Photo: Geoff Ortiz
Lighthouse surf break at Bluffers Park Toronto is in imminent danger of being destroyed forever. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) will be seeking approval from government bodies (City Council) as early as September 2017 to approve coastal development in Scarborough, including the development of the Western segment of the Bluffers Park.
As surfers, SUPers and residents, we support waterfront redevelopment for the enjoyment and safety of everyone. However, the proposed changes to the Western Segment of the Scarborough Waterfront Project will destroy the most unique, high quality SW surf break in the City of Toronto which we call Lighthouse. This piece of the development will also stand to eliminate the SW swell in the Bluffers East Main Beach which is often surfed by the growing numbers of beginner surfers and SUP enthusiasts.
On Thursday, June 15th, 2017 Robin Pacquing, Jeff Green and Nadia Baer met with the TRCA. This was the second meeting with the TRCA since the surf community became aware of the impact of the Scarborough Waterfront Project on the Lighthouse surf break in April 2017.
Present from the TRCA on June 15th were Nancy Gaffney, TRCA Waterfront Specialist, Milo Sturm, Coastal Consultant, (Coastal Engineer from Shoreplan Engineering Limited, www.shoreplan.com), and Anneliese Grieve, TRCA Project Team.
This is a summary of our understanding from those discussions:
1) The primary purpose of the Scarborough Waterfront Project is to create a path/road on the east side of the bluffs leading up and out of the current Scarborough Bluffs beach area. There are other named goals as well as impact goals based on the current design of this project, but it appears that the major goal is to ultimately create a safe path/road connecting the east side of the main Scarborough beach to the rock outcroppings to the east of the Scarborough Bluffs. If you look up the original design proposals (available online http://www.trca.on.ca/dotAsset/217960.pdf), not all proposals required the node to be built on the Lighthouse surf break. Therefore, the destruction of Lighthouse is not absolutely necessary.
2) The TRCA acknowledged that some surfers reached out to their organization about this project early on, however, the TRCA failed to include the surf community as a stakeholder. One of the major reasons for not accommodating our concerns has been because we are “too late” in our involvement with the design process. This means that there was a clear failure in the project design process and related public consultation process, and, to us, this is justification for taking another look at the design.
3) The TRCA has made recent efforts to both reduce the size and change the shape of the node. However, after being shown the “modified node” design, we explained that this “node” will still destroy the current Lighthouse surf break. The coastal engineer, Milo, agreed with our assessment and confirmed that the “modified node” is still intended to create a wave calming effect and that the current waves with their particular unique form/shape at Lighthouse would cease to exist upon construction. The coastal engineer added that he hoped that new waves would form again after the sand filled in over time, but, as he is not a surfer and has no experience with surfing waves could not be sure whether these waves would be satisfactory for surfing. He also acknowledged that thus far, coastal engineers have not been able to purposely design good “surfing waves” anywhere.
4) The TRCA continues to tell us that they would like to address our concerns, but that their organization cannot, at this time in the design process, eliminate the development of the “node.” As we asked about the overall process, the TRCA did indicate that others – which we took to mean city councillors, MPPs, etc. – would be able to help us have a voice.
1) Protecting Lighthouse, even at this stage of the design process is possible.
2) We need to continue to reach out to the surf community and many other allies through our petition and through other forms of outreach throughout the summer
3) We need to bring large numbers of the surf community and our allies to all related events, including the upcoming Public Consultation Meeting on Wednesday, June 28th; and continue to hold our own events, as necessary.
1) Go to the TRCA’s “Public Consultation Meeting #3” on June 28th, 2017. Big turnout at this meeting is critical in order for our voices to be heard! This is the final public consultation meeting and our presence is critical if we are serious about saving Lighthouse.
The TRCA’s Public Consultation Meeting is on
Wednesday, June 28th, 2017
at Carmen Newman High School – 100 Brimley Rd, Scarborough
7pm – 9pm
Notes for attending the Public Consultation Meeting:
a) The event begins with an “open house” 3:30pm, and then a “presentation” at 7pm, followed by a “panel discussion” at 7:30pm and then “Q&A” at 8:30pm – we recommend that folks arrive by 7pm if possible and ideally stay until the end.
b) We don’t all need to speak at the event, but having our presence known and understood is very important.
c) We do not want to be disruptive, but instead want to be clear that we are a big group of stakeholders who are here because we want to be included in the design process and who believe that waterfront development projects need to be done responsibly and with a full understanding of the current use of the waterfront.
d) We will try and organize a way to show who we are – look for us when you arrive!
2) Contact your city councillor and/or MPP and schedule a meeting to discuss this issue. At this point it looks like the earliest votes for approval from city council will be in September. If the project is approved this fall, the project would need funding primarily from the Province, so informing you MPPs about this project now would also be helpful. Please contact us directly or at savelighthouseTO@gmail.com and we will be glad to join you in your meeting or organize someone to join you in your meeting with your City Councillor or other representative.
If you have other suggestions or ways in which you would like to help – please contact us at savelighthouseTO@gmail.com or contact us directly.
Please feel free to download this hard copy of the petition.
Please feel free to download this hard copy of the petition and get signatures from family, friends and allies.
Once completed scan and email to SaveLighthouseTO@gmail.com
You can drop signed copies of the petition off at Surf Ontario or Surf the Greats.
Proposed change to Lighthouse