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Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada

Residents Bring Lots of Ideas to Lakefield Waterfront Meeting Hosted by Parks Canada

It was standing room only for latecomers, a scene of energetic creativity at Marshland Centre in Lakefield. On February 22, 2012 some 60 people met with Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW) officials to talk about future uses for river front property owned by Parks Canada in the village of Lakefield.

One of several potential FIT scenarios and photos of the property
© Parks Canada

Ideas flowed with six distinct themes surfacing:
  • Culinary Tourism (ie: eco-friendly marina, unique brew pub/cafe/artisan/museum blend)
  • Heritage (ie: mixed use, year round historical centre w retail/bistro)
  • Artisan Space (ie: year round workshops and gallery for various guilds)
  • Visitor Resources (ie: family oriented community/info center)
  • Residential (ie: seniors’ residence; luxury condos)
  • Green Space (children/community gardens; parkland; labyrinth)
Suggestions falling outside of these categories included a canoe-shaped casino, heliport pad and recreational water park.

The lively two-hour session started with a presentation from TSW's Hydro & Business Development Manager, Bill Fox, who showcased a successful waterfront redevelopment project in Fenelon Falls as an example of the kind of project that could be possible.

Fenelon Falls became a hub of activity following redevelopment.
© Parks Canada

Fox also referenced the Government's response to recommendations contained in the 2008 Panel report concerning the future of the TSW. "Parks Canada began to explore opportunities for establishing long-term revenue streams, based on commercial leases, in support of canal operations. Those of you who have read the 2008 Panel report It's All About the Water will know the financial challenges related to recapitalization and ongoing maintenance of canal infrastructure," said Fox. "We're looking for an approach that benefits the village of Lakefield and generates revenue for TSW."

A spirited exchange of questions and comments followed Fox’s presentation and peppered conversations throughout the rest of the evening. These Q&As and others, can be found by checking out Lakefield Property Development Questions & Answers.

Parks Canada is just beginning to explore all options and plans to return to the community in spring. At that time the public can view artist drawings of potential scenarios and look at architectural "FIT" plans that work with bylaws and property limitations. Council can expect a presentation shortly thereafter. Following that, individuals, groups and businesses will be invited to share their partnering ideas through a call for "Expressions of Interest."

As a side issue, during summary discussions a resident whose home backs onto the site under discussion, mentioned how the Parks Canada property was in a state of neglect and reminisced that her grandchildren, when they were youngsters, had earned money collecting bottles left by boaters visiting the area. Fox offered to speak with the area manager about ground maintenance. Since the meeting, a TSW crew has visited the compound to clean up trees and brush.

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