Individuals look after their own property, but it’s the City’s responsibility to maintain municipal land. There is evidence to suggest that this is not occurring at Beaumaris Lake. People pay good money in municipal taxes. Where is this money going?
Although Beaumaris Lake is still beautiful, Council has failed the residents who use it. Just because people continue to go there does not mean that they approve of its condition. It is in a substandard state. I hate to ask the question, but would this be tolerated on the south side?
The lake sometimes produces an unpleasant smell, and its infrastructure is crumbling. As a result, the users of the lake have mixed impressions. When the lake is not respected, it is more likely that it will further deteriorate. According to the ‘Broken Windows’ sociological theory, if the area is kept clean and tidy, residents will respect it more. You don’t litter when there is no other litter on the ground, for example. For this reason, graffiti should be removed within 48 hours of it being reported. It discourages more vandalism.
Among the issues at the lake, I present a feasible 3-point plan to fix the situation.
Lake vs Stormwater Management Facility
Beaumaris Lake is technically a stormwater management facility (public utility), but that should not solely define how it is used or maintained. While its primary purpose is to prevent flooding in nearby homes, it could be enhanced so that it acts and behaves like a lake (much like Lake Summerside on the south side). Let us have a north-side Lake Summerside or a little taste of Hawrelak Park where we live. Yes? No?
(June update: I am hearing ‘no’ loud and clear from people I have consulted. The people just want the infrastructure fixed)
The Engineering Report
Stantec completed a report on the “facility.” The report makes recommendations, but it is hard to tell if the City has acted on any of these items. I believe Council is using the would-be money for this project on something else that is completely out of touch with what the residents of Ward 3 want. Public art off the Whitemud, anyone?
The problem with the engineering report is that it is an engineering report. It is not user-friendly. It seeks to solve an engineering problem, and so the scope is so narrow that it fails to honestly look at what the users of the lake actually want. While the report has a small section on community engagement, the recommendations don’t follow through. The people surveyed identify the odour issues and suggest that the paths and lighting could be improved.
The recommendations in the report, except for this one questionable and wordy statement, do not address community concerns:
“Rehabilitation of components for landscape and community amenity asset category is required at a total cost of $5.51 million dollars. It is recommended that as part of the conceptual design for these components, an optional analysis be completed in consultation with the public to see if the overall upgrade cost can be reduced.”
This statement, filled with technical jargon, is essentially providing City Council with a scapegoat: We did not bother to look into the requested amenities in detail because you can just tell the people that their needs are too expensive…
Further, I take issue with the way the costs are tabulated in the ‘Maintenance, Rehabilitation and/or Replacement Plan’ section of the report. I believe that the costs have ballooned, and I also feel that we should look at more than ‘replacement.’ Perhaps features could be modernized?
Back to the report: So why did the engineers even bother to ask people what they wanted? And why are our current City Councilors okay with this lackluster report? Reading between the lines, I can see that Council has presented the report with some pride; as in, “See, we paid for a report! Give us a few more years to think about it. We did the bare minimum. Congratulate us!”
To me, this is not good enough.
I am an urban planner. I have a master’s degree in planning, and I have worked professionally as such in Edmonton for the past decade. I am the Treasurer of the Alberta Professional Planners Institute, and so I know a thing or two about working with engineers. Stormwater management is a consideration in almost all projects that I work on.
I also know a thing or two about community building.
I love engineers and I admire their skills, but sometimes they need to be reminded to think outside the box and factor in value-added extras such as the opinions of people.
What Could be Done: 3-Point Plan
Community buy-in and input is the most important thing prior to making a change, and so the following is only an example: While maintaining the integrity of the stormwater management component of the lake, we could establish:
- A porous aquatic plant zone should be created to filter and create an ecosystem that controls odour. In addition to managing the smell, this would also help naturalize the lake, which would further break down microscopic pollutants.
- A mechanical feature should move water to prevent stagnation, further eliminating odours. This also would aerate the water, allowing good bacteria to thrive. The most appealing water-moving system would be a small ornamental fountain in the middle of the lake. It would also provide pleasant water rippling sounds and ensure that pollutants make it into the porous ecosystem filter zone, as mentioned in Point 1. This system would likely have to be extended underwater via a perforated hose.
- The banks of the lake already have some riparian plant species, such as bulrushes, but closer to the walking path there should be fragrant hedges, bushes, and trees to create a scent-pleasing linear botanical garden. A landscape architect (not an engineer) should produce recommendations to increase the natural and visual appeals of the lake while factoring in safety and function.
That’s it. Those are the three points, and they would be relatively inexpensive. I am not even going to mention that Council should repair the infrastructure, as that is obvious.
If I am elected to Ward 3, I will consult with the community. If most stakeholders approve of this idea, I will seek to implement it immediately. But if the local residents have a different vision for this amenity, then those voices should be heard. I am open to hearing all voices. I have already met with several stakeholders and I can appreciate that there may be varying opinions.
Once we get the lake clean, I will see if people want to explore the idea of using a portion of it recreationally for light activities such as paddle boating. At first glance, I support this as one of the themes of my campaign is to provide more family-friendly activities, and I think it would be great to get the most out of this lake. It could be the case that half the lake remains in a natural state, and the other half is programmed for active use.
When we have beautiful community amenities, we get inexpensive date nights, picnics, and family outings. When you pay a lot of taxes, it is nice to see where the money goes. I hope this will encourage north siders to turn their TVs off and spend quality time with friends and family.
Worried about mischief at night? How about a regular police patrol that will kick-out those up to no good, and the speedy removal of graffiti.
If you live in Ward 3, you can demand more. Vote for change. Vote ‘Jon D for Ward 3’ on October 16.
Also, if you believe in this simple 3-Point Plan, please tell a friend. Share on social media and let’s act to make positive change.
I need your help, as I cannot do this alone.
North Side Journal
Now for something fun: a cartoon and a link to a YouTube video that did on the lake. Click here for the video.