Hawkesbury town council has received a report proposing major changes for Confederation Park on Chenail Island.

At the May 25 council meeting, John Hack of Sierra Planning and Management presented the compiled report following public consultations, and a community survey conducted in October and November of 2019 seeking suggestions from residents about what they wanted to see done to improve the park.

The biggest recommendation in the report is to develop a fixed pedestrian link to the mainland with a bridge or boardwalk to Cyr de Lasalle Park.  A boardwalk would also follow the entire shoreline of the island.  Parking would be more centralized, and the emphasis would be on making the park pedestrian and cyclist friendly.

The report proposes developing an “urban beach,” also called a “faux beach” at the northeast corner of the island.  It would be a large area of sand for beach recreation, but the sand would not go directly into the river.  There would also be a new washroom building nearby.  It would be separated from the water by a small barrier of stone or grass.  An outdoor marketplace area is also proposed.  The banks next to the busy road carrying traffic to the Long Sault Bridge would be planted with trees and shrubs to give the area a more natural appearance.

Councillor Yves Paquette questioned the suggested location of the beach area and said that as a fisherman, he knows there are strong currents in the area.

Hack explained that the purpose of an urban beach or faux–false beach is not necessarily to have a swimming area, although nothing would stop people from going into the water if they chose.

The report proposes that the boat launch next to the Monument de la francophonie remain in place, along with the pétanque area next to Maison de l’île.

Hack said that the report contains reasonable proposals that can lead to a solution that everyone on council and in the community can support.

“The connection for the downtown is critical,” said Hack, about the need to make the park better connected to the downtown business area.  He suggested that the town make the fixed link to the mainland one of its priorities as planning and discussions continue.

“It’s very attractive, that’s for certain,” was Councillor Lawrence Bogue’s reaction to the plan.

Councillor Robert Lefebvre said that he likes the proposal for the boardwalk connection to the downtown area and the emphasis on sustainability in the plan for the park.

When the time arrived for council to vote on receiving the report, Lefebvre asked if there would be further public meetings to gather opinions.

Assaly noted that there had already been four public meetings where opinions were gathered.

Approximately 150 comments and suggestions were received during the public consultation and survey process.

“We’re going to have to make some choices,” Assaly said, suggesting a committee be established to go over the report and decide what proposals are the most feasible and how they should be implemented.

Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis said that he does not want the report to be ignored and said that the recommendations should be implemented whenever possible.

The report, prepared by Sierra, cost the Town of Hawkesbury about $34,600.

Council approved the receipt of the report and agreed that a committee of revision to discuss its implementation be formed.  That committee will include the Director of Recreation and Tourism, The Director of Planning, and the Director of Public Works, and up to six other members of the community.  One of the committee’s responsibilities will be to discuss timelines and possible sources of grants for any improvements made to the park.

Council plans to discuss the formation of the Confederation Park committee further at its next Committee of the Whole meeting at 10 a.m. on June 16.