Consultants present visions for tar ponds site

Cape Breton Post
Feb. 15, 2012

SYDNEY — Consultants tasked with redeveloping the north and south tar ponds site into a large park and commons used for sports, recreational activities and community events received feedback from some residents during an open house Wednesday evening.

Stantec Inc. provided several detailed conceptual drawings of the park, with the Wash Brook flowing through it and a trail hugging its waterline.

The open house was held in the cafeteria of Etoile de l’Acadie.

A large field called the Sydney Commons would be open to many types of recreational sports, as well as entertainment. Off the commons is an amphitheatre and concert stage. There is also room for a playground and a pond that could be used as an outdoor skating rink in winter. A couple of pedestrian bridges would be built over the Wash Brook, allowing easy access to the city’s downtown and north end.

The interpretive aspect of the park would include community history and the story of Sydney’s steelmaking past. There will also likely be information on the tar ponds as one of the largest environmental clean-up projects in Canadian history.

Stantec landscape architect Gary Sorge said one entrance to the park would be found on Prince Street, while the main gate to the park would be located near the corner of Inglis and Ferry streets. He said the best aspect of the project is how the park would link the neighbourhoods of Whitney Pier, Ashby and the north end together for the first time in more than a century.

Sorge said the scar the tar ponds has left on Sydney’s landscape will be gone, making it easier to attract and retain investment. "People want to live near parks. People want to work near parks. It’s a way to grow the population," he told a group of about 40 people watching the presentation.

Each person was handed a questionnaire to fill out in order to gauge their interest in different aspects of the green space.

Sorge said Stantec will use the information it collects from residents as it finalizes the design of the park. He said his firm is looking to have the design ready by June so tenders can be awarded to contractors later this summer.