The Progress Park Site Proposal
PRCC has been working with the City of Pickering to relocate to another location in Pickering. Our current site is on the Beachpoint Promenade spit however, the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority (TRCA) has determined that no structures can be built on the spit due to high water levels and its status as a dynamic beach. While we have moved our children’s programs to Rouge Beach, we must maintain a site at Frenchman’s Bay for our Special Olympics (PaddleAll), High Performance, Development, Master’s and Dragon Boat programs. Our Rouge Beach site is not appropriate for these programs because of the width and depth of the Rouge River, and the inability to have a motorized safety boat. Our programs for seniors and people with special needs are best run on Frenchman’s Bay.
We need the help of our members to stress the importance of the Canoe Club to the City of Pickering by completing a survey. If we do not have public support we are at risk of forever losing our Pickering site.
Reason for Moving the Frenchman’s Bay Site
The Toronto Regional Conservation Authority (TRCA) has determined that no structures can be built on the Frenchman’s Bay spit due to high water levels and its status as a dynamic beach. While PRCC has moved its children’s programs to Rouge Beach, it must maintain a site at Frenchman’s Bay for its Special Olympics (PaddleAll), High Performance, Development, Master’s and Dragon Boat programs. Our Rouge Beach site is not appropriate for these programs because of the width and depth of the Rouge River, and the inability to have a motorized safety boat. Our programs for seniors and people with special needs are best run on Frenchman’s Bay.
Strengths of PRCC in Pickering
- PRCC has had a site on Frenchman’s Bay since the early 1990s. The club was formerly called the West Rouge Canoe Club and has been in existence since 1958. It was renamed in 2010 to strengthen the Pickering connection.
- Our programs are for all ages and abilities. As a volunteer, non-profit organization, we are community-based and provide our programs at reasonable cost. Paddling provides children, teenagers, adults and seniors with a healthy, outdoor activity. We greatly subsidize our Special Olympics program because it is so important.
- We hired a long-time participant of our PaddleAll program as a Junior Coach, providing an employment opportunity to a person with a disability.
- We have strong support from the paddling community, many of whom got their start with the club. Courtney Stott, who is currently on the National team and helped qualify the Women’s K4 for the 2020 Olympics, talks about getting her paddling start with PRCC. https://www.durhamregion.com/community-story/9588041-pickering-s-courtney-stott-paddling-in-the-direction-of-tokyo-olympic-games/
- Two of our young athletes competed at Marathon Worlds in China in October 2019. https://canoekayak.ca/bilewicz-and-fanok-to-represent-canada-at-the-2019-canoe-marathon-world-championships/
- We had a parathlete train with us in 2018 and he placed first in his category at the canoe and kayak National Time Trials in 2019.
- PRCC has a dragon boat program for adults. Most of our team are national and world champions.
The Value of Accessible Programs at the Bay
Our Special Olympics program for people with physical and intellectual disabilities is one of the largest in Ontario. The program received national recognition when our athletes won the Special Olympics burgee at the 2019 Canadian Sprint Canoe Championships. Along with hiring a person with a disability, another PRCC athlete was to be in Florida for spring training – this was the first time a person with a disability was attending the provincial training camp. Unfortunately, the training camp and our Special O program was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are hopeful it will resume in 2021.
PRCC’s PaddleAll is the only competitive Special Olympics program in Pickering. The program is identified as a Durham Region legacy sport as part of the Durham Region Adaptive Sport Collective project. We recently received a grant from Ontario Power Generation for a PaddleAll kayak in recognition of the importance of the program.
Paddling Site on Frenchman’s Bay at Progress Park
PRCC needs a new location on Frenchman’s Bay. We would dismantle the old site once we have a new place for our equipment. Boats would be stored in two shipping containers. We are currently consulting with experts to ensure that the containers are attractive and blend in with the surroundings. There would be no boat compound and all equipment would be kept securely within the structures.
Minimal Disruption to Local Residents
The programs that run on Frenchman’s Bay are small and there would be minimal disruption to local residents. Our Special Olympics program would have approximately 15 participants attending two evenings a week. Because of their disabilities, participants would need to park close to the launch site. Parents and caregivers often participate with the athletes.
High performance and development athletes are usually dropped off for morning and afternoon practices. This is a small competitive program that would pose no effect on the community. The Master’s and Dragon Boat programs run two evenings a week. If we are located at Progress Frenchman’s Bay East Park, there is ample parking in the on-site and overflow parking lots. Please note that all of our programs are inclusive and that some Special Olympic athletes or people with disabilities participate in our High Performance/Development, Master’s and Dragon Boat programs.
What about the Weeds?
The weeds vary from year to year in Frenchman’s Bay. Weeds are not a new issue and paddling clubs across Canada have successfully reduced weed growth through various means. PRCC would like to work with community groups and associations, local businesses, the City of Pickering and the TRCA to look at solutions for reducing weeds and improving water quality in the Bay. Frenchman’s Bay is a resource for all of us to use and enjoy.
We Need Your Support
The waterfront should be a people place. Frenchman’s Bay should be a people place. PRCC is inclusive and welcomes participants of all ages to the sport of paddling, whether future Olympian, para-athlete, Special Olympian or beginner paddler. PRCC has been part of the Frenchman’s Bay community for 30 years and we want to continue to have a place in its future.