THUNDER BAY – An identified high-risk waterway area of the city could get a future makeover.
Thunder Bay city council on Monday night voted in support of adding the mouth of the McVicar Creek as an area to be connected to Marina Park and included in the waterfront trail improvement plan with funding to be considered in a future budget.
The idea, which would develop a trail from Cumberland Street to where the creek flows into Lake Superior, was recommended by the city’s waterfront development committee at a meeting last year after it was identified in the watercourse and river audit.
“We went in there and brushed it so there are better sightlines,” Coun. Iain Angus, chair of the waterfront development committee, said after the meeting.
“By adding a recreation trail in there that means we’re putting more people into the area and we know from history that vulnerable people tend not to hang around areas where there are other people. It’s a win-win that we create a safer environment for everybody but we also make sure that we have another feeder system into the waterfront.”
The area was the scene of two homicides in 2017. In July, emergency responders found 31-year-old Kevin Roundhead unresponsive before he was pronounced dead in hospital. One month later, the body of 18-year-old Brayden Moonias was found in the vicinity.
The report to council highlights the extension of the existing McVicar Creek trail on the other side of Cumberland Street would link the residential area north of the downtown core to the waterfront trail.
Angus, who acknowledged there is no timeline for the project, said he expects it wouldn’t be a difficult process with work required under the overpass to create a channel to separate the trail from the train tracks.
The plans would also add a crossover and continue the trail to connect into the waterfront, Angus added.
“The existing trail sort of stops at Cumberland Street and that’s it,” Angus said. “It’s not exactly a safe area physically for pedestrians and cyclists to transfer to the road system.”
Coun. Aldo Ruberto said the piece of land where the creek drains into the lake is beautiful.
“There’s kind of a sand beach and it’s part of our waterfront that nobody ever uses,” Ruberto said. “It would be nice to have that explored and people using it.”
The issue has also been referred to the city’s intergovernmental affairs committee as part of their lobbying to senior levels of government for public safety funding.