Blue Flag Congratulations!

Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label awarded by a non-governmental, non-profit organization. The Blue Flag symbolizes a marina has met high international standards in water quality, environmental management, environmental education and information, and safety and other services.

Burlington Waterfront is pleased to recognize the significant achievement of the La Salle Park Marina Association in receiving the Blue Flag.

Please view our letter of congratulations below:

Blue Flag Letter

Windows-to-the-Lake Go To Council

On Monday June 15, 2015 staff recommendations for the new Windows-to-the-Lake will be brought to the Development and Infrastructure Committee of Burlington Council.  The Staff Report recommends:

  1. Approval of the design concepts for the development of the St. Paul Street, Market Street and Green Street Windows-to-the-Lake
  2.  Funding of the development of the St. Paul Street, Market Street and Green Street Windows-to-the-Lake from funds received through the sale of the Water Street lands; and
  3. Funding of the development and improvements to other Windows-to-the-Lake from the balance of proceeds received through the sale of the Water Street lands.

Burlington Waterfront completely endorses these recommendations and commends the process of open public consultation and engagement that informed them.  A copy of the complete Staff Report can be viewed here.

Windows-to-the-Lake Staff Report

 

Notice of Meeting Change

The June meeting of Burlington Waterfront will take place at 7:00 pm, Monday June 8, 2015, room 305, Burlington City Hall.  The meeting was originally scheduled for Wednesday, June 3, 2015.

Burlington Beach Park Master Plan

On Thursday April 30, 2015 the Master Plan for the Burlington Beach Park was presented and discussed at the Halton Region Waterfront Parks Advisory Committee.  It is the same presentation that was made on April 7, 2015 at the public meeting at the Art Gallery of Burlington.  A copy is attached.

BB MP Presentation by ST to RWPAC

Windows-to-the-Lake Survey

Recently, there has been a considerable amount of opinion expressed concerning the proposed new Windows-to-the-Lake at St. Paul, Market and potentially Green Streets.  A local resident, Mr. Brian Rose, has designed a short survey to capture how citizens feel about the ‘windows’.  The results will be shared with the Community and Corporate Services Committee of City Council on June 16, 2015.  Please give Brian your input by responding to the survey at the following link;

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PWCFCVN

Update: the results of the Survey will be presented at the Development and Infrastructure Committee of Council on Monday, June 15, 2015 as a delegation responding to the staff recommendations for the proposed new Windows-to-the-Lake.

Windows-to-the-Lake, A Fresh Look

On Wednesday, March 25th, staff of the Burlington Parks and Recreation Department (Mr. Robert Peachey and Ms. Roberta Lau) held an open public meeting at the Burlington Seniors Centre showcasing possible designs for the proposed new Windows-to-the-Lake at St. Paul, Market and, potentially, Green Streets.  A copy of the presentation material can be viewed here (*Windows to the Lake ).

The meeting was well attended and well managed.  However, it quickly became evident that there were at least two camps present; residents who supported the concept of Windows-to-the-Lake as neighbourhood treasures and those who considered them an unnecessary waste of tax dollars or ‘perhaps nice to have but not on my patch, thank you’.  Most of the debate centred around just how elaborate,  given Council’s approval for ‘minimalist implementations’, the Windows-to-the-Lake should be.   The adverse effect of traffic and possible vandalism on neighbouring homes was also raised.  The following ‘open letter’ from Gary Scobie, Co-Chair of Burlington Waterfront, to Roberta Lau, Landscape Designer, provides a personal and, we believe, well balanced assessment.

Dear Roberta:

I attended the Windows-to-the-Lake Design presentation on Wednesday with a few of my colleagues from Burlington Waterfront.  I was very impressed with the design concepts and the intention of creating and completing all three new windows at St. Paul, Market and Green Streets.

I think the Appleby Place Window is a great example of what a Window-to-the-Lake can be, with a little necessary trimming along the sides and especially at the lake, where the view is obstructed by both low and higher branch and leaf growth.  Councillor Dennison mentioned earlier to us his vision of trimming out a window so that lower brush would be trimmed so anyone could see over it and trees would be trimmed up to a height to create a true “window” across each property.  I and my colleagues would support that vision.

