Burlington Council poised to sell public waterfront land

Council will decide Tues. Oct. 15 whether to sell a parcel of public waterfront land between Market St. and St. Paul St., running behind three private homes (see map). The public lands are owned in part by the Ministry of Natural Resources (along the shoreline) and the city. The homeowners who back onto this land wish to purchase the land to extend their private properties to the shoreline.

Council voted to retain “windows” at Market/St Paul but sell “parkette” between them.
Council voted to retain “windows” at Market/St Paul but sell “parkette” between them.

The city’s Community Services Committee (which includes all members of City Council) voted 6-1 to sell the property to the three homeowners, and only retain the street ends at Market St. and St. Paul St. as “Windows to the Lake” for public use.  Developing these windows (landscaping/bench/garbage can/signage) will cost $80,000. This recommendation heads to council for final approval.

Let council know what you think. As always, feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns.

My Take:  I support retaining the land in public hands for the reasons outlined below.

Why Sell?

Some of the reasons given to sell the land between the road ends include concerns over the cost and whether there is a need for more waterfront park, when Port Nelson is a few doors down; vandalism or drunken behavior because the path isn’t visible from the street; legal issues, including what to do about the seawall which was built and paid for in 1990 by homeowners with city permission (the city paid for the portion of seawall at the street ends).

Why retain?

View of lake from public path between Market & St. Paul
View of lake from public path between Market & St. Paul

The concerns that have been raised can be resolved: Vandalism/drunkenness sometimes occurs in other parks and we take steps to address it rather than closing parks; there is $9.8m in a fund for park development, more than enough to build the parkette and windows to the lake (total $182,000 plus $7500 annually); and the legal issues in my view are overstated and can be resolved. In a ruling dating back to 1993 (whose decision is public), the judge affirmed that the purchasers of one of the homes built the seawall on public (MNR) property at their risk and are not owed compensation from the seller of the home or city. If any compensation is owed, the judge said, it would be from the MNR. The current homeowners told committee last week they would consider taking legal action against the city if the city chose not to sell the land to them, but it is unclear what grounds they would have.

Waterfront Vision:

Keeping these waterfront lands in public hands honours our City and Regional Official Plans, which encourage steps to build a continuous waterfront, trail along (or near) the shoreline. If we lose these lands it will be hard to get them back, at least not without granting significant height/density through redevelopment in exchange for public shoreline access.

It doesn’t make sense to me to let go of public lands on the shoreline at a time when the city/region are contemplating spending up to $10million to buy and demolish private homes in the Beachway area – which are not on the shoreline.

Have your say:

Should council keep this parcel? Sell it? Let council know what you think!

Email councilors or register as a delegation to speak at City Council by calling 905-335-7600 x7805, or registering online at www.burlington.ca
Ward 1:
Ward 2:
Ward 3:
Ward 4:
Ward 5:
Ward 6:

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.


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  1. I support keeping the land in public hands, especially since this can be included in the water front trail.

    Curious, who knew the land in question is in fact public space. Walk to the edge of Market Streets `Window on the Lake’ and you would assume the land is private given the fencing and landscaping to the very edge of the seawall. Have the owners consciously assumed the public space for personal enjoyment?

    There is no access from the west side of the parkette at the bottom of Market St because of the home owners fencing and corralling the property to the east.

    Accessing the hidden parkette from the east, from St Paul Streets Window on the Lake you are soon dissuaded from further access by strategic landscaping which essentially draws a line for fear of trespassing at 235 Market Street.

    And now there is the suggestion that Mr Nand will consider legal action if the city doesn’t sell. While the fence may be prudent from a safety perspective (seawall is quite high), this smacks of arrogance.

    One wonders how many more properties on the waterfront have been similarly assumed for private use.

  2. I would like to believe I am a little more objective than some of the immediate neighbours having recently relocated to Burlington.
    I have to agree with Councillor Ward on this issue despite some valid neighbour objections related largely to petty crimes.
    We must not only retain, but increase public waterfront land for all to enjoy, it’s that simple.

  3. I agree with the spirit of this, but the opportunity for a continuous waterfront trail is long, long long gone. I live a few blocks away and didn’t know this existed. Based on looking at Google Maps, I would see no reason to dip down from Lakeshore and walk that little patch. There are bigger battles to fight.

  4. Hi,
    its Byron Kaczmarek, I attended the Community Service Committee meeting
    and it is my view that the Counselors and the Mayor gave this issue
    serious thought, including a site visitation, and carefully weighed the
    merits and challenges for each of the
    3 options presented. before voting. They listened to all the
    delegates, asked good questions, and they had the benefit of a
    confidential report on the complex legal issues surrounding one of the
    owners properties. Complex legal matters cannot be distilled to a single
    sentence nor is it fair to our Counselors and Mayor that we second
    guess a democratic process. The Windows to the Park will remain, and
    there is a commitment to improve them but as stewards of our finances,
    the counselors and Mayor were right in their decision to deny a 4th
    park with a distance of 6 homes. We have trouble maintaining the parks
    we have now, and based on our experiences with Nelson Park, our police
    department don’t have the resources to proactively manage the vandalism
    and trespass issues that frustrate law abiding citizens who live in
    close proximity.

What's your take?