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Oct. 23, 2021 | Saturday
Editorials and Opinions
Editorial: A solution for Ryerson Park

It's been a good week for residents living near NOTL's Ryerson Park.

Going back to last fall, people residing near the lakeside park finally had had enough with traffic, parking and other related problems plaguing their neighbourhood for years and decided to try to do something about it – once and for all.

Ryerson Park is a quaint, but very small greenspace in the Chautauqua neighbourhood, just west of Old Town.

It is the go-to spot in Niagara-on-the-Lake for watching beautiful sunsets on spring and summer evenings, and is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike to picnic, swim or relax during the day.

But with few parking spots and many neighbouring streets barely 13 feet wide, the congestion and other associated problems pushed residents to the tipping point.

The Friends of Ryerson Park was born and while not all its proposals were realistic, the group worked professionally and co-operatively with the town's administration to come up with some workable solutions.

Kudos to the residents and their leaders for achieving that and to the town staff for listening and proposing what for now is a pilot project aimed at dealing with the big issue in this tiny enclave: parking and traffic.

Like the rest of Niagara-on-the-Lake, the neighbourhood is a tourist magnet. We hope the town's plan helps to find the balance between visitors' desires to explore the area and residents' concerns about safety and traffic.

It's sometimes been a rocky road to this point, marked most recently by Coun. Erwin Wiens' criticisms of town-wide restrictions in parks, including Ryerson, rules that he is concerned will ultimately serve to "exclude" rather than be "inclusive." It remains to be seen how that scenario will play out.

In the meantime, the pilot project that incorporates targeted bylaw enforcement and restricts parking in some areas around Ryerson Park seems like a win-win.

Coincidental to all this, as reported this week in The Lake Report, there is a good chance that nearby Niagara Shores Park will be fully reopened, including allowing vehicle access, by next summer.

The town and Parks Canada have been talking about this prospect for months but until now it was not known what the grand plan was – and if Niagara Shores would ever fully reopen.

With the same sunsets and Toronto skyline view, and being home to colonies of bank swallows (a threatened species), this beautiful park, literally around the corner from Ryerson Park, would in theory, at least, siphon away many of the folks who now congregate in the Chautauqua neighbourhood.

For now, it remains walk-in only. Plenty of work is still to be done and exactly what facilities Niagara Shores will have is not yet known. It is ecologically fragile so special care is needed before it can fully reopen. But kudos to the town and Parks Canada for getting us this far. Let's make it happen.

And if you have never been to Niagara Shores, we urge you to visit. It is a gem and well worth the short drive along Lakeshore Road.