At Appleby Place, the path winds between mature trees at the side, providing shade and some sense of privacy for both Windows users and abutting property owners.  It also leads the eye toward the lake and the view of the water and invites the public to follow the path.  The post and chain concept works well there and is adequate to convey the message of possible hazard, yet also keep the view open to the water.

In my comments at the meeting, I expressed a desire for Windows-to-the-Lake signage at each site and also at Lakeshore Road, to point out, mostly to walkers and cyclists, that an opportunity to view our shoreline exists just metres to the south.  Although many detractors worried about parking issues, I don’t see these Windows being “destinations” for people in cars that often.  Most people travelling to Burlington by car along Lakeshore Road will plan to gravitate to one of the larger parkettes like Sioux Lookout or Port Nelson Park where there are parking lots, and still more likely to our large parks like Burloak Park, Palleta Park, Spencer Smith, Beachway Park or LaSalle Park.

This fear of parking problems is very much a red herring, just as is an increase in vandalism etc.  Most of that takes place in less developed areas where there is more chance of privacy and less chance of being caught.  As these Windows become developed and better cared for, they will attract more local residents, be used more often and thus be less inviting to young folk these residents claim to fear.

I was also  pleased to hear Rob Peachey mention use of money left over after developing these new Windows to improve the existing Windows to the east.  Putting all of the money from the sale of the Water Street lands back into public waterfront access through Windows creation and improvements is something that Burlington Waterfront very much supports.

 I invite my colleagues to respond to you as well with their own thoughts on this initiative and applaud your designs that include use of trees along the sides of the Windows. 

Yours sincerely,

 

Gary Scobie

Co-Chair, Burlington Waterfront      

 

Burlington Waterfront supports the completion of all possible Windows-to-the-Lake east of Spencer Smith Park.  This includes Green Street although this site was not specifically encompassed in Council’s approval.  The manner in which the ‘windows’ will be completed is, of course, up to Council to decide.  Like Council, Burlington Waterfront favours a minimalist approach, allowing the natural beauty of the lakefront to be the primary feature.  In this regard, we have cited Appleby Place as an excellent example of a simple, well maintained and well signed Window-to-the-Lake.

In addition we support use of the proceeds from the Water Street land sale to fund the new windows, refurbish  those that need restoration and make several improvements to Port Nelson Park.  The monies from the disposal of the Water Street property is unallocated capital and does not affect current budgeted park maintenance and development plans.  Staff of the Parks and Recreation Department also recommend this course of action and we expect it to be included in the report that will be brought to Council for vote on June 22, 2015.

 We believe that there is general support on Council for using the Water Street funds to provide the new and refurbished windows east of Spencer Smith.   At this point, any remaining issues should be largely a question of design.  We trust that Council will vote to use the funds received from disposing of part of the public’s waterfront heritage, the Water Street property, to restore another portion of that heritage, the unfinished Windows-to-the-Lake.  For Council to fail now is to submit to one of the worst examples of prolonged and entitled NIMBYism that we have experienced and to weaken its crucial role of enhancing public access to Burlington’s waterfront assets.

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name?  Well, for some people quite a bit and perhaps rightly so.  The Burlington Waterfront Committee (BWC) was an official advisory committee of the City of Burlington but it was sunset in 2012 after only two and a half years of operation.  By common definition, a ‘committee’ is a body of persons appointed for a special purpose and receiving its authority from a higher level of organization, such as the City.   So, what is the BWC now that it no longer has a formal connection to City Hall?  Well, it’s still a volunteer group of like-minded, engaged citizens concerned with preserving and expanding the public’s access to Burlington’s waterfront. But it’s no longer ‘official’, no longer a ‘committee’ and, significantly, no longer constrained in its views or practices by any affiliation.   Free to advocate as it deems appropriate, it stands on its own merits as simply “Burlington Waterfront” – no ‘committee’, no problem.

 

Did You Hear The Screen Door Slam?

