$50M Sarnia, Ont. waterfront redevelopment project creates 'destination hotspot': Mayor
A $50-million project designed to turn Sarnia’s waterfront into a destination tourist attraction has strong initial support.
Sarnia city councillors unanimously voted to send a 147-page master plan on to to budget deliberations.
The detailed report shows a multi-stage 15-year project to redevelop Sarnia’s waterfront abutting the downtown.
It includes a wish list of 34 enhancements, including a waterfront promenade, a market building, a harbour building and a floating boardwalk.
All will be publicly accessible and completed in three distinct areas, complementing existing features created by the project.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley says the goal is to turn the waterfront into a space utilized by locals and a destination for visitors.
“I see it no different as what you see with Harbourfront in Toronto and what you used to see with Ontario Place. People identify it and they go there and that’s what we want to see. We want to see that mixed-use.”
An artist concept of a new market building along the waterfront in Sarnia, Ont. (Source: City of Sarnia)
Sarnia Councillor Brian White gave the highest praise to the project calling it, “...probably one of the most brilliant documents I’ve read…from an environmental standpoint, from an engineering standpoint, a revenue generation standpoint and a focus on active transportation.”
But Bradley concedes the $50-million price tag is not achievable solely through public dollars.
So, in the hopes of not seeing the proposal sputter, as London’s Back to the River Project at the forks of the Thames did, he’s pleased the report has a public and private sector component to help pay for it.
“And, there is linkage now, but not to the degree there should be, so I see that private sector involvement as being a big part of that.”
The report clearly identifies four parcels of city-owned land adjacent or nearby the waterfront that planners contend could be sold to build residential towers with commercial space on the mezzanine.
Bradley says services and amenities are the keys to making the waterfront a year-round attraction.
An artist conception of a winter skating loop around the waterfront in Sarnia, Ont. (Source: City of Sarnia)
To that point, a major project includes the construction of a skating trail along the waterfront during the winter months.
With all the cards in place, and seemingly a path to paying for a new look waterfront, Bradley says it's crucial council support remains solid into the future.
“The obligation will be on every mayor and council to move it one step forward over these next 15 years. I think that’s going to happen.”
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