Breakwater Park No Paradise

DSCN3430It drives me nuts when I hear that a commuter road through Doug Fluhrer Park would not negatively impact that green space as much as we think: why, just look at Breakwater Park, people say! It’s so lovely!

Lots of people enjoy Breakwater Park, that narrow stretch of parkland that hugs the lake south of Queen’s University and KGH, despite the traffic that hurtles along King Street at high speed. It’s a nice park, but given the challenges of access, hardly one which should be held up as an example worth copying.

During my first three years of motherhood I lived in an apartment on Beverley Street, which runs between Union and King just west of Queen’s campus. The south end of Beverley is opposite the westernmost edge of Breakwater Park, and there were no pedestrian crossings. Most days I would take a dog and a baby (and later the dog, a toddler and a baby) to the park. Sometimes we remained in the park and other times we used the waterfront pathway to get downtown. It was an atypical day if we were able to cross King Street without waiting ages for a break in traffic — and then we would run as fast as we could across the road. There’s a good stretch of King between traffic lights where cars can pick up speed. The proximity of the busy road to the park meant that should my toddler make a break for it, or my dog escape his leash, neither would have had much chance of survival had he run in the wrong direction.

The design for Douglas Fluhrer Park approved by City Council in 2014 shows that pedestrians using the park would cross Wellington Street with traffic lights at Bay or at Cataraqui, or use a “potential courtesy crossing” from the bottom of North Street. Like Breakwater then, the safest access for pedestrians would be at the park’s end (King Street can be crossed with the traffic light at the foot of Barrie Street), even though many residents would prefer to take their chances and enter the park at a more convenient point. The Wellington Street Extension as planned would have a posted speed of 50 km/hr and a design speed of 70 km/hr.

So yes, in some undesirable ways Fluhrer Park would be like Breakwater Park. Without the road, however, Fluhrer Park can continue to attract joggers, picnickers, dog-walkers, and wildlife-watchers, and emulate what is best about Breakwater Park: namely, its waterfront access.

— Anne Lougheed

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One thought on “Breakwater Park No Paradise

  1. Agree wholeheartedly with Anne! Crossing into Breakwater Park is bad enough, continual watching of a small child or dog once there makes the walk no pleasure at all. And the noise and fumes of traffic are always present. We haven’t walked in that park since moving into Kingston BUT….we can walk safely to and within Doug Fluhrer Park and do so as often as we can. Long may that continue!

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