Many readers will recognize that the question above comes from the iconic rock song, Big Yellow Taxi, and its haunting lament “you never know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot”.  Well, the Beachway Community is hardly “paradise”.  In fact, one unsuccessful candidate in the recent municipal election was quite clearly appalled at the thought that people would live and raise families there.  Putting aside this rather smug arrogance, the Beachway residents are a long-standing and resilient culture within Burlington and the Halton Regional Government has, at least in part, elected to take away their homes and “put up a parking lot”.  To make this happen over time, the community, which has existed for over 100 years, will eventually be demolished.

 The Beachway residents fought hard in 2013 to be allowed to stay and co-exist with the expanded Beachway park.  They observed then that they have never prevented the public from accessing the beach nor posed a threat to the shoreline.  The Burlington Waterfront Committee (BWC) took up their cause and, in a campaign that lasted from Spring through Fall of 2013,  argued that the residents should be left alone.  A survey conducted by the BWC in the Summer of 2013 showed that 82% of Burlington respondents agreed.  However, only three Councillors in Burlington ( Meed Ward, Dennison and Taylor) were of like mind; the other four members of Council voted for acquisition of the properties.  As a result, Burlington took a divided voice to the Region in October 2013 and a local community was earmarked for destruction when Oakville representatives and the Regional Chair voted as a block.  Such are the ironies of municipal politics.  However, our purpose here is not to comment on this unnecessary loss of community.  That perspective is very effectively covered by Councillor Meed Ward in her December 2014 Newsletter (https://madmimi.com/s/c94ca5#lakeshore).  Rather, we would like to seriously question the associated economics and business case with the benefit of new information.

 Readers may or may not be familiar with all aspects of the planned purchase of all 30 houses in the Beachway community by the Region.  The purpose of the acquisition is ostensibly to add another 3% of land to the Regional Beachway Park.  Our concern is at what cost and to what end use?  The houses will be demolished, as acquired, and the properties will be restored as natural land (foundations, pavement, septic tanks/beds and any other contaminants removed).  The Region has estimated the cost of the property acquisition  alone to be $10 million or an average of over $330,000 per home.  Significantly, the costs of restoration, which will be considerable,  have not been estimated.

Now we have learned that the first domino in the property purchase game has fallen.  It is 1011 Lakeshore Road, a property on the west (non-shore) side just south of the Sewage Treatment plant.  The cost to regional taxpayers is well over $600,000.  It is early in the game and one home sale does not represent a pattern.  It does, however, provide a reason for concern and caution.  If each house (on both the shore and non-shore side) was valued with this cost as an average, the total cost just to purchase all of the houses could be over $18 million or nearly twice the estimate given to taxpayers.  If the costs of restoration are then factored in to the total, the cost becomes far, far greater.  Whether or not this is good value for taxpayers is subject to debate and interpretation.  Our point is that the debate has never occurred and, given a decision made with a completely different set of cost metrics, may never occur.  Are there other projects in the Region that have better value, that exhibit a better cost/benefit ratio for our tax dollars?  Quite possibly and, of course, “value” is largely determined by the use to which these resources are put.  This leads to the second major issue, our “parking lot”.

 What is the plan once the Beachway homes are all demolished over time?  Well, the Region’s “Park Plan” is not complete, so we only have the latest “Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park Master Plan” to go by ( cf. Burlington Parks & Recreation Department, document PR-23-13, dated August 28, 2013;cms.burlington.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=28125 ).  Under the list of elements that the  park zone is envisioned to include (cf. page 11), there is a proposal to “relocate parking from the dynamic beach to parking in less sensitive areas”.  Significantly, the only “less sensitive areas” in the park are on the west side of Lakeshore Road where the one rectangle of fifteen (15) houses exists today.  Under Option 2 (cf. page 15) “with the entire beach area as parkland” (the plan now approved),  it states that this “allows for expansion of existing parking capacity west of Lakeshore Rd. & Lakeshore Court.”.  This makes it reasonably clear that the fifteen (15) houses on the west side of Lakeshore Road are to be purchased and demolished for a parking lot.  Did someone just hear the screen door slam?

