Highland Glen Waterfront Park to be transferred to Plympton-Wyoming

Work has begun to transfer the 10.5 hectares that make up the Highland Glen Conservation Area on Lake Huron from the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority to the Municipality of Plympton-Wyoming.

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Work has started to transfer the 10.5 hectare Highland Glen Conservation Area on Lake Huron from the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority to the Municipality of Plympton-Wyoming.

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Earlier this month, the conservation authority’s board of directors and city council both voted to begin the process of transferring the park and its management in Plympton-Wyoming.

Because provincial funding was used for the park established in the late 1970s, provincial approval will also be required for the land to be transferred to the municipality, said Ken Phillips, chief executive officer of the Conservation Authority. nature.

Highland Glen has a beach, picnic and play area, as well as a public boat launch. The boat launch, however, has been closed in recent years due to damage from high water levels on the lake.

Plympton-Wyoming raised the idea of ​​the park being transferred to its control, which prompted the board to vote earlier this month to allow its staff to begin transition talks.

Ken Phillips, Executive Director of the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority.
Ken Phillips, Executive Director of the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority. Handout

“We were just in a position where the capital costs of launching and advancing the launch were beyond our means,” said Phillips.

It was estimated that $ 6.2 million in work could be needed over a decade for the closed boat launch, shoreline protections and other work at the site, he said.

“The municipality is still very interested in continuing this operation,” and Plympton-Wyoming may have access to grants and funding sources “that we may not necessarily be able to tap,” said Phillips.

“If they have full control over the property, it makes it easier for them to put the wheels in motion to help rehabilitate the boat launch,” he said.

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Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper said the city would look “at a long review that and the cost.”

“We saw the opportunity there, maybe we could take it back and do a little different job on it, and hopefully we can bring it back to where it was before,” he said, “but it’s going to take a while.”

Highland Glen was one of the few public boat launches on Lake Huron in Lambton County, along with those at Sarnia, Port Franks and Grand Bend.

Phillips said the conservation authority will go ahead with spending around $ 30,000 it has already budgeted for improvements to Highland Glen in 2022, including repairing a staircase to the beach and shore stabilization.

The conservation authority’s board is asking for a guarantee that the land will remain in state hands after the transfer, he said.

The transfer of land from conservation authorities to municipalities is “quite rare” in Ontario, said Phillips, “but it is indicative of some of the challenges we face as we move forward in terms of resource allocation. . “

“I hope this is a win-win situation for both sides,” he said.

It’s unclear how long it might take for the province to approve the formal transfer of the land, but the conservation authority and the municipality can move forward with working out an arrangement whereby Plympton-Wyoming takes in charge of managing the site until then, Phillips said.

Recently, control of the former CJ McEwen Conservation Area, a four-hectare park also on Lake Huron, was also ceded to Plympton-Wyoming by the conservation authority.

In 2016, the former Lamrecton Camp on Lake Huron was donated to Plympton-Wyoming as a waterfront park.

“We have a good number of parks along the waterfront,” providing residents and the public with access to the lake, Napper said.

“The council has a vision there with the big parks, and I think that’s a good vision. “

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