MBL board discusses promenade options to 'showcase' use of the property

·4 min read

Midland residents could soon taste the promenade feel that the Midland Bay Landing Development Corporation (MBLDC) group believes is representative of how accessible the waterfront property will be eventually.

The options were discussed at a recent board meeting as chair Bill Kernohan told the rest of the board the working group had decided it would be beneficial to move forward with interim use along the coal dock.

"We're talking about putting the promenade mockup along the coal docks," he said. "This now is great assistance to the town that is anticipating cruise ships in 2022. This is a huge opportunity to showcase the promenade boardwalk.

"It's about 100 metres of the boardwalk, subject to cost, to show off the promenade, which consists of a wide pedestrian walkway, landscaping, lighting, benches, some picnic tables and a multi-use trail."

Where no designs or costs have yet been finalized, Kernohan said, the group has been working with a designer, who has done a lot of work in Thunder Bay, Burlington and Port Credit.

"We want to begin to construct this as soon as it's practical," he said, adding the area will also include information boards with images of what the overall look and feel of the development could be. As well, Kernohan said, the boardwalk isn't being built as a temporary throwaway; it will be permanent.

Board member Teena Fazio thought that would be a good idea.

"It will be great to showcase the promenade for the residents, especially those who are less enthusiastic about what they understand Midland Bay Landing to be all about," she said. "I'd say two thumbs up."

David Denault, chief administrative officer, asked how the view from that spot will be impeded by the cruise ships the town anticipates will begin visiting the area next year.

"The whole coal dock is about 800 ft long," said Kernohan. "The cruise ships will (only) take up part of the wall and visibility will still be there. There will be views of the bay, for sure, from here while the cruise ship is there."

Deputy Mayor Mike Ross thought cruise boats coming in will be a huge attraction for those who flock to the waterfront to watch the big ships.

"With that said, is there any thought or budget money to clean up the other part of the land?" he asked. "The rest of it is a little rough, so it would be nice to clear a few of the trees and clean up some of the garbage."

Kernohan said he wasn't sure how much money was in the budget for the whole project. He suggested that perhaps the town's public works department and MBLDC could pool resources to address the situation.

"I would point out that in the long-term master plan, this is not a parking lot, it's a green park," said Kernohan. "I would question how much we want to spend fixing it up only to tear it out later."

Zach Douglas, another board member, wanted to know what stage the engineering, design and costing were at and when work on the promenade could begin.

"We would like to start as soon as practically possible," said Kernohan. "How and when is an ongoing conversation."

Douglas also wanted to know what would be the plan if the group were short on funds.

"The idea is that anticipating if we have a budget problem, we will build about 75 metres of it instead of 100 metres," said Kernohan. "We want to show enough that makes sense, but we don't want to cut the quality of the demonstration area."

During the meeting, the group also touched upon the town's water and wastewater capacity for the eventual MBLDC build.

Kernohan said, he had gathered from the town's recent water and wastewater master plans that there is capacity for MBL in both cases.

Andy Campbell, executive director, environment and infrastructure, confirmed there is sufficient water wastewater capacity.

"For wastewater, we need to consider if we need a new pumping station or not because of the elevation of the site," he added.

Midland CFO Michael Jermey presented the group's year-end financials, which showed unspent funds of $150,000.

"You could ask council for the unspent $150,000 to be reallocated to MBL," he suggested.

The total 2021 approved operating budget for MBLDC is $276,000, with $425,000 approved in capital funds.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com