Westboro Beach revitalization delayed again; will partially reopen this summer

An orange life server on the sand at Westboro Beach.
A portion of Westboro Beach will be open this summer. Photo by Charlie Senack.

By Daria Maystruk

An unsupervised section of Westboro Beach will open again this summer, with redevelopment efforts delayed again. 

The beach has been out of order since June 2022, after the National Capital Commission (NCC) announced the start of its initiative. 

The $21-million-project aims to introduce a list of new amenities, including a new zero-carbon pavilion, riverfront lookouts, picnic areas and universally accessible pathways.

It was first delayed in 2022 due to national supply-chain and labour issues, according to the NCC. 

Len Fardella, co-president of the Westboro Beach Community Association (WBCA), said the delay was no surprise.

“We all live in this area and it was obvious the beach would not be ready — it was no surprise to anybody,” he said. 

While the structural foundations of the pavilion were completed in 2023, the pavilion and landscaping are left on the NCC’s website’s to-do list for this year. In a report published in January 2024, the NCC noted that landscaping will begin in May.

Len poses for a photo at Westboro Beach.
Len Fardella from the Westboro Beach community association said it’s no surprise plans have been delayed. Photo by Charlie Senack.

The stretch that will open this year — about 60 per cent of the beach according to Fardella — was also open last summer. 

Many of the amenities will also match what was available last year. 

The parking lot will be closed due to ongoing construction along the Kichi Zibi Mikan, but porta-potties and garbage cans will be available. Swimming will be “at your own risk,” as no lifeguards will be on duty and there will be no water testing.

With the construction “making great progress” at the pavilion, Fardella said the decision to open about 60 per cent of the beach was “a nice compromise” between the association and the NCC, especially considering last summer’s success.

“What they did last year was warmly received — the beach was actually quite busy over the summer,” Fardella said. “And we were quite happy with the NCC for [the partial reopening], because the default would be just to do nothing … It worked out well last year, and I expect it will work out well this year.”

Fardella said the beach will continue to host events such as a beach closing event in September, which brought in large crowds last year.

Construction scaffolding around the Pavillion at Westboro Beach.
Construction crews work on the pavilion at Westboro Beach on April 22, 2024. Photo by Charlie Senack.

He also said the association is now shifting to prioritizing the beach’s accessibility, and plans to follow up with the NCC in May this year about the logistics of the proposed common areas, the redevelopment of a native forest area, as well as the redirection of traffic and parking available to the public.

While Fardella said the association has “crossed fingers” for a full reopening in the summer of 2025, another one of the NCC’s projects — the revitalization of the Maplelawn Garden masonry walls — is still underway.

The walls have deteriorated over time, with another section collapsing in 2021. Other sections of the wall were also at risk. 

Collapsed sections have since been fenced off, with the NCC “reusing as much salvaged stone as possible” while dismantling and rebuilding the walls. 

Planning and a review occurred in 2021, then tree planting was completed in 2022. The excavation of a trench for the wall foundation, landscaping and the reassembly of the wall is set to be completed by winter 2024.

The NCC was unable to respond with an updated status on the project in time for publication.

The garden continues to be partially open to the public during construction work, which is currently set until Oct. 31, 2024, according to the NCC’s website.

Related: The early days of Maplelawn.

Yellow daffodils sprout out of the ground with The Keg manor in the distance.
Daffodils bloom at Maplelawn Gardens in late April 2024. Photo by Charlie Senack.

Leave a comment