Whole meeting on March 9. In the meantime the GRCA has reported and “do not support the proposal in its current form.” The short version of Dean’s report would be that the idea is mostly already covered by existing master plans so establishing a new Park is not appropriate – but it’s not quite that simple.
The four committees mostly gave support (see list below) but the GRCA seemed reluctant to venture into the Town’s jurisdiction although they would be required to give permission for a Park in the area being discussed. The GRCA comments that:
The proponent has indicated that future marina expansion into the area would be prevented as part of the proposed park. Notwithstanding, the proponent has indicated that dredging, the construction of a disabled access dock, or a boatlift could be located in this area. The details of what would be considered as viable proposals within this area supported are unclear. Furthermore, if the purpose of this park is to be a “natural waterfront park” the suggestion of allowing certain development while opposing other development appears to be more for the purpose of marina expansion prevention rather than the creation of a natural park.
They summarize with:
GRCA staff do not have enough information to recommend the endorsement of the proposed park. GRCA staff have concerns with jurisdiction, re-purposing of the marina, and a lack of clarity with respect to what uses could be supported within the park. While the GRCA is supportive of the area becoming park lands to protect the natural heritage value of the park, staff would recommend further discussions to bring clarity to the above concerns. On this basis, GRCA staff do not recommend the endorsement of the proposal in its current form.
Dean’s long report basically says that all areas are already designated as park by the Parks Master Plan and the Waterfront User Needs Assessment and Detailed Design (Waterfront Plan) and although it is the opinion of Community Services Division and Planning and Development Division staff that the proposal to identify portions of the central waterfront as a natural park is consistent with municipal planning documents, the West Beach, Boardwalk lands and the Ecology Garden are already designated within the Parks Use By-Law as a “Nature” park or recreational space and regulated accordingly.
It is the further opinion of Municipal staff that formally designating the Marina area … and the West Harbour …. as a “Natural Heritage Waterfront Park” would not be consistent with the established policies or regulatory framework or the specific park classifications outlined in the Parks Master Plan.
Dean is also concerned that there has not been enough public consultation on this specific proposal; he adds:
Staff recommend that before Council considers making significant alterations to both the Parks Master Plan and the Waterfront Plan based on this single proposal that the Town develop and implement another extensive public engagement process.
Staff believe the interests of the broader community are already adequately protected while ensuring maximum access to the many different user groups.
His recommended action by Council is to do nothing while “thanking Mr. Richard Pope and Ms. Margaret Bain for their dedication to the environment.”
It would seem his recommendation is based on the facts that:
- Council has already voted to not expand boat slips into the West Harbour and
- The area of the proposed Park is already designated as parkland.
Below are photos of the area under discussion (taken in 2019).
- Should a Natural Waterfront park be created? – 5 November 2019 (Richard Pope’s presentation to Council)
- Dean Hustwick’s comprehensive report – Originally on Civic Web, Agenda for 9 March 2020 – but now available here.
Presentations made to:
- Sustainability and Climate Change Advisory Committee (SCCAC) – supported the idea
- Heritage Advisory Committee – supported the idea
- Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee – Supported the concept
- Planning and Development Advisory Committee – partially supports and in line with Dean Hustwick’s report.
- Also Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority – their response here