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Representatives from LaSalle Park Marina attend waterfront meeting

Trumpeter Swans spend their winters at LaSalle Park.
Trumpeter Swans spend their winters at LaSalle Park.

A number of residents have been asking whether city council has taken a position on the proposed LaSalle Park Wave Break & Marina Expansion. A number of you have also raised concerns about the potential impact of the proposed expansion on the park environment and in particular the Trumpeter Swan population.

Meantime, the marina has asked the city to help fund the next level of detailed design.

Council is waiting to hear back from the Ministry of the Environment before taking any further action.

Two separate parties requested that the Ministry review the Environmental Assessment completed by a consultant back in August. That review is underway and there is no timeline for the Ministry to report back.

Meantime, the Burlington Waterfront Committee has been learning more about the issue, and has had presentations from the Trumpeter Swan Coalition and the LaSalle Park Marina Association. The committee is a volunteer group of residents from across the city, providing resident input to city and regional council on waterfront access and protection issues. The committee has not yet taken a position on the marina, but is gathering additional information.

To see the minutes of these meetings, and the presentations from the two groups, visit the committee’s webpage at

For more background on the marina, and to read the original Environmental Assessment, visit the city’s webpage devoted to the marina here

Your Take: What are your thoughts on the marina expansion? Leave a comment below.

Trumpeter swans and the Lasalle Park Marina
Article Name
Trumpeter swans and the Lasalle Park Marina
Residents are asking if council has position on the LaSalle Park Wave Break & Marina Expansion. Some raise concerns about the impact on the Trumpeter Swans

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. Hello
    I feel anything that can be done, should be done to preserve these lovely birds habitate. If they have chosen La Salle park to come back from the brink of extinction . Then we as stuwards of the land are obliged to keep it as natural as possible. The preposed marina is NOT what is needed here! Many people presently enjoy viewing the swans and there are many more who can not physically make it to the park but are still very happy in the knowledge that they are there and want to continue providing them with a place to survive.
    My and my families comments are PLEASE do as much as possible to keep this unique enviroment as natural and possible, so we and future generations can enjoy the swans as well as La Salle park and not have its beauty marred by a marina.
    Thank you for providing tghis format for people to express their opinions
    Regards John C Robertson

  2. I think that LaSalle Park is one of the best places in all of Canada for people to photograph and observe and intermingle with Trumpter Swans. I have run into people from as far as Europe to view these birds and get their photo taken with them. I have run into people on a regular basis who travel from Niagara Falls and surronding areas to visit these birds. It is one of the only areas where the disable and children and the elderly can view this wildlife without difficulty..It would be ashamed to loose this for the sake of expansion and the almighty dollar. If this propasal goes through …these birds would be lost forever and however many environmental studies are done and paid for by one concerned group or another would convince me otherwise…So lets stop and do some serious thinking before we make some stupid mistakes that we cannot undo…Mistakes like this are going on all over the world..Lets not make another one…

    I am just a concerned citizen who wishes to share with future gererations the pleasures I have experienced from the birds at LaSalle Park !!!

  3. There are many reasons besides the impact on the swans and other water birds and ducks that have used the north shore of the bay as a feeding grounds long before LaSalle discovered it.Enlarging the docking for more boats will in time prevent the use of the old pier and parking area to the general public which is the tax payer. Increasing the number of boats will also have some effect on the canal and lift bridge resulting in longer waits on Eastport Drive. Why not do what was done in Bronte off the side of the lake pier. There is lots of room to build a first class facility with ample parking. The larger boats will not have to wait for the lift bridge times and the cars won’t have longer waits as well. The whole stretch from the Brant Street Pier to the canal is more than enough room for everyone. You don’t bring back the bay and all it’s wild creatures by filling it in. During my life time it has been filled in nearly 50% by the steel companies and then the Port Authority. I hope our councilors will take a stand to protect not only the swans but the bay and the right of all tax payers to use the area as they can do today.

  4. For years many photographers and naturalists have used LaSalle park on Burlington bay, particularly from October through May to photograph birds, mink, beaver and other wildlife. The current marina docks and wave breaker are floating structures that are removed completely in the fall and returned to the water in the spring. This system was built circa 1980 and was designed to have minimal environmental impact on the bay and has worked reasonably well. Boaters use the area on both sides of the wharf in the summer and photographers use these areas in the winter when waterfowl are present.

