Planning underway to enhance Sarnia waterfront

Sarnia's waterfront as seen from Front St. at the foot of London Rd. ( File Photo by Briana Carnegie)

Planning is underway to enhance Sarnia’s waterfront.

Re: public Urbanism introduced its team to Sarnia council Monday, and highlighted its work to improve the “Nautical Mile” in St. Clair Shores, Michigan; at Belle Park in Kingston; and the Rockford City Market in Rockford, Illinois.

Councillor Mike Stark thinks the biggest opportunity and problem the city has is the integration of downtown commercial operations.

“The example I will give is a commercial developer is developing a condominium project on the former downtown mall [property],” said Stark. “That’s gone, but will be replaced with potentially, many, many customers, by way of residents that are in that building. They need to be able to use the businesses in the downtown, but also be able to use the riverfront as an extension of those businesses.”

Stark also encouraged the team to collaborate with the growth management group, which presented a report at the same meeting, that is planning for an expected population boost of 14,000 people over the next 30-years.

“We get all these balls up in the air and the jugglers seem to be doing independent work” said Stark. “I would hope that we get things all together so that we can work together towards a coordinated plan.”

Councillor Bill Dennis is excited for the waterfront’s future.

“It’s important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, Disney World wasn’t built all at once, they started with the Magic Kingdom and then they added Epcot and then they added the other theme parks too as well, so what you see in Orlando today started in the early 70s,” said Dennis.

Councillor Dave Boushy wants to make sure the costs are always front and centre.

“I’m very proud of what was presented to us today, but I think we’ve got to think about where the cost is coming from,” said Boushy. “Because, before you know it, the public [will] say, ‘these are good ideas, but when are you going to repave my road.'”

The consulting firm presented an aggressive timeline, which includes public consultation in the next few weeks, and a completed draft master plan by the end of October.