Whoever said ‘ Your words mean nothing when your actions are the complete opposite’ could have easily been referring to the ongoing saga regarding the former Fairview Golf Course (FFGC) property in north St. Catharines. This storyline involves a vast, wonderful greenspace providing significant relief in our battle against climate change that has become a revolving ball in the world of municipal politics.
As most of us know north St. Catharines was once almost all farmland, but like so many other cities in southern Ontario, those lands gave way to municipal growth. Suburbia, with all of its paved roads, oversized apartments and strip malls became the norm. And with it available greenspace, and more importantly naturalized open spaces, went from predominant to sparse. Although still prized these areas have been squeezed into pre-ordained spaces that dictate our recreational activities. Play equipment, blacktop basketball or tennis, maybe some soccer or baseball. And so those loosely designed, basically untouched spaces became special. Eco-parks, naturalized open spaces, passive greenspace, trees and birds, dirt paths, streams,… you get it. And the FFGC property, a vast open greenspace in the heart of the City, was one of these prized spaces.
However in spring of 2021 a roadway linking the Fairview Mall to Scott St. through the FFGC property was included in the City’s TMP. The importance of the site as a major heat sink, an open, passive greenspace and a natural barrier for nearby residents was not lost on local environmentalists. An engagement by concerned citizens prompted City Council to remove the roadway from the plan essentially saving the property from certain environmental destruction. Certainly not a landmark decision, but a step in the right direction and an important indication that Council was prepared to be a leader in climate change mitigation. Or so we thought. Within months of that seemingly important decision survey stakes appeared throughout the FFGC property for the construction of an asphalt pathway. Needless to say those who rallied to save the park
were surprised, shocked, disappointed, concerned and felt somewhat betrayed. The pathway construction transpired without any public input and was not part of any park master plan. Just the asphalt tentacles of the mall spreading through the park. In essence an engineered heat cable piercing its heart. And as a point of emphasis not just an ordinary pathway but a 10’ wide Paul Bunyan pathway like no other in our fair City.
So the question begs where should we turn? Should we be angry with Council or with City staff? Probably not. There’s no solution there. Anger and confrontation won’t get us anywhere.
At the end of the day controlling climate change can only be achieved by everyone pulling in the same direction.
The short answer, sadly, is shame on us for trusting the politicians. We should have known better.
Excavation of the pathway at the former Fairview Golf Course property.