Centennial Park – THE Centennial Project
On Tuesday, April 15 at 6 pm, the City will entertain public comments on their remediation plan for Centennial Park. The current proposal offers an acceptable engineering solution that reshapes the “large portion of the Park” that has been fenced during the past year.
Parks are for people. Parks are the counter-balance to the urban environment that offer a wide variety of natural opportunities for individual renewal and community celebrations.
This fundamental component is sadly under developed in the current proposal, which calls for berms, plantings, adding more(?!) parking, a fairly light revision to public amenities, and recognition of the current Centennial Project. In this Centennial Year, Centennial Park, and the community it serves deserve better.
Community and financial support for the Centennial Legacy Project continues to be weak since receiving reluctant approval by Council in November 2012. Continuing downsizing may reflect the limited and seasonal access options of the splash pad and fireplace, and the pay-as-you go nature of a pavilion that duplicates the Dow People Place. All run counter to the 24/7/365 open accessibility of parks.
Over the past several decades, the value of municipal waterfronts has been proven across the world by substantial municipal investments. The creation of Centennial and Canatera Park, along with the continuing growth of bicycle trails in Sarnia and the Township of St. Clair represent the best effort to date.
Parks play a significant roll in the City Official Plan (notably Item 2-Principles for a Vibrant City), County development objectives for attracting residents, business, and tourism, and current branding plans.
The necessity for the major expenditure required for reconstruction offers the City an unprecedented opportunity to consider Centennial Park as THE Centennial Project, and to execute a thoughtful, creative, and comprehensive legacy design for the next one hundred years.
The quality of life is elevated by intelligent design and the City should be encouraged to offer an open competition for the redesign of Centennial Park.
Expanding the context to consider the entirety of Centennial Park, the Point Lands, the Harbour, and reinforcing connections to Canaterra Park, the Bridge (so what if it’s in Pointe Edward-think “County”!), and relevant relationships to residential and commercial facilities would create a more substantial park “system”.
The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) offers guidelines for engaging the community in soliciting ideas and transforming them into a design program suitable for engaging professional services.
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) (and soon the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects) offer guidelines for engaging the design creativity of the best professional design talent through an Endorsed Competition would provide the structure, fairness, and compensation necessary to achieve a design to maximize the full potential of the Park.
It’s a famous quote, because it’s true…
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”— Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912)
A small investment in big ideas offers the best value for the future quality of life in the City and for its citizens.
caption: Centennial Park – pre-development 1980 (www.sarnia100.com)
David Lavender is a local architect with an international practice.
You can contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at @LavenderArch and on Facebook at David Lavender Architect.