Rotary Frenchman’s Bay West Park-Pickering

During the first phase of Rotary Frenchman’s Bay West Park’s reconstruction, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and Pickering removed approximately 160 trees along Beachpoint Promenade. Many dangerous and invasive species, including Manitoba maples, Buckthorns and Tree of Heavens, were removed. Pickering’s senior coordinator of landscape and park development, Arnold Mostert, said the tree will rot over time and may pose a risk to residents.

Some native trees were going to be removed as well, making residents upset. The removal was necessary for road widening and lay-by parking along Beachpoint Promenade. For several restoration projects by TRCA, the TRCA chipped the branches and understorey vegetation as well as collected large logs for reusing. The trees were replaced six months later.

Richard Holborn, Pickering’s director of engineering services, said the increase in size was due to public concerns. Nine of the proposed trees were substituted for large calliper trees brought in by tree spade. Mostert said some of the trees reach 30 feet in height.

The work was recently inspected by Ward 1 councillor Maurice Brenner, who said the mature trees there are “just phenomenal.” He said at last month’s council meeting “You can go down there and it already looks like the land has been reforested.” There are 150 new deciduous and coniferous trees included in the replanting, including nine large-calibre spaded trees. Mostert said that the planting of the trees, shrubs and perennials has now been completed. Approximately 800 new shrubs and 10,000 plants were planted.

Approximately $2 million will be spent in the first phase of the park’s reconstruction. As part of the project, Holborn said, the beachside promenade will be rebuilt to the first parking lot and lay-by parking, as well as a small recreational area for picnics, a small information kiosk, interpretive signage, and a turn-around circle. It is anticipated that Rotary Frenchman’s Bay West Park will reopen in the coming weeks.

Grant funding is helping offset the cost. A charitable organization with a mission to develop a national movement of active, informed, and engaged people who seek to ensure that every community can swim, drink, and fish is being supported. They contacted us a while back after learning about our project, said Mostert. Through the Weston family Swim Drink Fish Great Lakes Challenge, registered charity Swim Drink Fish Canada provided funding towards the Rotary Frenchman’s Bay West Park reconstruction project.

This challenge is an invitation to Ontarians to make the Great Lakes fishable, swimmable, and drinkable. W. Garfield Weston Foundation is providing the grant, which can be worth up to $200,000. They will be used to plant native trees and shrubs worth $140,000, restore and protect shorelines worth $50,000, and establish a community-based stewardship program worth $10,000.

A Pickering resident, David Steele has been the chair of the Pickering Citizens Task Force developing a comprehensive citizens’ vision of the waterfront since 1997. According to him, he can only give a fair analysis of a park once phases 1, 2, and 3 are completed, and for phase one, until he has walked through the park on foot since the park was still in construction at the time of the interview.

Nevertheless, he said the mature native trees that were planted should be beneficial to the environment, and hopefully, a variety of birds will return.

He added that the shoreline stabilization project around Pickering, which is scheduled to start in 2019, is a very important element of this project, as it provides a barrier-free access point for lakeside paddling and swimming for children and parents. He said Phase Two would be critical because the community will reject motorized boats as a whole.

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