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Most yay, some nay during Penetanguishene town dock master plan update

Some on council say planners ‘might need a refresher course’ on accessibility, and ‘no way that boat turning will work’ in updated town dock draft

Accessibility considerations and parking logistics were the most vocal concerns raised by a council who mostly gave high praise to the updated Penetanguishene dock plan.

A presentation of the fall study update for Penetanguishene’s Town Dock Secondary Plan was given to council by Sajecki Planning at a recent committee of the whole meeting.

Special consideration was given by the planners to concerns raised by council and members of the public, during the initial presentation earlier in the year that had come under fire for numerous reasons.

Dylan Dewsbury, senior planner with Sajecki Planning, provided the update which looked at input from the earlier council presentation, technical advisory committee, and additional parking and survey data obtained over the summer months.

“Over the summer, town staff have conducted some parking counts,” Dewsbury stated, focusing on the 123 identified parking spaces of the town dock; Saturday afternoons and Sundays as a whole counted highest for average usage.

Likewise in the boat launch area close to the sewage treatment plant, parking during Saturday afternoons averaged the highest counts with overall weekend use also in high demand. Parking between Beck Blvd. and Brock Street on Main Street was also assessed due to its walkable proximity; the determination was that those spots were underutilized.

“We can say that there were 345 season passes sold,” Dewsbury continued, “and this does not include the 113 parking spaces given to those who rent slips at the docks. Those two together far outweigh the actual number of parking spots at the town dock; the highest count at the boat launch was 120.”

A summer survey asked participants to respond through Connect Penetanguishene and answer for both the current-to-five-year Phase 1 and the five-to-ten-year Phase 2 aspects of the plan. The public response aligned closely with concerns and praise given by council.

Likes for Phase 1 included: ample parking; retained boat launch; and the town dock upgrade limiting changes. Phase 2 likes were: the waterfront promenade and boardwalk proposals, and the spacious view.

Dislikes for Phase 1 were: a preference for uses other than greenspace given the location’s proximity to nearby park area; and the preference for more formal parking. Phase 2 dislikes included: a strong concern from respondents to the amount of parking; and a large preference in retaining the boat launch.

Dewsbury noted that the parking could be flexible in accommodating the town dock’s various uses in times of high and low demand.

A short video and several slides were also shown, which provided a speculative view of what the final project could look like upon completion.

Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau praised Sajecki Planning for taking earlier feedback into consideration for the updated presentation, and gave general praise for most of what was shown.

“It looks great; I love the promenade,” Dubeau expressed. “I don’t know if I’ll see that in my lifetime, but it certainly would be a wonderful thing to have down at our town dock.”

Coun. Debbie Levy shared that the presentation was an improvement on its predecessor, but punctuated one necessity she saw as lacking in any of what was said.

“I’m not seeing accessible parking for Dock Lunch, for our cruise boat, or for any disabled boaters that need accessibility,” Levy noted. “I’d like you to address the accessibility issue in particular, and the access for the cruise boat and Georgian Queen to load and unload supplies.”

David Sajecki, partner and co-founder of Sajecki Planning, accepted the comment to say that those concerns would be explored further with town staff. That wasn’t enough to satisfy Levy, however.

“I think you might need a refresher course on what actual accessibility requires,” Levy prompted. “It can’t be from your proposed parking lot, the closest spaces; it has to be a little bit better than that for people with disabilities.”

Coun. Dan LaRose held great disapproval over the presented master plan, particularly over the logistics of manoeuvring boats with trailers in the first and second phase proposals.

“When you look at the configuration,” said LaRose, referring to the Phase 1 draft image, “if you’ve ever driven a boat with a trailer, there’s no way that will work. There’s no consideration -- we have a new boat building company in Penetang, they’ve been bringing their new boats down to the town dock; most of these boats are between 40 and 50 feet long. You’d never turn one of those boats down in there, let alone giving them parking room.

“My next problem is, as you show in the short term plan, of cutting the truck and trailer parking from 46, knowing that on our first weekend of the year the average is 120 on the weekend.

“So who’s going to stand down there and tell 70 customers that have already bought and paid for their slip, bought their parking passes, say ‘hey guys, it’s not going to happen today’,” LaRose added.

Coun. Jill St. Amant and Jessica Klug both gave praise to the presentation, with Klug adding that the town dock would be intended to draw people driving to use the tourist hub.

In conclusion, planning and community development director Andrea Betty announced that the council and public would have an opportunity to provide additional feedback. Further public consultation on the draft is anticipated including a public meeting tentatively being aimed for January.

Information on the presentation can be found on the Town Dock Secondary Plan and Master Plan Survey page of the Connect Penetanguishene website.

Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.

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Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
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