 Based on our estimates to buy half the houses, tear them down, clean up the mess and pave it over, that parking lot alone could cost over $10 million of taxpayer money.  Arguably, it would be the most expensive parking lot in Burlington.  So that is the likely fate of these “park” lands we are going to purchase on the west side of Lakeshore Road.  There is no mention of what is intended to replace the houses strung along the east side of Lakeshore Road after they have been demolished, but the proposal to move parking away from the dynamic beach area would suggest these lands would not be parking areas but possibly naturalized areas of grass.  Still, at a possible total cost of twice the initial estimate, is the original decision still valid and is all this destruction both warranted and cost-effective for the citizens of the region?  At the very least, the first business case needs to be re-examined with a new and more critical set of eyes.  As such, we would ask concerned citizens to communicate with the City and the Region to encourage a proper cost benefit analysis be undertaken, to advocate that it include all relevant costs and to ensure that both City and Region commit to a process of extensive public engagement and awareness once the true costs are known.  The contact information for both Regional and City Councillors is available below:

 

Halton Regional Council:

 

http://www.halton.ca/cms/one.aspx?portalId=8310&pageId=11279

 

Burlington City Council

 

Mayor Rick Goldring – mayor@burlington.ca; (905) 335-7607

Councillor Rick Craven – rick.craven@burlington.ca; (905) 335-7600. ext. 7587

Councillor Marianne Meed Ward – marianne.meedward@burlington.ca; (905) 335-7600, ext. 7588

Councillor John Taylor – john.taylor@burlington.ca; (905) 335-7600, ext. 7459

Councillor Jack Dennison – jack.dennison@burlington.ca; (905) 632-4800, ext. 211

Councillor Paul Sharman – paul.sharman@burlington.ca; (905) 335-7600, ext. 7591

Councillor Blair Lancaster – blair.lancaster@burlington.ca; (905) 335-7600, ext. 7592

 

 

 

 

 

 

Windows-to-the-Lake

 

 

In several of the candidate responses to the recent Waterfront Questionnaire, reference is made to Burlington’s “Windows-to-the-Lake”.  As the name suggests, Windows-to-the-lake are small parcels of city-owned property providing access to the waterfront and an unrestricted view of lake Ontario.  There are twelve (12) in all stretching from east to west across the four waterfront wards:

  • Appleby Place
  • Walker’s Line
  • Fruitland Avenue
  • Lakeland Crescent
  • St. Paul Street
  • Market Street
  • Green Street
  • Allview Avenue
  • Stillwater Crescent
  • King Road
  • Bellhaven Crescent
  • Powder Magazine Road

 The ‘Windows’ are meant to offer Burlington citizens and visitors an opportunity to enjoy the lakefront at their leisure.  In April 2011 the Burlington Waterfront Committee (then the WAPAC) initiated an inventory and detailed examination of the ‘Windows’ to serve as a baseline for future improvement efforts.  They recommended to the City that a number of standard features be implemented such as common signage, adequate lighting, benches, refuse cans, safety railings and parking facilities (where possible).  Periodically, the BWC reviews the progress made on the ‘Windows’ and offers recommendations for improvement.  The most recent review was conducted last month (September, 2014) and revealed that few advances have been made since the Committee’s initial review.  The current findings note that:

  • most sites need to be clearly marked/signed
  • encroached areas need to be resolved
  • many sites need lights
  • all sites should be better groomed and maintained
  • several sites need benches, garbage cans and safety railings and
  • all areas should be marked on Lakeshore or North Shore blvd. 

As part of its work plan for 2014/15, the BWC will place a priority on working with the City to improve the existing ‘Windows’ and make them the public asset that they are intended to be.

 

Waterfront Questionnaire for Burlington Candidates

The Burlington Waterfront Committee believes that use and enjoyment of the waterfront is part of the heritage of all Burlington residents and a compelling feature of living in Burlington.  As such, it looks to the City’s elected representatives to promote a cohesive vision for the future development of waterfront land, to exercise responsible stewardship of the waterfront and to maintain effective public access.

The Committee has developed a short questionnaire to allow each candidate running for public office in the upcoming Municipal Election an opportunity to express their opinions on waterfront related issues and concerns.  View candidate responses – Questionnaire Summary – Oct 20,2014