By Richard Leitner, News Staff
Fifty Point Conservation Area could add a second entranceway as part of an operational review this fall that will also consider creating a new walking trail and replacing a closed fishing bridge.
Bruce Mackenzie, director of customer service for the Hamilton Conservation Authority, said the review is needed because the 80-hectare lakeshore park is both one of the smallest and busiest, drawing many people from the GTA to its sandy beach.
Home to a 330-boat marina and a stocked fishing pond, the area also expanded its campground to 70 sites two years ago and hosts a popular outdoor ball hockey league that is hoping to add a second rink, he said.
The high use has been a boon for revenues, but led to conflicts among visitors, especially with those in the ball hockey league, who are often in a rush to get in and out of the park as quickly as possible, he said.
In a presentation to the authority’s conservation advisory board, Mackenzie said the review will explore the possibility of converting an existing driveway off of Kelson Avenue North in Grimsby into a separate entrance for the ball hockey league.
“It has an effect on the whole conservation area because the customers drive through the whole conservation area,” he said. “The sound (from games) travels throughout most of the conservation area.”
Mackenzie said the review will also study the feasibility of creating a walking trail, including for the 200 neighbours who buy annual passes and presently use the main road.
One possibility is creating a figure-eight route that would circle and cross the fishing pond via a new floating bridge that would replace a wooden one that is closed because it is no longer structurally sound, he said.
Mackenzie said any changes will also consider the impacts on the park’s natural areas, including two significant woodlots that are among the few left along that area of the lake.
The manmade spit that was created 40 years ago to stop shoreline erosion of about two metres per year has not only brought the sandy beach, but made the area a hotspot for migratory waterfowl, he said.
A bird viewing platform is expected to be built at the spit next year.
“We have recorded about 65 bird breeding species and that’s phenomenal in a 200-acre property,” he said. “So we’re challenged with, ‘How do we maintain that kind of natural diversity within the conservation area?”
The park is already undergoing major upgrades, including installation of a sewer line to replace the septic system for the campground, which requires sewage from holding tanks to be trucked away.
A new waterline from a housing survey to the west will replace the existing one from Baseline Road to the marina, where fire hydrants are covered with plastic bags because the water pressure is too low.
Mackenzie said a plan developed with the Hamilton Fire Department would use hydrants from the neighbouring survey and, if necessary, water from the marina in the event of a blaze.