THUNDER BAY — A planned major expansion to Fisherman's Park, on Thunder Bay's waterfront, will be a significantly different development from the existing part of the park.
The park is located at the mouth of the Current River.
Currently, the only developed portion is on the river's east side.
The city is now working with the Thunder Bay District Stewardship Council and the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority on a concept plan to develop the property on the west side of the river, near the Richardson grain terminal.
"We really want to create a contrast with the other side, which is a little bit more of a manicured, traditional park-like setting. This is really meant to be more of a natural habitat, natural restoration project," says Werner Schwar, supervisor of parks and open space planning for the city.
The project will include passive recreation opportunities, the restoration of wildlife habitat, re-creation of coastal wetlands, and rehabilitation of the Lake Superior shoreline.
The aim is to return the west side to a more naturalized condition by planting trees, shrubs, and perennials that are native to the region.
Pollinator habitat restoration would also be achieved in the centre of the site by planting native grass and herbaceous seed mixes in an area currently dominated by non-native species.
About 17 per cent of that section has been disturbed by all-terrain vehicles and is currently barren of vegetation.
Once completed, it's expected that the rehabilitated area would attract a variety of native pollinators, act as a seed bank to foster future diversity in sections surrounding the pollinator habitat, and compete with existing non-native vegetation.
The planning document states that scattered rocks and logs would be used to provide heat sinks and habitat, and footpaths would be constructed out of organic material.
Schwar said the stewardship council and the conservation authority have already received grants to do some preliminary work, but completing the entire plan is a longer-term project with no specific timeline.
Last year, the stewardship council installed some bird nesting boxes on the west side
Schwar described the site as "a really special place" for residents not only to enjoy the natural surroundings but also get a close-up look at boats being loaded with grain at the nearby terminal.
The development plan is available for inspection and feedback on the city's website until March 1, 2021.