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Halton Regional staff support removing residential community in Beachway

To Committee: Wed. Oct. 16, 9:30am; To council: Wed. Oct. 23, 9:30am

Burlington's Beachway Park Halton Region Waterfront Plan
The sand beach at Beachway Park – already fully publicly accessible.

Regional staff are recommending that the private homes along Beachway be bought and removed for parkland, and that an updated Master Plan for the beach and property acquisition strategy be developed by April 2015. The acquisition policy would be developed in conversation with the city of Burlington, Conservation Halton and beach area residents, and might include: opportunities to use incentives, long-term lease arrangements, alternate property valuation methodologies and funding commitments.

The recommendation comes to the Planning & Public Works Committee Wed. Oct. 16, 9:30am, and any recommendations or motions from that committee flow to full Regional Council for a vote, Wed. Oct. 23, 9:30am. You can read the staff report and recommendations  here You can also register to speak at both committees by calling 311 or registering onlinehere

None of Burlington city council’s motions on the Beachway were reflected in the report, although the minutes of the council meeting were subsequently distributed to Regional Council members.

Burlington city council voted 6-1 to “recognize the continued existence of a residential community as adding value to the park experience;” and further to direct staff to develop a park plan based on strategic land acquisition, as well as no further land acquisition. Burlington council also voted to encourage the Region to change its Official Plan to match Burlington’s Official Plan, which has residential zoning for the community on the West Side of Lakeshore Rd. Additional motions dealt with acquiring specific identified properties, and protecting property values under a “willing buyer willing seller” process.

Read the motions and recorded votes in the minutes of the council meeting here – pg 11

Jim & Marie Milner want to stay on the beach where they've lived over 70 years.
Jim & Marie Milner want to stay on the beach where they’ve lived over 70 years.

My Take: The best outcome for the residents of Halton now and in the future is to maintain a vibrant neighbourhood along the Beach. The concerns raised in the Regional Report about leaving residents there (flooding, encroachments, sewer systems) can all be resolved – and have been resolved for government buildings in the area. We should not have a different standard for public uses than private ones. We must also be careful not to let problems dictate policy, but rather set a vision and then address the challenges to make it happen. The vision for Beachway has changed in successive Master Plans; later ones included a residential community on the West side, and gave “low priority” to purchasing homes on the East side of Lakeshore Rd.

However, the Regional Official Plan was not updated to reflect that change in vision to embrace the residential community. That should have been done when the Master Plans changed 20 years ago; its our task to update it now.

Finally, regarding the notion that Halton residents will get more park if the private homes are no longer there: buying the homes will not deliver any more sand beach or public waterfront access because that is already fully public. The private homes are not along the waterfront.

If buying these homes would provide additional public waterfront access, it would be worth pursuing, but that isn’t the case here. Our priority for land acquisition should be direct waterfront access.

 

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.

What's your take?