Divers, swimmers and kayakers alike can now use the aluminum steps at the new access point leading into the St. Lawrence River in Brockville.
Tom Scott, a member of Save Ontario Shipwrecks (SOS) Thousand Islands Chapter, said it was time for a new access point, so traffic of users would be distributed from Centeen Park to reduce congestion of parking and access to the water. “Build it and they will come,” said Scott. The access point at Reynolds Park officially opened on Thursday at 9 a.m., and wet footprints from a swimmer earlier in the morning could be found on the platforms.
“There’s a lot of history in this piece of property,” said Scott. In keeping with the SOS mandate to preserve marine heritage, the design of the access point incorporated an old bollard that boats would have tied off on; it is featured on the platform before the descending stairs. The City of Brockville plans to turn the parking lot into a park sometime in the future.
Phil Wood, director of operations for the city, said “SOS was fantastic to work with.” Wood said the municipality assisted the project with processes they were familiar with, like working with the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority to get permits for the build, as well as with engineering processes. “But all of the credit needs to go to them.” Wood added.
“That new water access is a cornerstone for the passage park that the city is going to build,” said Stephan Senecal, chair of SOS Thousand Islands Chapter.
Stephen Hatch, project lead, and about 20 SOS volunteers worked for 434 hours to help build the access point over a two-week period, which began June 3. The final concrete was poured June 15.
“I’m really proud of what they did and I’m really excited,” commented Nathalie Lavergne, a Brockville councillor and diver.
In 2016, after a donation from Helen Cooper and the Dave Cooper Memorial Fund, SOS started the process of finding a home for the access point somewhere between Centeen Park and Blockhouse Island. Reynolds Park was mutually agreed to in 2020. A portion of the project was funded by the memorial fund and SOS, with a total of $2,875.
A total of $1,400 was accepted after SOS member Dominique Gingras created a GoFundMe campaign to garner funds for the aluminum steps. SOS also acknowledged $1,600 worth of in-kind donations.
“It’s an asset for the city,” Brockville resident Dixie Logie said of the new feature.
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times