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Beach Park Project Concerns Grow

Questions arise over costs, timing, transparency and more



Local residents have been voicing a variety of concerns about the Lions Bay Beach Park (LBBP) project recently, at council meetings, in calls to The Watershed, and online.


Prior to the closed portion of Tuesday's council meeting, these included concerns about burgeoning costs, the timing of the project and the transparency with which the project has been handled.


Speaking in the public participation element of the meeting, former councillor Fred Bain and his wife Deirdre stood up together to express concern about the lack of clarity regarding specifics of the project, as well as the timing.


"If somebody asked me what was going on with the beach park, I would have to say I have no idea," said Fred, adding that the scope of the project seems too large for what is needed.


"And it's only two and a half months to July 1," said Deirdre, noting that construction means the beach park will be unavailable to residents of Lions Bay. "I thought construction would have started a long time ago."


She also pointed out that Council has spoken of the importance of the jetty to protect the beach park. "And yet you've removed it from the grant. I've heard the cost is $190,000. It's concerning to me that we don't have money to finance it." She added that the proposed $50,000 cost for a new floating dock also wouldn't be covered by the grant.


Former councillor Norm Barmeier, who joined the meeting online, said that while he was looking forward to the completion of the project, he too was seeking clarity regarding the timing. "I was curious about how construction would be managed during the summer, and if the beach would be closed or have limited access for residents."


When Diedre Bain asked if council was planning to make their plans public, Mayor Ken Berry replied that when council approves a message, they will release it to the community.


Councillor Marcus Reuter agreed with Bain, saying he feels that promised consultation hasn't happened, and "the community likely doesn't have adequate information" as to plans for the project.


Online, resident Carmen Leeson echoed concerns about delays to the project. "I understood that the plan was to open up the ground in January, and here we are in March." He added that he couldn't see the project being completed for July 1, regardless of the promises that had been made.


Leeson was also concerned about communication with residents, and suggested that since the start time had been so delayed already, moving the construction dates back to ensure the beach would be open to the public this summer should be an option.


In response to concerns about project communications, Berry said that "at least half a dozen updates" have been produced to inform residents of the progress of the project, but since Council has been unable to agree to the wording, none of these has been released. Both Councillors Reuter and Abbott expressed disagreement with this statement.


Leeson said he's unclear what the hold-ups are, and suggested that sharing progress reports might result in public feedback, which could help Council find a resolution.


Resident Penny Nelson called in to say she was a member of one of the original working groups, and her concern is that there has been no communication to residents regarding the increasing costs of the project.


Citing the increases from originally-budgeted costs, she said "this is a prime example of a project that seems to be overrunning its budget, and as a taxpayer, I think we need to know what it's going to cost us."


Nelson echoed the call for a delay to the project, to allow more time for a closer look at the costs and why they are going so high.


In addition to the concerns expressed at the Tuesday meeting, several residents who contacted The Watershed this week pointed to the proposed timeline of the project. The posted bid listing specifies a 14-week construction window. For the job to be completed by the proposed Canada Day date, construction would need to begin this coming week, with no margin of error for delays.


Questions also remain about whether the changing scope of the project will impact the delivery of the grant. The province's press release from August, 2021 said the revitalization project would replace a number of structures "to improve accessibility and the quality of community infrastructure." These included a new washroom, playground structures, a new boat storage rack, a rehabilitated jetty and accessible pathways to the beach and covered picnic areas. The jetty and boat storage rack have both since been removed from the project.


Since the meeting, a petition has been circulating among residents via email, calling for "a return to fiscal prudence" with regard to the LBBP and citing projected overruns from the latest report (found HERE, beginning on page 60 of the February 20 council meeting agenda).


The next regular council meeting is scheduled for March 19 at 6 p.m.


Have thoughts to share? Leave your comments below, or email us at editor@lionsbaywatershed.ca







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If I understand correctly, we've lost the LB Beach Park Committee as per the Village Update today... Such a shame - a big thank you to those who dedicated countless hours on the committee. I appreciate your efforts.

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