Should residents living in the Burlington Beach community of Beachway Park on Lakeshore Road be allowed to stay?
That will be a key question during the upcoming review of the Burlington Beach Master Plan. Burlington Beach stretches from the Burlington Canal on our border with Hamilton, up to and including Spencer Smith Park. The area encompasses Beachway Park, the sand bar from Lakeshore/Maple to the canal.
Beachway Park is classified as a regional park, and is jointly governed by Halton Region, Conservation Halton and the City of Burlington.
Current regional policy calls for all private homes on both sides of Lakeshore Road south of the wastewater treatment plant to be purchased and demolished, for parkland. Between 1976 and 1997, 129 properties were acquired. Today, 30 remain in private hands, half on the East (lake) side of Lakeshore Road, and half along the West side of Lakeshore Road.
The area on the shoreline (East) side of Lakeshore Road is a dynamic beach, subject to shifting sand, wave uprush and flooding, and is considered unsafe for habitable buildings. The beach is also home to some rare and uncommon vegetation, which serve to protect the sand dunes from erosion.
The area on the west side of Lakeshore Road is in a flood hazard. Conservation staff are currently working on maps to define the boundary of the flood hazard, and will present those at the November public meeting. Buildings in this area must be floodproofed.
None of the homes have sewer hookups, which has been a challenge for the community and contributed to the deterioration of some of the properties. Cost for sewer hookups is estimated at $80-100,000.
Some homeowners have installed state of the art pumping systems, and poured tens of thousands of dollars into upgrades.
So, should the residents, stay or go? Some want to sell; many want to stay. Our entire community and region will have to weigh the cost of acquiring the properties with the extra parkland that will provide. One the one hand, if the homes weren’t there Lakeshore Road could be rerouted, increasing the shoreline park area. On the other hand, current master plans would allow commercial uses – restaurants or cafes; water-related sales and rental businesses. So why not allow the residents to remain also, for eyes on the street after business hours?
The area is currently designated mixed use in Burlington’s Official Plan, which permits commercial and residential uses.
If the residents stay, sewer hookup would be needed. However, the risk is that once that service ia extended, there will be pressure to redevelop the whole area with higher density residential and/or commercial development, losing the single family cottage home character that exists now.
Given recent Burlington city council decisions allowing extra height and density beyond the Official Plan, the concern is that even with limited zoning in place, inappropriate high density development would inevitably occur.
As the review gets underway, I will be providing additional background and seeking your input on your vision for Beachway Park. The first public meeting is Nov. 29 7pm at the Waterfront Hotel. The purpose of the meeting is to review background information, provide context within policies of various agencies and discuss next steps in proceeding with the Master Plan. For a copy of the PowerPoint presentation presented to the recent Regional Waterfront Parks Advisory Committee, email me a email@example.com
My take: It’s important to have eyes on the street in the beach, which already has problems with beach parties, camp fires and vandalism. I’m open to exploring a Beachway Plan that would permit some low density residential and commercial uses, especially on the west (non-shoreline) side of Lakeshore Road.
What do you think? Should residents be allowed to stay on the beach? How much retail/commercial/residential development – if any – and what type would you like to see in this area? What’s your vision for the park? Let me know by commenting below or by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org.
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