Multi-Million Dollar Park Coming Soon

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The current Louis St. parking lot, facing north from King street. Image via Peterborough Examiner.

Peterborough is a city of with many outdoor spots that are regularly frequented especially during the summer time. This includes parks, trails, waterfronts, and of course, the liftlock for which Peterborough is most known. Peterborough already boasts over twelve recreational parks, but plans for a new urban park downtown were approved by the city. The budget set for this project is said to be a whopping $5.5 million and will replace the current Louis St. Parking lot. Construction begins this November and is scheduled for completion in the “first quarter of 2019.” Plans for the new park may have just been put into motion, but talk about it can be traced back as far as 2014 when the Peterborough Examiner covered one councilman’s concerns about the plans. The long gap between first whispers of the City’s plans and now seems to have nursed several preparatory stages mandatory before any final plans or constructions could be executed.

Besides the $5.5 million park, the city has a larger $11.5 million plan for the renewal of both Louis Street and Charlotte Street, aptly titled the “Charlotte Street Renewal Project.” City Council is also accepting comments, questions, and ideas that the public is willing to contribute to the planning of the park and had one of such meetings on the 9th of May. No detailed designs have been released just yet for this phase of the renewal plans as it is still awaiting approval from the City Council. The Charlotte Street Renewal Plan also includes the “east side of George street from Simcoe to Charlotte”. Ideas are still being tossed back and forth in council, some of which include adding more street lighting, street furniture, art and trees.

The entire goal for the project is to make safer, more attractive streets in downtown Peterborough. The City admits in a document entitled “Charlotte Street East and George Street Streetscape Design Project” that “Charlotte Street east is in generally poor physical condition and lacks the features and amenities to facilitate the growth in street festivals and festivities. This section, along with the new Urban Park, is envisioned to be one of the City’s premier pedestrian promenade zones, employing a flexible street to optimize changing street programming.” Taking steps to beautify major streets especially one like George will undoubtedly go a long way to changing the atmosphere for the better and make downtown more vibrant.

In addition to the initial designs, AECOM was hired to conduct a “Stage 1 Archeological Assessment (AA) as part of the Conceptual Design for Charlotte Street and George Street project areas.” The design includes a large oval planned to be used as a farmer’s market in warmer weather and doubles as a skating rink in winter. There will also be a stage, geysers to help residents cool off in summer, and gardens. A new building will also be erected where the former Shish-kabob hut currently is. Interestingly, the city bought the Shish-kabob hut for $220,000 from Don Vasilliadis, a member of council. He declared a conflict of interest, thereby excluding himself from the process of voting for or against the proposed plan.

Another council member, Bob Hall, however, was the only member to contest the proposed plan. He expressed an admiration of the plans, but did not agree with where the funding was being dedicated. His argument, was to turn it into a well-known and “unique feature” like the river. Unfortunately, his was the unpopular opinion. As for the rest of the funding, plans of remodeling and revamping are also projected to include extensive work between Aylmer and Water street. As for the building to be erected in the hut’s place, it is expected to house a Zamboni, washrooms, offer office space for the park attendant and include some storage space.

“The renewal of Charlotte Street between Aylmer Street and Water Street is part of the Urban Park at Louis Street Project and is a key strategy of the Central Area Master Plan. The strategy seeks to create a permanent public gathering place in the Downtown for the benefit of the entire community.”

The city is currently searching for a private firm to oversee the building construction.