Morrisburg Beach upgrades begin

Waterfront closed for renovation – Parts of the Morrisburg waterfront were fenced off this week as construction began on improvements to the Morrisburg beach area. Changes include an expanded parking lot, fixing issues with ditching, and clean up and widening of the beach area itself. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

MORRISBURG – After a year of planning, permits and approvals, the Morrisburg Beach area is undergoing a renovation.

The work is considered phase one of a broader plan by the Morrisburg Waterfront Implementation Committee, whose mandate is to plan for improvements to the Waterfront Park and Earl Baker Park.

“This first phase will take us through a major beach improvement,” said Maggie Harvey, MWIC co-chair.

The committee identified a number of issues with the beach area in the planning process.

“The ditching is a barrier for those with mobility issues,” she said. “The beach had weeds encroaching all the time, and kept washing out.”

The process was long for the committee, and South Dundas, as the municipality had to apply for permits to work on the shoreline with South Nation Conservation, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“Those permits took a while,” said Harvey. “Ben Macpherson and councillor Marc St. Pierre were a great help to get this project going.”

The work was approved in February 2018, with a specific window for when work on the shoreline could be completed. Work had to start no earlier than the end of August, and be completed by the end of October. This minimizes damage to fish habitats and disruption to the shoreline marine ecosystem.

The beach is being cleaned up from the eastern edge to the fence between the area and the Morrisburg Golf Club. To the west, the beach is being expanded about 20 feet. Parking is being expanded as well, but that will not be paved for a year to allow for the lot to settle. The walking path also is being rerouted to avoid people walking through the parking lot to continue east.
While there are improvements being made to the beach, not everything on the group’s checklist is being done.

“We had wanted to remove the cement abutment the floating dock is attached to,” Harvey said. “The plan ultimately is to reconfigure the dock to a ‘C’ shape like Iroquois’ but the quotes that came in were higher than expected.”

Another project not being checked-off is changes to the Cruickshank Amphitheatre.

“We wanted to lower the slope of the theatre and add an accessible entrance to the back of the space,” Harvey said.

Harvey said the group received the blessing of Les Cruickshank to do the work, as he donated the construction of the amphitheatre. She said with the sale of Cruickshank Construction to Coco Paving, the MWIC is looking for a partner with heavy equipment to help with the modifications to the amphitheatre.

“I know Evonne [Delegarde] was going to contact Coco Paving to see if they were interested, but I don’t know if she did or not,” Harvey said.

Adding wheel chair accessibility to the river through a specialized ramp is another project that Harvey would like to have completed, but due to the specialized costs involved it is a long-term project.

She said that she expected the work would be completed by the end of October.

Phase two will likely focus on the boat launch area at the west end of the Waterfront Park.

“We’re going to try to rectify the parking issues by taking out one of the lesser used ball diamonds,” she said. “There are improvements in the area we can do that are relatively low-cost to the community.”

Harvey said that the committee would love more input from the public.

The MWIC will hold its next meeting September 19th at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at the South Dundas Municipal Centre in Morrisburg. The meeting is open to the public.