Feburary 9, 2015
SHOREWALK REASONS FOR SUPPORTING THE HOLLOWAY BAY PROPOSAL
Good evening Mayor Redekop, Regional Councillor
Annunziata,Councillors Knutt, Butler McDermott, Lubberts, Zanko, Mr. Kuchyt, Ms. Hansen, Mr. Brady and Staff.
I am here on behalf of the Ontario Shorewalk Association and its many Fort Erie members and supporters. Our association's goal is to achieve public walking rights, Right of Passage, on all of Ontario's Great Lakes Shores and to ensure access via road allowances and parkland in order get to our shores.
At your recent Capital Budget Meeting the proposed budget of $200,000 to develop the Holloway Bay road allowance to Lake Erie was removed. We were deeply disappointed by the vote to remove this important project from the budget and are here to ask you to reconsider and reinstate it.
I note from your staff's research that 97% of Fort Erie Lake Erie shore is privately owned and inaccessible to the public. At the same time it is frequently acknowledged that our Lake Erie shoreline is the town's most valuable natural asset. Isn't it ironic? All that great waterfront but only 3% publicly available.
We are all aware that beyond the Point Abino gate westward to the Port Colborne boundary we have virtual 100% inaccessibility.
That would be changed if we got shoreline access with the Holloway Bay Project which calls for a boardwalk and stairs over the approaches to a beautiful sand beach. The stairs and boardwalk would protect the sand hills and unique Carolinian forest which is an extension of Marcy Woods. This project would have no negative environmental impact and signage on the walkway would enhance our appreciation of this wonderful biodiversity and in itself be an attraction.
Why then strike it from the budget?
The cost to tax payers ostensibly makes the project prohibitive but in this case that argument seems to go against the facts as we understand them.
It has been pointed out by staff that a reserve fund of $100,000 is available now from the 5% fee levied on development. What better way to spend it than on a new and significant public access “beyond the gate” and that money is already on hand it would not be raised from further taxation. We also have a unique opportunity to tap into a regional waterfront development fund that could cover much of the remaining $100,000. The catch here is that Fort Erie, due to its already well developed waterfront plan, is at a temporary advantage over the other 11 municipalities who will be vying for their “piece of the pie”.
DON'T DELAY, ACT NOW.
Shouldn't Port Colborne be contributing? Perhaps in a perfect world but the fact is Holloway Bay road and the road allowance to the lake is 100% Fort Erie property. It is therefore Fort Erie's responsibility to develop our own property. We would not expect to help finance a Niagara Falls or Port Colborne project based on its proximity to us. That expectation should work in both directions.
What about the contention that it is remote and will be little used?
It has the potential to be a “one of a kind” environmental and beachfront attraction that could be rightfully advertised in our town's promotional pamphlets as one of the most memorable places to visit on the Great Lakes. I climbed from the road to the beach over the sand hills a few years ago. When you look out toward the Point Abino Lighthouse from high on the last dune before the beach it truly is a memorable sight and one I've never forgotten.
The beach itself is characterized by a fine white sand and clear sandy lake bottom. For bikers on the Friendship Trail it's about 2 km. and a few minutes away. For us in Fort Erie it is really just a 5 or 10 or perhaps 15 minutes drive away and well worth it.
VISITORS WILL COME! FORT ERIE WILL COME!
The intangible obstacle not raised by council may be resistance from the private lakefront land owners. Some will recognize the public's right to access a public beach but it's likely that there will also be opposition. The fact that we have every legal and moral right to access the lake via this road allowance will quite possibly be challenged. That challenge may take the route of suggesting this environmentally sensitive land should remain pristine and untouched and that this public project is an environmental threat.
Such opposition would totally overlook the irony of the fact that all the lakefront private development is, by its very nature, far more damaging to a fragile ecosystem due to the necessary road network, housing, lawns, sheds, gardens, that are a necessity of cottage life. We that recognize that impact cannot be avoided. We ask that you the beachfront property owners recognize the public's right to access our very limited public beachfront. This boardwalk and stairway project would entail is an a absolute minimal environmental impact; construction of a 5 or 6 foot wide, carefully engineered and planned path for stairs and a boardwalk through a 70 foot road wide allowance. This is a plan which fully respects the sensitivity of the Carolinian environment that is so unique to this area. We feel confident that this Holloway Bay break through project can be successful, and give the community our first accessible beach access point beyond the Point Abino gateand is a destination that would create a new and exciting waterfront attraction that would showcase the rare, exceptional landscape and biodiversity of Holloway Bay.
WE URGE THE COUNCIL TO REINSTATE THE PROJECT!!
Shorewalk's membership thanks Mayors Redekop and Martin and their respective councils and staff for their steadfast support of our agenda over the past 10 years. Highlights for us include