    Now the LaSalle park environment faces a threat – expansion of the marina facility to accommodate 340 slips and replacement of the floating docks and break water with permanent structures. This will render the complete north side of the wharf and out to the islands unattractive for photos, avian flight photography will be impossible, in addition the permanent wave breaker will insure that the area of the marina will freeze in the winter displacing waterfowl. The Trumpeter Swan monitoring program would likely come to an end.

    About thirty years ago in conjunction with the marina installation extensive landscaping was performed along the LaSalle park shore, the result of which eliminated the habitat of hundreds of Rough-winged and Bank Swallows that riddled the sandy cliffs with tunnels for nest sites. These birds were so numerous that swarms of them could be seen at LaSalle from as far away as the Burlington Canal. These species are no longer present, the landscaping destroyed the cliff face. This indicates to me that environmental assessments often miss the mark.

    I feel no obligation as a taxpayer to finance a marina for boaters. If boaters want a marina let them buy some land out of their own funds and build a marina outside the park. Our public parks are for everyone use not a special interest group that will monopolize the park usage, ruin the landscape, displace the water fowl and expect taxpayers to pay for and provide space and services for their use.

    In April 2013 A petition was sent to the Burlington Mayors office signed by two hundred local people gathered over the course of a few weeks who are opposed to the proposed expansion.

    Now is the time to act if you use and value LaSalle park.

  5. NO – NO – NO

    I have spent a great deal of time trying to put the proper words to paper. I am so appalled that it is very difficult. I am appealing to you with this letter to make the right decision. Please don’t turn this issue into another Pier or Performing Arts fiasco.

    Please do not destroy the overwintering habitat for the Trumpeter Swans, or allow the tree that the Eastern Screech Owl has been raising it’s young in for at least the last 4 years (as long as we have been watching her) to be cut down in order to expand the parking lot to accommodate the boaters. The Cliff Swallow’s habitat was destroyed years ago. There will soon be nothing left of this jewel in the city for us, our children and our grandchildren, etc. to enjoy. Nature in all its glory will be taken away from us, the ordinary folk of Burlington. The boaters however, will have their supposed safe harbour for their very expensive toys, and there will be plenty of space for them to park their cars

    The city of Burlington has a population of 176,000. The marina currently has 219 slips and the proposal is to increase this by 120. I would be very interested to know how many of these slips are used by Burlington residents. To this point, the City of Burlington has spent in excess of $300,000. for Environmental Assessments only, and that does not include the fees for the redesign of the parking lot. The 10,000 tons of rock that will be dumped into the lake for the break wall and expansion of the marina will cost Burlington taxpayers a minimum of $9.2 million. I AM NOT VERY HAPPY that Council is considering spending my hard earned tax dollars to benefit a few.

    I would suggest that the natural atmosphere at LaSalle Park is a better economic benefit to Burlington than an expanded Marina. Many people come from out of town to watch and photograph the swans, etc.

    We met a young man just this week, who was here from New York State to see and photograph the Trumpeter Swans. I am certain that more people would come from far and wide to see the Trumpeters if they just knew about them. How many more people will come to Burlington to view the break wall? How many more people will the 120 additional slips draw to Burlington?

    Maybe some of this money would be better spent promoting LaSalle Park as a tourist attraction for all that it has to offer.

    How many people actually know that:
    – This is the overwintering grounds for more than 200 of Ontario’s Trumpeter Swans
    – Bald Eagles sit on the edge of the ice to fish in Winter
    – In the summer the Osprey dive for fish in the shallows around the park
    Just imagine how many more people would visit our city, enjoy our restaurants and visit LaSalle Park if they knew about it.

    Our hospital needs improvements, children are going to school hungry, seniors need assistance and people are living on the street because there is not suitable housing. The $9.2 million dollars would be of benefit to all these issues.

    Burlington taxes increased for 2015. I don’t object to a tax increase for legitimate expenses that would benefit everyone, but I do object to an expense of a minimum of $9.2 million for a marina.

  6. Please help save the winter habitat for the trumpeter swans. Burlington won’t collapse if it doesn’t have a marina, but the loss of the swans and other wildlife will have an impact on the environment and the livability of this city. Boaters can easily moor their boats in other marinas but the trumpeter swans will suffer from the loss of this place.

