Lake Ontario Park Master Plan

Lake Ontario Park Master Plan, Kingston, OntarioIn June 2009, the City unveiled their concept design for the new look Lake Ontario Park. The initial, lofty plan incorporated elements such as a natural skating pond, bike, ski, canoe, and kayak rentals, and ample event space, which was supported by new amenities such as the naturalized amphitheatre.  The design received a lot of praise, while criticism was generated as a result of the absence of a dog park, and a city-run overnight camp ground.  Fast forward over a year later, and the City is unveiling their latest version of what Lake Ontario Park may resemble after renovations are completed in 2011.  While an off the leash area for Fido remains absent from the plan, overnight camping appears to be back on the table.  With all of the new additions in mind, this week’s poll question asks:

What is the most important element of the Lake Ontario Park plan?

  • Waterfront Paths (52%, 61 Votes)
  • Public Camping (24%, 28 Votes)
  • Something Else Entirely (15%, 17 Votes)
  • Beach Volleyball (7%, 8 Votes)
  • Boat Launch (3%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 117

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Admittedly it’s been year’s since I visited Lake Ontario Park, as my adventures there ended the year they took the modest amusement park rides away.  It was no Coney Island, but it definitely had it’s nostalgic charms. Revitalizing Lake Ontario Park is definitely a good idea, as this prime piece of real estate can be transformed into a focal point for year round, outdoor activities in Kingston.  Having said that, while I’m not a dog owner, I feel for those who want a place to take their puppies and let them run around and socialize.  While an off the leash park scored very low in the initial community survey, the same thing goes for the inclusion of a public camp site.  Have Kingstonians honestly warmed up to the revenue and unique experience afforded by event-supported camping? Are there simply not enough dog lovers out there to make an off the leash park a priority?

What are your thoughts on the latest Lake Ontario Park public plan?  What features would draw you in to use the space? Please drop off your comments below.  Otherwise, if you’ve got a vested interest in the future of the park, please note that there is a a public meeting scheduled for this evening at 7 pm at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

13 thoughts on “Lake Ontario Park Master Plan

  • November 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm
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    I would love to see camping brought back to LOP. This summer I did a 10 night camping trip to Gaspe, Quebec and back and was super happy to find a municipal campground only a 15min drive from Old Quebec in Quebec City. The campground was a fantastic place to stay and was a great alternative to the high priced hotels in the city. We need to bring this type of facility back to Kingston.

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    • November 1, 2010 at 8:26 pm
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      Totally agree. I'm glad the campground is back in the plan*. It looks okay, if a lot less ambitious and interesting than the previous iteration.

      *Mind you Kingstonians seem to have a different attitude to the Quebecois on using the camping facilities that are on their doorstep – the beautiful little National Park campgrounds on Cedar and Milton Islands were hardly ever anywhere near full when we visited them this summer.

      I am totally indifferent to facilities for dogs.

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      • November 2, 2010 at 12:58 pm
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        The camping is for "event use" like if there is a dog show the participants can stay, not to reopen a staffed campground all the time, right?

        "Retains two lanes of the semi serviced camping area for event use including the drive-thru RV sites.

        When the campground was dumped 5~ years ago it went with little fanfare due to the lack of and falling use. It was odd it got introduced into the election.

        I'd be pro dog park, but it probably makes more sense at this point to leave it out and see if the park gets used as intensely for events as anticipated. A fence for a dog park can always be added at any time.

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        • November 3, 2010 at 11:14 pm
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          Yes, the camping is only for events.

          If you look at the results of the survey that was put forward to the public in consultation for the renovations of Lake Ontario Park the question of camping (with tents), on a scale of 1 to 5, received a 4.00 from the respondents. The same rating as did the "Events area". In fact camping received a higher rating than Food services (3.77), Outdoor performance area (3.91), the splashpad (3.87). More than Ornamental gardens (3.12) and Improved public transit access (3.98).

          To say that camping was not a priority for the people who responded to the survey is false.

          In fact on the "preferred uses" question the only things that scored higher than tented camping were mostly non-structural: Pavilion, Improved Trails, Winter Uses, Children’s Playground, Picnic Area, Habitat Restoration, Swimming area (beach), Natural areas.

