At left, Waterfront Cafe, View of Conservation Park and View of Lions Park.
An open house on the Water Street Boat Launch was held on December 16, 2015 at SPC and the comments received were presented to council on January 12, 2016. At the open house, two concepts were presented which showed Lions Park being used for a second boat launch and parking area. This would have taken a big bite out of Lions park.
The open house was not well advertised. A single ad was in the Guide on Dec 10. Nevertheless 19 people showed up and 14 submitted comments, many of them negative.
At council on January 12, 2016, Bill Russell spoke on behalf of the Lions Club noting the lack of consultation with the Lions and questioning the use of parkland for parking.
Peter Dafoe explained that the two concepts were not preliminary designs or staff recommendations but were only put out for discussion.
The mayor and deputy-mayor felt that council needed to take a look at the overall development of the waterfront and develop a master plan of which the boat launch is only one part.
Council decided to hold a second open house at Town Hall which has was held in February and by then staff had decided against the second boat launch proposal.
It seems that the problem with the existing boat launch is not the adequacy of the ramp but parking which becomes congested at times, with some boaters tying up parking space for lengthy periods. Restaurant patrons also use the boat launch area for parking. Shifting some of the parking to the upper lot might alleviate the existing problem, at least in the short term.
The long-term solution may involve developing more and better public parking close to but not on the water.
Ample, public parking is essential to continued development of our downtown and waterfront. The Town acquired and built the Mill St and Water St lots over 40 years ago at very little cost and these have proved to be an excellent investments. But no public parking has been added since. There are several other sites that should be looked at, particularly 117-125 East St., which could be converted to 60 parking spaces.
If done properly, redeveloping our waterfront is a large and challenging project which will require significant investment, public and private, over a number of years. The concepts displayed looked like band-aide solutions which might have to be re-done in a few years.
Part of any master plan should involve getting projects “shovel ready” so that we can finally start getting funding from the Province and Ottawa like other municipalities do. Ottawa has promised new spending on infrastructure over the next 4 years and other municipalities are lining up. We need to get in line too.
See also Our Heritage for information on 18 Water St E
See also Springside Park
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