URBAN MATTERS:  Sault’s Waterfront Design Plan Excessive

Another Consultant was tapped to produce the new Waterfront Design Plan for our City.  If we strip away the superfluous, ridiculous, and excessive “features” of this Waterfront Design Plan, to the core, there is an excellent idea here. 

“Create a series of parks, urban green spaces, or urban forests along the St. Mary’s River and tie them together with the existing Hub Trail”.

Building a series of urban green spaces or urban forests along the St. Mary’s River stretching from the Canal District to Bellevue Park is an excellent idea; it allows us to build upon the recreational successes that are already there. 

This is not a new idea; most river cities utilize their river as the foundational component for creating a ribbon of parks connected by some trail system.  A classic example of this concept, done properly, is the Ottawa River Trailway (part of Trans-Canada Trail); on the Ottawa River, in our Nation’s Capital.

Let’s say you visit Ottawa and start your fantastic urban bike ride(or walk) along the Ottawa River at Brittania Beach where you can enjoy the small sandy beach, watch beach volleyball games, and savour food truck eats.  Heading towards the Parliament Buildings down the Ottawa River Trailway you will pass another small park at Westborough Beach, then Remix Rapids Park, and then stop at the Rock Sculptures, then at the War Museum, an absolute must-stop at the Mill Street Brew Pub, then onto the Parliament Buildings, and of course finishing at the ByWard Market. 

This is how you build a fantastic ribbon park system along a river; it demonstrates how they used the Ottawa River as the foundation for a series of parks tied together by the Ottawa Trailway (Hub Trial). 

These small little parks, urban green spaces, or urban forests along the Ottawa Trailway serve as each neighbourhood citizen’s backyard along the Ottawa River Trailway.   There is no need for swimming pools in the Ottawa River; excessive features are not wanted because what is required is “urban green space”.

The Sault should be able to learn from other cities and apply that knowledge here; because we have a lot to work with. 

THE SAULT’S WATERFRONT URBAN FOREST TRAIL SYSTEM.

Whitefish Island is a fantastic start to our trail system; citizens can walk (bike) along the majesty of the St. Mary’s Rapids.  This is truly a spiritual experience that we are fortunate to have. 

Then we have our “Sault Ste. Marie National Historic Site” showcasing the locking system as another fantastic park and tourism site. 

The Canal District is awesome and the Mill Market should have been left where it was especially now knowing it could have been built and managed by the Private Sector.

Next, is the Gateway Site and it needs to be transformed into an urban forest.  This site is heavily contaminated and its best and only realistic use is an urban forest if we want to truly be a “bird-friendly city”, what better than to leave this site for birds and nature as an urban forest?

Our Station Mall boardwalk is awesome and fantastically successful; leave it alone.  Do not close St. Mary’s River Drive;  Sault Ste. Marie has a vibrant car/cruise culture and closing St. Mary’s River Drive is unfair to every other citizen who loves to drive or ride their motorcycle down this beautiful drive.

It is my experience as an urban cyclist that Food Trucks are far more common on Hub Trails in other cities.  Hub Trails are seasonal; food trucks and vendors would be the only viable food and beverage options here.  It would be nice if the Station Mall owners would allow food trucks or other vendors on the Boardwalk. 

The Bondar Pavillion is a fantastic feature that is underutilized.

The Waterfront Consultant is advocating installing a mechanical cooling system for the skate path at Clerque Park and I cannot agree more.  This is building upon the success of the Skate Path and the money should have been spent here at the Skate Path rather than the Downtown Plaza. 

The splash pad was better at Clerque Park as it would have been next to the Library and the Art Gallery. The Waterfront Consultant makes sense; this was a far better location for the mechanical cooling system and the splash pad than the Downtown Plaza.

The Downtown Plaza’s cost ballooned to over $12M; imagine the cost of swimming pools in the St. Mary’s River, concrete overlooks, and the myriad of unnecessary features in this Waterfront Design Plan.  The Downtown Plaza taught us the fact that we could never afford it; building and maintaining this Downtown Plaza comes at the cost of not maintaining other recreational facilities around our City.

The “Old Tank Farm” site on Bay Street is a very heavily contaminated site that again would best be left alone and turned into a bird-friendly urban forest. 

Once the Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie finally realizes that the “Old Hospital Site” must be expropriated and Toronto Developer #2 removed; this contaminated Brownfield site can be turned into a city park, urban green space, or urban forest.   Understanding that the Sault is a post-industrial city; the only practical, responsible way to deal with these Brownfield sites is to turn them into urban green spaces or urban forests.

Belleview Park is beautiful and perhaps some beach volleyball courts could be set up here; updating and expanding the Greenhouse would be a feature that we could build upon.

Our Waterfront Trail system has come a long way in the past thirty years.  Saultites have a clear choice on the direction they should take moving forward:  do we want superfluous, unnecessary, and excessive “features” or “urban green spaces”?

Mark Menean URBAN MATTERS.

Thank you Ottawa River Trailway.

2 thoughts on “URBAN MATTERS:  Sault’s Waterfront Design Plan Excessive

  1. I have been saying this for years now!
    You can argue with city counsel till you are blue in the face, they will not listen to reason!
    They are just going to waste money on stupid ideas that us Saultites don’t and never wanted ( Downtown Plaza)! And we don’t need river front swimming pools either!
    I would love to see more green spaces along the river front.

    Also, Good luck with the food vendors at the mall.
    We aren’t even allowed to legally park there anymore without being a customer of the mall according to the new owners.

    But first off we have to get rid of all the drug addicts that don’t care about society or hire a park task force that is around all the time ti clean up the needles and push the riff raff out!

  2. The King moron in the Ivory tower doesn’t want to hear any of this, it spoils his pipe dreams of long lost fantasies that were buried decades ago. He simply can’t give it up and continues to squander every available cent, going against the taxpayers wishes for far too long now.
    He must step down before the city is 100% broken and flat broke.

    The “Old Tank Farm” site on Bay Street has been home to transients for months, them and their drugged up pals camp out there in homemade shelters, lighting fires, littering, etc. while the neighborhood residents are having their vehicles vandalized and windows smashed with anything of value being stolen so these people can sell whatever it is that they steal for their next fix.

    The city does nothing about this or several other areas with the same type ongoing issues, as they are too concerned about squandering more money that the city doesn’t have and continue to beat on the downtown dead-horse fantasy.

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