News

Wainfleeters wary of NPCA waterfront plan

By Wayne Campbell, for Postmedia Network

Koral Wysocki, left, and Carol Nagy examine a display board of a plan for the Lakewood Park property during a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority open house in Wainfleet Wednesday. (Wayne Campbell/Special to Postmedia Network)

Koral Wysocki, left, and Carol Nagy examine a display board of a plan for the Lakewood Park property during a Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority open house in Wainfleet Wednesday. (Wayne Campbell/Special to Postmedia Network)

A plan to create a lakefront conservation areas master plan for Wainfleet drew a skeptical response from residents Wednesday.

Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s third open house on the plan saw stiff reaction from 45 residents to suggestions for Wainfleet’s four conservation areas during a session held at the Wainfleet Firefighters Memorial Hall.

Residents examined display boards showing possibilities for Long Beach, Morgan’s Point, a new Lakewood site, and the Wainfleet quarry and wetlands.

They also listened to presentations by NPCA staff and consultants.

Mark Brickell, director of operations and strategic initiatives for NPCA, stressed there is time for more input into the master plan. Completion is up to two years away, he said.

NPCA must do an ecological assessment of the four properties and must work out financial implications. It also needs to build business cases for some ideas, he said.

Implementation of a master plan would stretch over 10 to 20 years, he said.

Pierre Chauvin, a consultant with MHBC, said the plans shown on display boards Wednesday drew from earlier open houses. There were additions and removals.

He saw a need for branding, consistent signage and possible partnerships with private operators of attractions such as a zipline at the quarry.

Carol Nagy said talk of ziplines “is not my idea of what a conservation authority should do.”

What about replenishing hardwood trees, she asked.

Mike Tenszen, who grew up on Morgan’s Point, told NPCA staff to leave its park alone rather than look for development partnerships that may destroy it “just to make pocket change for the region.”

Veronica Binka, who lives across from Morgan’s Point park, said developing it will alter it.

Birds come there because they are not a lot of people, she said. A proposed amphitheatre would go on top of dens used by foxes.

Brickell said a boardwalk at Morgan’s Point would improve access for more people.

The NPCA experience with its Hawk Watch event in Grimsby shows 700 people can come without affecting bird migration, he said.

NPCA presenters said ideas for activities in the conservation areas came from suggestions made at earlier open houses.

One resident asked if they were just single suggestions consultants latched onto as money-makers.

Koral Wysocki said during the open house NPCA staff seemed more intent on arguing than listening.

Also of concern were proposed access fees.

Entrance fees to parks, such as Long Beach and Lakewood, would increase sustainability, said NPCA staff. Wainfleet residents would not be charged because they pay taxes for Wainfleet services to the parks.

Jeannine Deruiter asked what the NPCA would tell people coming from outside the area. Will they be paying for access to nature and beaches?

Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs, a Morgan’s Point resident and member of the NPCA board, said some of the issues raised during the open house have turned up at township-owned beach properties.

Beachgoers, unaware of boundaries, use private beaches, she said. It could be an issue at Lakewood with a new condo development beside the NPCA park on the former children’s camp.

Brickell said Wednesday’s open house turnout was similar to two earlier ones. Some people were new while others had attended earlier meetings.

Information about the master plan for the four lakefront areas is on the NPCA website www.npca.ca. Comments can be made by email.

“We have a long way to go,” before master plan is complete, said Brickell.