Editorial – An accessible waterfront?

One of the most talked about local issue outside of COVID-19 this past week is the plan by the municipality to block vehicular access to the Morrisburg Waterfront Park. The plan, as it stands, will see barriers placed at both the east and west ends of the waterfront trail to prevent vehicles from driving on it, and parking under the trees.

For many years, and many iterations of the Morrisburg Waterfront Committee, there have been plans to limit vehicles in the park. Most who drive their vehicles to park under the trees do so responsibly. But there are those who do not. Like those who drive on the pathway to find the best fishing hole, or park crosswise and block access to the path, or tear up the grass for fun when moving their car.

There are many good reasons to limit the vehicular access inside the park, the most important being the safety of the pedestrians who use it. Another is to protect the eco-space of the park; driving on grass doesn’t help it grow.

There are also many good reasons not to limit access, primarily accessibility. For those who have mobility issues, parking their car at the Docksyde or Beach parking lots, the walk is too much. For those who try to park at either lot on a busy day, good luck. Why should people who have mobility issues be restricted from accessing the park? They shouldn’t.

The larger issue of vehicle access should be looked at through the lens of fixing the parking issues at the Morrisburg waterfront once and for all. Many waterfront committees have tried and been unsuccessful in mitigating traffic and parking issues. The boat trailer parking at the west end creates a traffic free-for-all that discourages other users to park there. Overall there are too few spaces at either end for users.

As a compromise to restricting vehicular traffic, why not create a third parking area in the middle of the park? One that enables users to drive and park closer to the water? There is space between the ball diamonds, and road access from Cruickshank Way already in place that could be used.

We are fortunate in South Dundas to have a municipal waterfront and have control over it. Our neighbours to the east in South Stormont don’t enjoy either on their waterfront. We have a beautiful waterfront and everyone should be able to access it in whatever responsible method possible.

Taking away access, without providing an alternative plan to fix the entire problem is ham-fisted and unfair.

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