BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WESTERN BEACHES
In 2005, $23 million was spent on a 600 M breakwall for the 2006 Club Crew World Dragonboat Championships. In 2009, Council approved the Western Beaches Master Plan, where use of the 4.4 km waterway from Ontario Place to the Humber River be primarily flat-water, an area that provides protected water for the quiet enjoyment of thousands of recreational users annually.
In July 2014 Council voted 38 to 0 for a motion that there be no more than 10 days of motorized competition annually, commencing 2016. The summer of 2016 was a bit of a disaster, as an 80 M dock was installed just east of the Ontario Place Gap obstructing free flow of flat-water traffic to Ontario Place, and not removed for 39 days, despite repeated requests. Motorized events took place for the 18 days of the CNE.
SO WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW?
The CNE wants to use the West Channel (from the Ontario Place Gap to Ontario Place) for 22 days of motorized use each summer.
Councillor Grimes (of Ward 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) wants to exempt the CNE from the 10 days permanently, which could mean 28 days annually of motorized water sports in the West Channel.
Councillor Gord Perks and Councillor Mike Layton both spoke against Grimes’ motion. Mayor Tory was originally in support of Grimes, but after discussion, decided that Parks, Forestry and Recreation should meet with the CNE and stakeholders to clarify just exactly what is intended, so that stakeholders could be consulted.
Next Monday, City of Toronto councillors will meet and vote either for or against Grimes’ motion.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
If you could take just 5 minutes to write to your councillor, please ask them to vote against Grimes’ motion next week at Council. The message being that the waterfront should be for the quiet enjoyment of all City residents, for flat-water use like originally intended and not a limited few with access to large motorboats.
We have attached a template below you can copy and paste (please feel free to add or modify any of it) and if you aren’t sure who your councillor would be, please find them here.
I am a constituent of yours, and a member of Sunnyside Paddling Club and a flat-water user of the Western Beaches Waterway (from Ontario Place to the Humber River).
During the TO 2015 Pan and ParaPan Am Games, waterski events were held in the West Channel from Ontario Place. As a legacy of the $5.5 M spent to upgrade the West Channel, but also in recognition of the $23 M spent in 2005 to build the Western Beaches Dragon-boat course, and the 2009 Western Beaches Masterplan focusing on flat-water use of the Western Beaches, Council voted in July 2014 to restrict motorized boat-towed events to a maximum of 10 days. Here is the 2014 Council resolution:http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2014.PE28.1
For the past two years, 2016, and 2017, this resolution was not enforced by Parks, Forestry and Recreation. At Executive Committee yesterday, Councillor Thompson, on behalf of Councillor Grimes moved to exempt the CNE from this 10-day restriction, for the 18 days of the Exhibition, so that the CNE could stage water-ski events. Here is the Executive Committee motion: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2017.EX27.7
There is a meeting this week where PFR has been asked to get agreement from the stakeholder groups and the CNE around the 2014 resolution and the proposed exemption for the CNE.
Regardless of the outcome of the meeting, I urge you to vote against the current, and any future, motion to alter, or exempt anyone from, the 10-day maximum restriction for motor-boat towed events on the Western Beaches Waterway/Channel and direct Parks, Forestry and Recreation to enforce the 2014 Council resolution. Access to flat-water in Toronto is at a premium. Your vote against any motion altering the motor-boat restrictions will maintain and honour the City’s commitment to open and inclusive access to this rare and prized venue for continued use by pleasure and recreational flat-water users, as a training site for national and international-level flat-water athletes, as a safe environment for the introduction of residents and visitors from a variety of backgrounds, means and communities, to healthy organized outdoor paddling, sailing and other water activities, and the quiet enjoyment of a non-motorized water environment by residents of Toronto and visitors to the City.