Support local news? Donate to Niagara Now.Support local news? Donate to Niagara Now.
The Weather Network
Oct. 21, 2018 | Sunday
Local News
Group pushes for a natural Lakeshore park
The former rifle range on Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake. (Richard Harley/Niagara Now)

BY: Debi Goodwin, Special to Niagara Now

While voters are asking candidates in the upcoming municipal election strong questions about development and its effects on our heritage, one group in town believes they should also be seeking candidates’ opinions on preserving the natural and historic Department of National Defence property along the Lakeshore before crucial decisions about that land are made. 

For ten years now, the board of the Harmony Residents Group has been advocating for a public park on the land that would include trails and educational opportunities while protecting and rehabilitating its forests, wetlands and shoreline. The property contains one of the last stands of Carolinian forests on the Great Lakes with several endangered or threatened species of trees and is the habitat to a wide variety of wildlife including a valuable nesting area for the threatened chimney sweep. 

“As well as preserving the Carolinian forest,” says Finn Madsen, Harmony’s President and Chair, “this will put the ‘lake’ back in Niagara-on-the-Lake with the longest stretch of waterfront accessible to the public.” 

The proposal, which can be read online at harmonyresidents.org, calls for the soon-to-be decommissioned Wastewater Treatment Plant to be returned to a natural wetlands area, keeping the existing building as a welcome centre and encouraging the ponds and surrounding land to naturalize. 

“This is exactly what was done by the NPCA (Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority) with great success at Biggar Lagoons in Grimsby,” says Peter Harvey, the group’s Vice Chair. 

The proposal also calls for the park to reflect the historic use of the land by Indigenous people, early settlers and the military. It believes such a park would be a draw in the growing market in nature and heritage tourism. 

The ultimate use of the land has been on hold until  DND cleared the property of any remaining armaments before giving it to Parks Canada who will decide its fate. In the past year, the clean-up accelerated to the point that the transfer is in progress. In preparation for its plan, Parks Canada has been hearing proposals from groups like Harmony. NPCA is now looking at taking the lead in pushing for the park in partnership with the town, the region and Harmony. 

To find out how much support the new council will give to the park, the Harmony board has sent out emails to all candidates asking them what they believe should happen on the property. The answers they receive will be posted on the Harmony Residents Group website. 

 

Debi Goodwin is a member of the Harmony Residents Group board.

f4033d7793009a4053c4497d8eccc3d53dc2dca8:f3b26ac4b4afe3f66e6edbd72929abcc23aa338f