A masterplan approved for Toronto's foreshore has been labelled as a "cart before the horse" for going ahead without a plan for parking.
The foreshore masterplan, which was approved at last week's Lake Macquarie council meeting, includes converting an informal car park across from the Royal Motor Yacht Club (RMYC) into a potential café/bike hub and park land.
RMYC vice commodore and Toronto Foreshore Protection Group member Mel Steiner said he supported the masterplan and café/bike hub, but believed there wasn't enough consideration given to parking.
"The council have been saying for sometime that the whole reason for this foreshore masterplan is to activate the foreshore," he said.
"I said 'what do you mean by activate the foreshore? Does that mean bringing people to the foreshore?' and they said 'yes it is', and so the obvious question is where are they going to park?
"You've got to make it easy for people to get there otherwise they won't bother going."
A council spokesperson said the masterplan reflected "the strategic direction" outlined in the Lake Mac Parking Strategy and included no net loss in "formal" car parks. They also said during consultation, the community said they preferred open space as opposed to car parking.
"Traffic and parking for Toronto will be addressed strategically through Toronto's Transport Management Plan which has been identified for development in 2022-2023," the spokesperson said. "The outcomes of the transport management plan are unlikely to have an impact on the proposed Toronto foreshore improvements."
But Mr Steiner said it was already difficult to park in the town and believes the plan should have included more parking, or been run in tandem with the transport management plan.
"It's cart before the horse in not doing the traffic study as part of the masterplan," he said.
Mr Steiner said he believed the loss of the informal car park would negatively impact the club and other businesses.
"They've said parking for the club is not our responsibility and we accept that but given that there is parking around the area now, taking it away is going to have a dramatic effect on the club and the way we operate," he said.
"We run about 300 events a year - a combination of sailing events - at least 100 of those a year, plus community events, wakes, weddings. So we're already activating the foreshore by bringing people to Toronto.
"We'll have to think differently - maybe we've got to get a bus to pick people up, and then we've got to think about where do we get them to park to be able to pick them up?
"You can look at our car park through the week and it won't be full but there are plenty of cars in that space. I know there are councillors who are constantly saying 'that's just overflow parking for the club'. You could see it when we were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic - the club was closed, our car park was empty and yet that car park was being used constantly."
Mr Steiner also raised concern the site was classified as "operational". Council previously planned to turn it into a four-to-six storey residential development, but those plans were called off after community outrage.
The protection group wants the site classification to be converted to "community" to prevent it being developed in the future.
"If it remains operational they can do anything with it," Mr Steiner said. "At some stage in the future they could even go back to putting up a six storey residential tower.
"They say they want to keep it operational so when they put a coffee shop on there and lease it out it gives them greater flexibility with the leasing arrangements. But they've got Tinto's down on the foreshore which is on community land and they don't have any problems with that so I don't understand why it's a problem at this end."
Council said it wanted this café to provide additional offerings, such as bike or paddle board hire and the community classification carried restrictions for permissible uses and leasing/licencing.
RMYC and the Boat Owners Association of NSW (BOA) have also raised issues with how the plan will impact access to foreshore boat ramps. A ramp on Wharf Road will be closed and boat users say it will be harder to park cars and trailers near a ramp the club manages without the informal car park.
"The boat ramp is part of our marina lease, although when it was built it was funded by maritime, council and ourselves," Mr Steiner said "We've maintained it since and we've always maintained it as a public ramp. Council's view is 'it's a private ramp, we don't have to provide parking for it'."
Council said the nearest public ramp was at Lions Park, about 2km away. But there are concerns about how viable that ramp is.
"It's unusable, it's shallow water and council says they're going to upgrade it, but it's out of town," Mr Steiner said.
"It would need a lot of work," said BOA member Frank Downing. "And it's terribly weather affected."
As part of the masterplan, council is proposing to provide some manoeuvring and rigging spaces near the Bath Street ramp.
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