Rally to keep riverfront “clean and green”

Rally for Our Riverfront asks council to reconsider the construction of a building that could impede the view of the riverfront, September 3, 2021. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

A group of concerned citizens are hoping to stop planned development on the city’s waterfront.

“The uninterrupted natural view of the river has been the vision of this whole parkland development. Millions of dollars, many many volunteers have gone into that vision, clean and green,” said Rally for Our Riverfront Organizer Mike Cardinal.

The group would like the city to reconsider plans to build beacons along the waterfront which may obstruct the view.

“The city if planning not just this one but several other beacons and other buildings that without consultation for the people are going to be blocking our natural view of the river,” said Cardinal.

The beacon project is part of the over 20 year old Central Riverfront Implementation Plan. It has undergone several rounds of consultation and each beacon needs further approval before moving forward.

The Celestial Beacon, designed to house the refurbished streetcar currently owned by the city, would rise about seven feet above the riverfront embankment. The $7-million project was approved by city council in June 2020.

In order to build the enclosure as designed, the city approved a minor variance of the current bylaw. Cardinal appealed the decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and the case was heard in May.

In July, the tribunal found that the variance did not meet any of the statutory tests and “is particularly not desirable or appropriate for the development of the subject lands or site.”

Now, to erect the building the city would need to change the original bylaw that prohibits the construction of any buildings that rise about the current embankment.

Cardinal and other residents have launched the Rally for Our Riverfront movement to encourage council to keep the uninterrupted view of the riverfront.

Cardinal said he is not against the overall beacon project he’s just against constructing tall buildings that would obstruct the view.

“Keep them tucked into the embankment. Now to do that, we know now it needs an Indigenous consultation and an archeological budget because they are going to find stuff here,” said Cardinal.

Cardinal is calling on residents to join his movement and sign the petition asking council to keep the riverfront “clean and green.”