Baxter Park will no longer be accessible from Lakeshore Road after City Council approved a plan to demolish the former Kinsmen Centre building in 2018 and replace it with five houses fronting Lakeshore Road.
The five house option was considered alongside an option that would see nine houses and another which would reconsider the park’s master plan.
Councillors Brian White, Bev MacDougall, Andy Bruziewicz, Matt Mitro, and Cindy Scholten supported the five-lot plan while Councillors Mike Kelch and Dave Boushy, plus Mayor Mike Bradley, voted against.
The Kinsmen Centre and Baxter Park are two separate lots, but many neighbours and Mayor Mike Bradley said the two lots have always been considered one park.
In January, City staff proposed a development plan that would rezone the land from “open space” to “urban residential” and amend the Official Plan to allow the Kinsmen Centre to be replaced with houses.
But Council asked staff to put that proposal on hold for six months, allowing for more public consultation after being presented with a 300-signature petition condemning the plan.
Concerned neighbours Patrick Marcella and Giselle Owen addressed Council before the vote suggesting the property could be transformed into a community space, but to no avail.
“This could lead to the demise of parkland across the city,” said Marcella.
Some Councillors, however, do not see this as losing part of the park.
“We’re not selling the park. Six-acres of the park will be there,” said Councillor Scholten. “We are at a time when we cannot afford to be building new community centres.”
Scholten added that finances for the City do not support that kind of initiative.”Our operating budget is hurting.”
Scholten said the development plan is a good way for the City to bring in more tax dollars and boost revenue.
Councillor Dave Boushy proposed allowing the citizens group to fundraiser with the Kinsmen for new facilities on the property, but his motion was not seconded.
The City will now initiate a plan of subdivision application for the development of five residential lots and referred demolition of the Kinsmen Centre building and the Phase-Two Environmental Site Assessment to the 2018 budget process.