The Kingston Waterfront Plan (KWMP) has a time horizon of 20-50 years for its completion. It is a huge multi-million dollar plan for public access to open spaces along our shores and parks to serve the community in its enjoyment of the waterfront, while at the same time being sensitive to the protection of the natural environment and the natural history that exists in these areas.
There are six focus areas with a total of 280 km of shoreline within the City of Kingston. It affects 10,000 hectares of land and water and encompasses both rural and urban areas.[i]
Focus Area 2 involves the Rideau Canal north of Kingston Mills and Colonel By Lake. In addition, Edenwood and Hemlock Downs communities, Loughborough Lake and Collins Lake as well as Treasure Island East off HW2, are also included but fall outside the scope of this report to our neighbours on the Aragon Road and adjacent areas.[ii]
On January 26, 2014, a community consultation, or open house, was held in the Gore Road Fire Hall on HW15. It was well attended by about forty people, and the planners received much feedback which was written down on large maps showing the Cecil and Wilma Graham Park plan, the potential accommodation of parking spaces at the current boar ramp and the Edenwood park area encircling Draper Bay at the west end of Colonel By Lake.
The Cecil and Wilma Graham Park
This draft layout is a generic first presentation by the planners. We should have a good look and decide is the design is iin the best interest of our neighbourhood. At least there are a couple of issues that need correction and more environmental data need to be included.
The draft layout of the Cecil and Wilma Graham Park
It is important to note that the wetlands ringing Colonel By Lake are environmental protection area in the city’s official plan. The peninsula separating Esther March Bay from Colonel By Lake is also indicated as environmental protection. The Cecil and Wilma Graham Park is indicated as “open space”, but parts of it should be wetland and environmental protected area as a result of their natural and secluded features. See the map from the Official Plan on our website.[iii] The most western portion of Esther March Bay that borders on the park is sensitive wetland, if it is official designated as Ontario Significant Wetlands is an open question. The plan for the park projects a boat ramp into this bay which, we pointed out ,would be not be feasible as this bay is one of the most undisturbed spawning and breeding areas on Colonel By Lake, it is also very shallow and marshy. The planners indicated that this would certainly be addressed in the final draft plan. The planners and city staff seemed very sensitive to issues of environmentally protected areas, wetlands, spawning areas, turtle breeding areas and the presence of aquatic plants. Shore areas that were forested or formed protective zones for run-off were also considered important. In short Colonel By Lake, Esther March Bay, Draper Bay and several bays and wetlands to the south and east of us on the Rideau Canal should be considered for their natural role in preserving wildlife, plant life and water quality and leaving them as is might be more important than developing these areas into a cultivated park.
We posed the question if it was a good idea to have a boat ramp into Esther March Bay at all? The bay is full of “deadheads” submerged trees and is shallow. If water sport is encouraged by building facilities here, it should be limited to canoe and small water craft with not more than 9.9Hp outboard motors. Fishing and bird watching would be the most one would expect in this bay. It might be best to leave this bay entirely as is and protect its natural state. The Graham family named the “island” in the bay “Paradise” and it indeed is a little natural piece of paradise. The island and an adjacent boat house is still part of the Graham private property and does not belong to the public park.[iv]
The planners do invite comments. This should give us reason to discuss our part of the Waterfront Master Plan in the Rural Committee and at the final Open House where the draft Master Plan will be presented, the latter will be held in June 2015.
The existing boat ramp was presented as a poorly maintained local access to Colonel By Lake. The planners indicated that the City might not own it. It is most likely a feature that took form over the many years and is part of the history of the Aragon Road. It might well be part of the original Draper farm,now the property of Quintin. Except is also part of the Trans Northern Pipeline and the Hydro right of ways. This would make any future expansion of the boat ramp to offer better access to the lake a tricky undertaking.
I raised the question if making the boat ramp more expansive with designated parking along the Aragon Road would be a good thing? Would it not be better to leave well enough alone? Larger motor boats have access from the Rideau Acres camp site. Our section of Colonel By Lake is used for fishing and canoeing, it is a spawning area for carp, wide mouth bass, sunfish and breeding area for turtles large and small. Beside it is adjacent to significant wetlands to the south-west of Draper Bay.
The planners mentioned that safety had been brought up as a concern, demanding off road parking and other accommodations.
A simple solution to improve safety would be to assign a 40 km/hr zone at the boat ramp AND a speed bump on each side of the boat ramp area. This would be a low cost practical modification to improve road safety in the presence of pared cars, pedestrians, parents with children walking along the road, bicycling, horseback riding and other recreational activities that we are seeing on the Aragon Road.
Richard Allen, our councillor, in an article in the Whig, stated that he had asked for “a staff review to increase road safety in the city’s rural area and find ways to enhance walking and cycling opportunities in villages and hamlets.”[v]
I assume that he would be sensitive to our suggestion not to expand the current boat ramp and to look for simple solutions that do not need a lot of taxpayers funding.
One of the attendees at the open house wrote to me later and said: “Your work on the history and stories of those who lived on Aragon Roa is terrific. Especially given the true “settlers history” of the area. Certainly from a “rural and natural ” point of view there is much to protect. My immediate thoughts are… convenience needs to be replaced with respect … even to the point of limiting or stopping vehicle access into the park lands and certainly never trying to encourage any power boats to even be in the area. ie for hikers, canoes and kayaks only.”
Note that the Edenwood plan calls for a granular path connecting the Aragon Road via a right-of-way through the meadow with Maple Lawn Drive. It would make a nice connection with the hiking paths to the south of Edenwood which are maintained by the residents there and link with the dyke that runs from Edenwood to Kingston Mills.
In conclusion, the planners suggested that the time horizon for implementation of all park ideas is 20-50 years. Clearly what we provide as input will not directly benefit us, but hopefully is a gift to our grandchildren and future generations. However some of the six focus areas, five of which are outside our neighbourhood, might have parts in them that could be approved for implementation in a much shorter period, such as the Douglas Fluhrer Park along Wellington Street just north of the La Salle Causeway on the Inner Harbour. For the other areas and the Waterfront Masterplan click on end-note [i]
If you have comments or suggestions to be added to this post, or if you see mistakes, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or send your ideas and comments directly to: Kristine Hebert, Parks and Open Space Planning Coordinator at the Recreation and Leisure Services Department, email email@example.com
[iii] https://aragonroadhistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/off-plan-detail-larger-agric-jpg.jpg and for the whole map go to the official plant at: https://www.cityofkingston.ca/documents/10180/541790/OfficialPlan_Schedule3B.pdf/362c7b84-6c4f-45d6-8dfa-be5901c48890
[iv] Wilma Graham’s story at: https://aragonroadhistory.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/wilma-grahams-story/
[v] The Kingston Whig Standard, page A5, Wednesday, January 28, 2015.
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