Waterfront Development

The Waterfront's beauty is a product of decades of public investment, environmental remediation, and a long-term vision for recreating a people-focused waterfront: a community gathering place. The Waterfront is the capstone project of downtown revitalization. Long-term attention towards the Waterfront has helped to shift perceptions towards investing in the downtown, providing a sense of confidence and stability for private investors and businesspeople.

The two main segments of the Waterfront development - Clergue Park and Roberta Bondar Park - are linked by a 1.5km Waterfront Walkway (boardwalk). Clergue Park provides comfortable seating and picturesque landscaping where individuals can enjoy the scenic views of the St. Marys River. Landscaping proceeded using a nautical theme, with a variety of natural vegetation designed to provide warmth to the space year round. The Brookfield Demonstration Pond provides an experiential learning opportunity to gain knowledge about local flora, fauna, and regional aquatic ecosystems (see photo below).

Bondar Park

Roberta Bondar Park provides year-round event space for festivals and markets under the large tent, which has become a symbolic landmark. It contains the Public Marina that hosts boaters from around the world. Each year, both sites host events and festivals including Bon Soo (Ontario's largest winter carnival), Rotaryfest Community Days, Tall Ships Festival, Terry Fox Run, St. Jean de Baptiste Day, and the City's Summer Concert Series.

The Waterfront's design successfully integrates the industrial heritage of the steel and transport industries that has served as the lifeblood of Sault Ste. Marie for over a century and the ancestral aboriginal legacy of the area's earliest residents. This is accomplished through interpretive signage, public art, urban design techniques, and interactive elements. Public art installations include wind chimes fashioned from the horns of the M.S. Chief Wawatam, and Spirits Rising, a glass teepee installation embodying community spirit and unity. The design celebrates the multiple histories that have shaped our city. The layout creates a comfortable microclimate conducive to year-round use, shielding users from channel winds.

Sault Ste. Marie's Waterfront provides valuable green space for downtown residents and unique recreational opportunities. Fishing platforms along the boardwalk allow individuals to take advantage of the location Hemingway fished for rainbow trout on his holidays in the 1930s. The John Rowswell Hub Trail connects to the boardwalk making it easily accessible for cyclists and pedestrians across the city. The broad lawns and rolling hills provide comfortable rest areas that maximize the most attractive views of the river. The Sault Ste. Marie Waterfront has become a regional attraction for residents of Ontario and Michigan.

Revitalization efforts and the Waterfront's beauty are being recognized beyond the city limits. In 2014, the Canadian Urban Institute presented the City of Sault Ste. Marie with a Brownie Award for the decades-long waterfront revitalization project. The CUI evaluated projects based on the ability to stimulate neighbourhood scale reinvestment, adaptive reuse of heritage, high levels of collaboration, and promoting comprehensive neighbourhood transformation. The Sault Waterfront was also a finalist in the Canadian Institute of Planners' 'Great Places in Canada' contest in 2014.

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