    • In fairness, there can be many kinds of sports, entertainment and recreation and this is only one of them in Burlington. Hockey arena’s, parks, golf courses…… they are all for the benefit of citizens to enjoy. The marina is leased by The City of Burlington and there is a Joint Venture Agreement in place between it and The Marina. Boating is no different than owning a cottage and not for the wealthy. It is how some people choose to spend time. The wildlife and boaters can all co-exist nicely and the bubblers that would be installed when there is a permanent wavebreak solution would keep water open for the birds over the harsh winter months. Why are people assuming that this wavebreak will negatively impact waterfowl? It really shouldn’t. As far as parking is concerned, It appears that the parking is used as much by the public who choose to spend leisure time at the water’s edge and expanding it would accommodate all. The marina as well as the water are an attraction that contribute to the beauty and landscape and the influx of boaters from outside of Burlington increases local business revenue. One only has to visit on a Friday or Saturday to watch bridal parties being photographed with the marina as a backdrop to know that there is a beauty and fascination for boats. Nobody is trying to interfere with or hurt the waterfowl, least of all the boaters. Actually it is always of interest to see how many babies are paddling around with their mothers and how quickly they grow to maturity. Taxes have gone up everywhere, not just in Burlington and healthcare, transportation and poverty etc are all important….. this is a completely different budget. Perhaps less widely used but compare the number of hockey arenas to people and you can see that this activity is heavily subsidized. Schools? same thing. Parks? same……
      When the current wavebreak fails, it IS likely that the Marina will also fail. Damage to boats will be certain and there is a study that proves that there is a shortage of Boating Slips that is increasing so it will not be so easy to relocate and money normally spent in Burlington will be taken elsewhere if a vacancy is even available……..Can’t we ALL co-habitate together?

      • there should be an asterisk concerning the study proving there is a shortage of Boating slips. The study was funded by the Marina

  7. A. Frederick Correa
    Mar 20, 2015
    I’m quite aware that the main topic is the displacement of the lovely Trumpeter Swan, but, there are many more species of waterfowl that shelter in the same area close to LaSalle Park in the fall and through the winter. To name but a few: American Coot, Redhead, Golden Eye, Scaup Lesser & Greater, Canvasnbacks, Mergansers, Hooded, Red-breasted and Common, Scoters, Pintails, etc: All of these waterfowl would be threatened by the lack of food close to shore. Please keep it the way it is.

  8. The Marina is a private business at best, and possibly a club. Although I strongly support the swans in this, for me the Marina expansion issue is about money first and the environment second. If the Marina Association had enough money for its expansion without any tax dollars–this would be a different conversation. But it is unconscionable to spend up to 10 million tax dollars from any level of government to enhance the leisure activities (and lower the boat insurance) of approx 350 boat owners and their friends when we have so many other more pressing needs in the city and the region. For example: the number of low-income people in Halton who can not feed their children properly. A second example: My children attend a school with 8 portable classrooms. Portables do not add extra wash rooms or gymnasium space. Wouldn’t that kind of tax money go a long way toward building a new down town elementary school? The Marina needs to fundraise the money for their expansion and to pay for their own environmental impact studies. When they have the money, then we can talk about the swans and the environment and how to work in harmony. Until then, in my opinion, there should not be a conversation.

    In the articles I have read, I have not seen anyone suggest that the Marina will fail without the expansion. For me and my family, the Marina is the weakest attraction at LaSalle Park and expansion will not change that.

  9. Thank you Councillor for your impartial wording and links to ponder. I am hopeful that there is a solution that will work for all parties. It is a shame that the groups involved can’t join forces to preserve the environment, the wildlife, the waterfront, tourism, recreation and all that The City has to offer. As a member of the marina, I am offended that boaters are considered to be elite, wealthy or unconcerned over the impact that an enlarged, safe marina will have. Boating is likely not any more costly than having kids in competitive or rep sports. In many instances, we boaters have experienced that part of our lives and now look forward to this stage of our life in leisure. I know that the city is committed to all aspects of sports and leisure and that it applies to all ages, statuses and interests. There is more to LaSalle than just the Marina. It is a place where wedding couples come to be photographed, where people come to launch day boats, eat their lunch, walk their dogs, daydream, fish or watch fireworks…. Should the marina fail, much of the landscape would change and the only Marina in Burlington would be gone. I don’t think anyone want this.
    Again, thank you for providing a forum. There is a benefit to listening to all sides of the story.

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