          Another question that was asked was whether "revenue generating uses should be considered in
          support of ongoing park operation.." to which 92.7% agreed. The former campground, and future over-night campgrounds would be revenue generating uses.

          In the "park improvement scenarios" question the "camping emphasis" scenario comes last – but I am 100% in favour of having camping in the park, but I certainly don't feel that it should be the *emphasis* of the park. There was a separation of 9% between the "winning" scenario and the "lowest scoring" scenario, which clearly doesn't label any one scenario clearly triumphant.

          Incidentally what the overall study shows is that the people who filled out the form didn't really understand all of the questions because the "Programmed Waterfront Emphasis" plan received the highest amount of support however the elements that would create such a plan – Short Term Docking, Launching Area, swimming instruction ("Day-use programs"), etc – scored amongst the lowest in the preferred elements section.

          The survey that was conducted was by no means an excellent survey as it was written and it certainly didn't show conclusive results regarding the residents of the city's wishes for the purpose for the park, and especially the camp ground.

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    • November 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm
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      Within Kingston we already have private Rideau Acres, not much further to the downtown then LOP.

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      • November 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm
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        The difference in that scenario being that Rideau Acres is not only privately owned, but it isn't on any public transportation routes. LOP, like the place I stayed in Quebec City is serviced by mass transit. I opted to drive into Quebec City as I was driving to multiple locations in and around the city when I was there, but the option of a bus/shuttle into the downtown core is nice for people from out of town who may not want to pay for parking in the city.

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  • November 1, 2010 at 6:01 pm
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    Fully agree. The price of hotels in any city can really kill the budget. If this aspect of the park makes it to implementation it will only serve to bring more spending customers to Kingston.

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  • November 2, 2010 at 7:28 am
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    Last night's meeting was pretty important for dog lovers who want an off the leash park at LOP. Lanie Hurdle, Director of Project Development reportedly said there is room for a dog park, but it will take a request from council to make it a part of the new plan. So much for the results of that public consultation. Now all dog lovers have to do is convince a Councillor to bring the motion forward.

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  • November 2, 2010 at 11:50 am
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    I'm happy to see another outdoor skating rink. I think the St. Lawrence student's will make use of that quite often.

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  • November 3, 2010 at 12:18 pm
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    I can only presume that there is no longer a multi-million dollar price tag, as it looks pretty damn similar to what is there now. Anyway, i think the design looks good – the place doesn't really need much, just a decent facelift would be all – and that is what this looks like.

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  • November 4, 2010 at 10:41 pm
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    I have lived minutes away and for years have overlooked LOP. For some reason on a rainy summer day this year I drove in there and was pleasantly surprised at what I found. It was a bit spooky seeing the boarded up structures. However it's a really beautiful chunk of land with some interesting changes in elevation and plenty of large trees. One of the highlights for me was the long meandering wooden staircase tucked away in the forest. This area really has a lot of potential to be Kingston's premiere city park space.

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  • November 18, 2010 at 9:33 am
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    As someone who uses this park everyday I feel it needs just a bit of refurbishing and maintenance. Look at the online poll the camping is higher up on the "wants" scale than the beach volleyball – however as it seems to be the case with our City, the wants arent taken into effect. Also for the little park known as Elevator Bay Park – what the heck – they are removing trees and planting others all in a row – a Maple tree grove no less – arent they hard to grow – also removing an existing walkway which appears in good shape is to be replaced with a walkway all along the ege of the park – this seems a terrible waste of money to me. Again, this park needs a few more trees and maintenance of those trees and thats it. It doesnt need rows and rows of trees that wont be maintained, nor does it need a fishing/lookout platform – save this money and put it somewhere else!

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  • November 18, 2010 at 12:54 pm
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    I had a lady that owns a consulting company come up to me at the candidate meeting at Portmouth Harbour and say that she was offended when i said we have to use less consultants. The present version is very different than the original version. Also you have the comments from Anne which I agree with 100 % . This is one reason why the general public believes that the consulants were a big waste of money.

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