The beach is the main attraction along with the grassy hill which public feedback shows should be left clear for tobogganing. The 65-car parking lot dominates the site and makes much of park under-used. The Skead Mill ruins are blocked by invasive plants which is the case all along the steep slope up to the sand beach and much of the rocky beach is under-water part of the year. The multi-use path is close to the parkway and collisions are reported between cyclists and pedestrians particularly in the circled area. The pedestrian path is closer to the river and this is also the route of the winter trail.
Proposed landscape design
Looking at the design, a key goal is to animate the park. The beach currently functions well and adding new obstacles, such as umbrellas, would interfere with sand grooming, so, we left the beach and the grassy hill as is. However, removing the parking lot and driveway liberates the park area on the other side of the pavilion, opening-up that area for new park amenities, starting with 3 lookouts. We are also planning a central lawn and picnic area and an area for sports such as volleyball courts.
Another goal is to improve circulation, starting with separating cyclists and pedestrians. The path near the parkway will be for cyclists, ensuring that they do not cross paths with vehicles. Cyclists will enter a zone where they cross paths with multiple pedestrian routes, where they will be signaled to yield to pedestrians. The route down to the beach will be separated and pedestrians can continue along the beach edge and connect with an existing path at the right. Between the patios of the café and the restaurant, we are exploring universally accessible options. The path continues from the upper patio along the top of the slope and connects with an existing path at the left. The rocky beach level will be left as is, with no formal pathway, because it is resilient to water flows, flooding and ice.
Vehicular access on the Westboro Beach side of the parkway will be limited to 4 universally accessible spots and a drop-off, waste bin storage and pick-up with visual screening from the parkway and emergency access to the pavilion. There will be a 91-car parking lot on the other side of the parkway and a signalized intersection connecting the two sides.
Heading down to the beach, a planted strip will clearly define the separate routes for pedestrians and cyclists and help keep sand off the cycling path. There will be a beach node boardwalk with benches where multiple paths converge. The design integrates almost all existing trees, including the pines near the parkway and the willows by the pavilion.
To enhance public enjoyment of the Skead Mill ruins, we will replace invasive plants with low native plants that will make the ruins visible and we will create routes to the rocky beach. Above the ruins there will be a wood deck with seating and interpretation panels about Skead Mill. An adjacent berm will enhance views to the river as well as integrating a slide and a hand pump where kids can pump water down a log chute.
Another lookout will be nestled into the existing contours, making this a nice place to enjoy sunsets. Stone layers will be added, allowing seating and shoreline access. All along that slope, invasive shrubs will be replaced with native plants that enable views to the river. The other side of the path will feature an indigenous plant garden.
A third lookout at the upper patio will integrate an interpretation panel about the pavilions and the beach.
In winter, this area will be part of the groomed winter trail. There will be a groomed track to a ski rack by the restaurant door and another by the public lobby and washrooms.