I grew up in Heart Lake, and probably have a fairly unrealistic memory of how awesome Loafer’s Lake was. But to me, it was one of the Gateways to my childhood summers. You see, I could just walk/ride down Conestoga, down the hill, maybe climb the tree (that’s still there across from Cyril Clark’s entranceway) and eat a crabapple (how did my generation even survive?), then there it was: the entire Etobicoke Creek Trail system. Dozens of kilometers of open, free parkland, paved trails, dirt trails, mini golf, Loafer’s Lake, paddle boats, soccer fields, schools and play grounds.
You could play soccer, basketball, baseball, catch, lacrosse, cricket, you could walk, run, cycle, you could catch crayfish, pick blackberries, play fetch with your dog. You could get from Mayfield Road to Duggan Park without ever once setting foot on an actual road, meaning no one was going to be run over, you didn’t have to go near any houses if you didn’t want to. It was amazing! And it was the only place like it in the City. (The Chinguacousy park trail system was okay, back then, not as good as it is now.)
When I picture Riverstone Golf and Country Club as a City Facility, and I think about the fact that when linked to Claireville Conservation Lands it will be over double the size of Central Park in NY, I get excited. Here’s what that looks like (so far):
And, when I think about the fact that there are even more wetlands that could be added to this park system? This is what that looks like (so far):
We are talking about a project that would service not only Brampton, but the entire region! Imagine: a project in Brampton capable of creating some reverse commuting? Some inflow of patrons? Some, you know, money from our neighbours being put into the Brampton economy, instead of the other way around. Coming to town to play in the park that’s double the size of Central Park. Maybe we could even generate some filming location inside the park, like they do in say, Central Park? Maybe cute little Central Perks will open in the neighbouring streets. Maybe some bike rentals, maybe some food trucks. Maybe some music festivals, sports tournaments. Maybe some tourism?
I know that’s all very radical. We don’t want any of THAT stuff do we?
So let’s say we don’t get creative with it. Say all we do is integrate Claireville into a larger Humber River Creekbed Park system. What would that look like I wonder? Oh look, it connects Claireville all the way to Lake Ontario, and makes the Etobicoke Creek Trail look short in comparison.
IMHO: the mistake was not getting this land back for the City; the mistake was letting it be just a Golf Course in the first place.