WHEN you holiday by the sea, or in a lake or riverside location, do you find yourself drawn to the water?
It’s a natural response – there is something pleasing to the senses about being near and looking out across water. Local tourism industries are often built around a city or town’s proximity to water, and Lake Macquarie is no exception.
People come to Lake Macquarie to enjoy our beautiful lake. The lake is also the reason many in our community choose to live in the city. Surprisingly, for a city with 175 kilometres of lake foreshore, Lake Macquarie has relatively few spots where visitors and locals can eat or stay directly on the waterfront. Yet, this is increasingly the experience that people seek out when they are on holidays or looking for a nice spot to dine out with family or friends.
For a city with 175 kilometres of lake foreshore, Lake Macquarie has relatively few spots where visitors and locals can eat or stay directly on the waterfront.
This is why council is looking for opportunities to enhance recreational opportunities around the lake, to give our residents and visitors a greater sense of connection to our water and foreshore assets.
We have seen how well foreshore enhancement has worked in places like Warners Bay and Speers Point, which have become popular spots year-round for walkers, joggers, riders, exercisers and picnickers, among others, as well as great venues for community events.
Council is now turning its attention to the Toronto Foreshore. Toronto is one of our most picturesque town centres, with a main street that runs right down to the lake. Some parts of the foreshore are activated already but there is potential to make it a much more vibrant and accessible area for people to enjoy, as well as a drawcard for tourists.
Council is developing a Master Plan for the Toronto Foreshore and is seeking feedback from the community on the types of facilities, amenities and environment they would like to see along the foreshore stretch from Goffet Park to Bath Street.
That might include facilities such as a boardwalk or shared pathway, exercise equipment, playgrounds, picnic tables, public art, or new infrastructure to support more dining and entertainment options on the waterfront. Council is also moving forward with plans for a tourism, commercial and residential development on waterfront land at Bath Street, Toronto, and the community will have an opportunity through this initial consultation phase to have their say on how that development integrates with the foreshore precinct.
Tourism presents great opportunities for Lake Macquarie. Tourists have been drawn to Toronto since the late 1800s, as Heritage Trail signage on the foreshore acknowledges, and council’s plans for the area will build on that tradition. Growing tourism opportunities is an important part of council’s strategy to diversify the city’s economy as we shift from a traditional reliance on mining, manufacturing and power generation.
The proposed Bath Street development will help fill a gap in our city for accommodation and recreational facilities on the waterfront, which will boost our tourism offering, providing flow-on effects for business operators in Toronto and beyond. At the same time, it will activate and transform what has for many years been a degraded site primarily used as an overflow parking area – a function that does not do justice to its location or potential.
The incorporation of retail and commercial space in the Bath Street development opens it to the inclusion of cafés and restaurants, creating the prospect of an enticing waterfront destination point along an upgraded foreshore walk from the town centre. The residential component of the project is consistent with council’s objective of providing more housing choice in our town centres. We know there is demand for low-maintenance properties close to town centres and that increasing residential concentration in these locations leads to places that are more vibrant by day and night and attract better services, such as improved public transport and health services.
Council acknowledges the development proposal has prompted concerns from some in the community, who fear it will result in loss of access to the waterfront. However, a foreshore buffer will be maintained and public access will be enhanced through pathways to improve accessibility.
Following this initial period of consultation on the Toronto Foreshore Master Plan, council will go to tender to appoint a consultant to create an integrated design for the foreshore precinct. Further community consultation will be undertaken at this stage.
The council is looking forward to hearing the community’s ideas. Visit shapelakemac.com.au/future-toronto.