By Kevin Werner, News Staff
The multi-million-dollar makeover of Confederation Park, which may include honouring the iconic War of 1812 ships, the Hamilton and Scourge, should begin later this year.
Members of the public works committee approved at their Oct. 7 meeting, cutting down 76 existing trees at the park’s Stoney Creek Pond area. An additional 28 trees that are in poor condition or are invasive species will also be cut down.
The work will allow city staff to build another kilometer of trail, which is an important aspect to the $80-million Confederation Park master plan project that council approved earlier in 2010. A public information session to outline the draft uses of the project was presented to the community in December 2012.
The plan includes constructing a Class ‘A’ 6-metre asphalt paved trail that would connect with the Lake Ontario Trail system. The new trail will provide an additional 790 metres of trail and an accessible observation platform. An existing 1.5-metre granular trail along the eastern shoreline of the Stoney Creek Pond will be maintained. It’s expected to cost about $5,000 annually to maintain the trail.
About 80 per cent of the trail will be constructed on existing roadways within the park. A portion of Confederation Drive, for instance, will be converted into trail and to for service vehicle use only. About 20 per cent of the trail will be constructed through the forested area.
Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins said construction on the trail should begin later this year, and be fully available to the public by next year.
It’s expected to cost just over $100,000 to remove the trees, but $36,300 will be offset for the new tree plantings.
But the trail project is only the beginning of what will be a multi-year project to rejuvenate the 93-hectare Confederation Park so it becomes a destination point for people.
“I want to have something going on every year at the park,” said Collins.
He said about $3 million has been allocated in the 2014 budget for the park.
Collins said he will be securing the estimated $7 million to construct the sports park around the 5.8-hectare Stoney Creek Pond area, and eradicate the former campground site, identified in the master plan. The sports field area, which will include a cricket pitch, two intermediate soccer fields that can be changed into a junior cricket pitch, an on-site parking lot, washrooms, and new tree plantings, was one of the new additions to the uses of the park that had area residents applauding.
The Stoney Creek Pond is near an adjacent forest and is designated as a local natural area under the city’s urban official plan.
Collins said the cost for the sports park will be comparable to the Heritage Green sports complex on Upper Stoney Creek.
But the $7 million will only be a portion of the $80 million that will be spent on renovating Confederation Park. The master plan recommends creating a year-round, multi-use facility for the public that proposes relocating the go-kart facility from the west end to a more central facility; eliminating the greenhouse; building a new main entrance at the end of Centennial Parkway; allowing public transit access within the park; partnering with the private sector to open some commercial ventures, such as a restaurant; and allowing winter activities, such as an ice skating area.
The park attracts about 1,200 visitors a day, and about 250,000 people in a year. Collins suggests that as the park transforms into a more user-friendly area, it could conceivably see over 1 million people take part in activities in the facility.
He will also be securing money for a new entrance from the North Service Road, and the relocation of the park’s main entrance. Collins said he will be talking to residents along Grays Road to mitigate any parking and traffic issues in their area.
What Collins also envisions is to redevelop the park to honour the War of 1812 ships Hamilton and Scourge, which he says have been forgotten by the city and residents.
“We have undervalued the importance of those ships,” said Collins.
He said there was initial excitement within the community when the ships were discovered inLakeOntarioin 1975. And that positive feeling remained when they were featured on the cover of the National Geographic magazine. But Collins said over the years, even during the War of 1812 celebrations, the Hamilton and Scourge have been, if not forgotten, at least muted in their importance to the community. A memorial area in the park for the Hamilton and Scourge sailors who lost their lives, is tucked away, hidden from view by the trees and buildings
Collins is suggesting a design contest be held to create a new entrance to the park. He wants to keep with the nautical theme throughout the park, and incorporate the new design into signs, and information areas.
Collins helped to create the nautical theme entrances to Bayfront Park, and along the Waterfront. The sculpture design at Pier 4 with the sale being held down by individuals has become a distinctive scene for the Hamilton area. Collins wants the same thing to happen for the newly designed Confederation Park renovation.
“It’s important to have a significant gateway entrance for the park,” said Collins.
“I would like to see the park celebrate the Hamilton and Scourge, and identify with it.”