A dog park, an accessible kayak and canoe launch, an 800-metre walking trail, wildlife restoration areas and multiple fishing decks are part of an exciting concept plan for Ranta Marina Park showcased recently for Amherstburg's Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.
The plan would fill a glaring need to provide Amherstburg paddlers access to the Detroit River and it would create the Town’s first off-leash dog park, which was a common ask made by residents during the election campaign. It would also create several fishing spots for adults and tykes in a waterfront town pretty much infamous for its lack of public angling space.
There is already funding in place for at least some if not most of these upgrades, which would of course be subject to public consultation and approval by Council.
A bequest was made to the Town in 2004 for improvements and maintenance in the 17-acre park and there is now more than $150,000 in the fund. As well, park improvements creating naturalized areas and habitat for turtles and fish may well be eligible for grant money.
As a neophyte kayaker, I can attest to the need for additional launches in Amherstburg and particularly the need for access to the Detroit River.
There’s a lovely launch in River Canard Park, but you can’t use it to access the Detroit River because of high water levels beneath rail bridges. And, even if water levels were lower, it would be a heck of a long paddle to get to the river and back.
While the current is definitely an issue where the Detroit River narrows, there is ample space to paddle around the Ranta Marina Park shoreline.
A launch there would also provide access for kayakers and canoeists looking to paddle beneath the Bridge to Nationhood on County Road 20 and explore the parts of River Canard not accessible from the River Canard Park launch.
As the owner of two dogs – Magic and Day-Z – I might be a bit biased when it comes to the need for a dog park, but they are definitely successful in other municipalities including Essex, Tecumseh and Windsor. And it was certainly something candidates heard about knocking doors, where it seemed like every other house had a pooch or two.
Choosing the location for a dog park is a bit tricky. You actually don’t want it near residential areas because of the potential for noise issues – from the dogs barking in the park and the neighbourhood dogs responding in kind. As well, you need considerable space, not only for the dogs to roam but also to allow for the periodic resting of sections of turf since dogs are tough on grass.
There is certainly space in Ranta Marina Park, which is sprawling and vastly under-utilized. The plan calls for a 0.6-acre space for large dogs, a .25-acre space for small dogs and a larger dog run stretching some 1.25 acres.
The concept plan presented to the parks committee features multiple fishing decks on the Detroit River and tyke fishing platforms along a channel on the southern side of the park.
There are also turtle and fish habitat cells, wetland and upland restoration areas, a riparian fish habitat enhancement area and a meandering walking trail around the perimeter of the park.
The plan would result in reduced turf maintenance costs but there would be costs associated with upkeep of the dog park though they could potentially be offset with sponsorships.
What do you think about the concept plan? Let me know!