Will construction be ongoing during events in Harris Park like Rock the Park or the Great Outdoors Comedy Festival?

    Construction initiation for this project is scheduled for late July. Project timetables will ensure construction is not underway during any major events in Harris Park.

    How and when will the Thames Valley Parkway be affected?

    The Thames Valley Parkway (TVP) will be closed from Harris Park Gate to Blackfriars Bridge during construction with active traffic detoured via the TVP on the west side of the Thames River. Regular traffic expected to resume by end of 2024.

    Will Harris Park be closed during construction?

    • Yes. Park closure is deemed necessary for safety reasons as it will become a construction site. Harris Park Entry will be closed for construction access.
    • The Thames Valley Parkway (TVP) will be closed for the duration of the construction. Detours for pedestrians and cyclists will be provided. Access to the Lower Harris Park parking lot will be maintained.
    • The shoreline of Harris Park will not be accessible during construction. Construction fencing will delineate the construction area. 

    What is planned for the trees in the park?

    • There are 52 trees in the park, including cottonwood, red maple, burr oak, hackberry, sugar maple, Norway maple, and willow species.
    • Some large cottonwoods show declining health and pose potential hazards due to their age. 
    • 80 new trees will be planted as part of this project. It is anticipated that fewer than 30 existing trees will be impacted by proposed works (30% of Tree Protection Zone) in the disturbance area, and will be removed. Review the Tree Preservation Report here
    • More trees will be planted than are required to be removed.  These replacements will be large growth form native species (such as Eastern Cottonwood, Tulip Tree, Black Maple, American Sycamore) that will provide more canopy cover once they mature as compared to the existing conditions in Harris Park.
    • The City is finalizing the project design and anticipated tree impacts ahead of construction this summer, and we’ve identified changes to the Thames Valley Parkway path design to further preserve four additional trees in Harris Park. While some trees in the project area cannot be preserved due to the location of their roots, the tree’s current health, or other health and safety reasons, we strive to preserve as many trees as possible through the construction. 

    What benefit does this project have for the natural environment?

    • Removal of deteriorated stone gabion baskets and replacement with a reinforced vegetated revetment provides an opportunity to restore the natural environment and protect the Thames River and Harris Park shoreline.
    • Discourage use of informal water access in sensitive areas and to direct paddlers to the more suitable and sustainable access location.
    • Educational signage about protecting the river ecosystem will be posted, invasive species will continue to be managed, and native trees will be planted and protected.
    • Subsequent to the two Environmental Impact Studies completed in 2019 as part of the One River Environmental Assessment and River Management Plan, an additional project specific Environmental Impact Study was undertaken for the affected area at Harris Park. The recommendations from the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) will be implemented to protect sensitive habitats and species.
    • Some areas along the Thames that are currently mowed grass will be converted to naturalized meadow with a native pollinator friendly seed mix, providing a net increase to naturalized areas along the Thames within Harris Park.

    What is an accessible paddling access?

    • At a minimum, an accessible access to the river will typically have a firm and stable pathway connection from the existing parking lot to the access point consistent with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). 
    • The existing river access point in Harris Park was chosen for an Enhanced Accessibility Improvement per the recommendations of the Paddling Plan and is intended for non-motorized boats (canoes, kayaks, etc.).

    Will there be additional maintenance required for the new park elements and environments?

    Yes. A maintenance plan will be prepared for the naturalized area to include invasive species control & monitoring, tree care, as well as maintenance of the proposed elements (fishing platform, lookout and accessible boat launch). Pathway maintenance and mowing of the rest of the park will continue as present.