Critics say plan won't hold water
November 30, 2009
The Hamilton Spectator
It has taken four years and a budget of $730,000 to come up with plans for a major makeover of Hamilton's west harbour shoreline, but some boaters and North End residents are still making waves.
Lawyer Herman Turkstra, whose home overlooks Pier 4 Park, says the whole exercise is a waste of money "because the west harbour works very well today."
He's especially upset by the idea of removing MacDonald Marine Services from Macassa Bay, between Pier 4 and Bayfront parks, when its lease ends in eight or nine years.
"Macassa Bay has been a place for boats for 200 years. It's probably the best place to park a boat, shielded from strong east winds and partly from west winds."
Scott MacDonald, son of former Mayor Jack MacDonald, doesn't know why his business is singled out for removal when all the private boating clubs remain in place.
"I'm open to the public, with no dues and no monthly accounts. City consultants said in the 1980s that Macassa Bay should be a commercial marina and I've done what the city wanted."
Others ask why the police marine unit dock is to move to Macassa Bay from the foot of James Street North.
Laurel Thompson and Martin Lipp, both past commodores of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club (RHYC), question whether the financially strapped city can afford features like a lift bridge required to extend the Waterfront Trail across a basin beside the clubhouse. Lipp calls the bridge idea impractical and outrageously expensive.
Thompson also wonders about the wisdom of ideas such as placing public art beside hoists used to lift club boats out of the water and onto trailers.
Work on the master plan began in 2005 as a followup to the Setting Sail land use plan for west harbour neighbourhoods, aspects of which are being appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. Members of a waterfront advisory group mutinied last year when consultants proposed putting the RHYC, Leander Boat Club, Macassa Bay Yacht Club and other boating organizations in one, central building.
The Hamilton Waterfront Trust, meanwhile, was working on its own plan, which city council endorsed last January, telling staff to come up with a new scheme based on the trust's proposals.
Jill Stephen, acting director of strategic planning and rapid transit, is now in charge of the project, intended as a vision to be implemented over 20 to 30 years at an undetermined price.
If city council accepts the revised plan, being presented early in the new year, it will be put forward as an Official Plan amendment, with a formal meeting at which the public will have a chance to comment. Elements of the plan, such as construction of floating breakwaters, would be subject to further environmental assessment, with opportunities for more consultation.
Stephen defends putting more of the trail right on the shore, in front of the Macassa Bay and Royal Hamilton yacht clubs, saying, "We still want to get people to the water's edge."
RHYC would have assigned slips in a new 750-to-900-slip marina that the Hamilton Port Authority has expressed interest in operating. Most winter boat storage would be moved.
"We've worked to listen to everybody who's provided comments," says Stephen. "Our goal is to find the best plan for Hamilton. It may not be ideal for every boater, angler or cyclist. It has to take into account all perspectives."
Turkstra argues more attention should be paid to the Lake Ontario shoreline, "our true waterfront."
SHAPE OF TOMORROW: THE WEST HARBOUR PROJECT
Proposed vision includes:
* Multi-storey parking garage under Bayview Park at Bay and MacNab streets.
* Concession stand with bistro, plus canoe, kayak and bike rental in Bayfront Park.
* Royal Hamilton and Macassa Bay yacht clubs, Leander Boat and Hamilton Bay Sailing clubs remain in place.
* Wooden boardwalk along the shore past Macassa Bay and Royal Hamilton yacht clubs.
* Police dock in Macassa Bay between Bayfront and Pier 4 parks.
* Wooden pedestrian bridges across basin beside Royal Hamilton Yacht Club and across a slip at the foot of James Street.
* Urban fishing enhancements along the Bayfront Park shore facing the rail yard.
* Amphitheatre, stage and public art at the foot of James.
For more information, go to hamilton.ca, click on Projects And Initiatives and then scroll down to West Harbour Waterfront Recreational Master Plan.