Saturday, May 8, 2010 Link To Herald The Halifax Herald Limited

A vision for trails at site of tar ponds

By The Canadian Press

SYDNEY — Bleak post-industrial landscapes could be transformed to lush recreation and wildlife areas, along with commercial development, under the vision for the future of the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens sites.

The blueprint, developed by Ekistics Planning and Design, for what the sites could look like following the current $400-million cleanup was unveiled Thursday for members of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s planning advisory committee. Ekistics’ work began nine months ago.

The plans include a greenway with a trail system, tidal marshes, wetland parks and wildlife stations. "It’s so very close to the cruise ship dock and we think that this whole trail network and open space network could be something that will provide a viable alternative to keep tourists in the area for the day, rather than get on buses to go to other areas," said planner Rob LeBlanc.

Another area could become a commons including an outdoor concert venue, sports fields, washrooms, exercise stations and a playground. "We were tasked with really trying to come up with multi-seasonal uses, thinking of this in terms of what would make a healthy community," LeBlanc said.

There are also possibilities for a future water park and dog park.

"What we’re hoping to do as part of the workshops in the future is to be able to get some feedback on some of these ideas and be able to revise the plan to reflect what the community thinks are priorities," LeBlanc said.

There will be public open houses on the plan and feedback will be used to develop the final plan.