Harbour of the Future – FAQs

Please see the below information for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Harbour of the Future Project.


For the past 3 years, an initiative has been in the works that is now known as the Harbour of the Future. This is a collaborative project, with multiple founders, which complements and integrates with the key improvements spearheaded by the Beaverton Lions with the Randy Skinner Splash Pad and the Foster Hewitt Memorial Playground.

The following are key Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and Answers to provide some context and understanding of what is going on with this project.

Why are changes being made to the Harbour?

The harbour area consists of grassy hills that are mostly monoculture grass with hard surfaces that do little to infiltrate runoff. As well, the area has many asphalt roadways that act as stormwater highways, carry oil, gas, road salt and suspended solids into the water. Many people use the Harbour as a place to park their car or boat while touring Lake Simcoe so there are certain pollutants that may be present in larger quantities such as oil, gas, metals and sodium that rain is washing into the Harbour. Islands of grassy hills surrounded by asphalt roadways create a recipe for erosion and sedimentation, which in turn create unhealthy waterways.

In addition, the playground is situated in a low-lying park at the bottom of two hills and a road. Children and pets occupy this spot and when a rain event occurs, the remains are washed toward the beach area. These pollutants could be contributing to poor water quality, and subsequent beach closures that have increased in the last four years.

What is the ‘Harbour of the Future'?

The Harbour of the Future is an experimental stormwater system that works to infiltrate the stormwater from the typical rain event, while offering people new spaces to enjoy the area. This system is also intended to handle spring run-off. This innovative system is also being developed to test new ways municipalities can use more natural and far less costly approaches to deal with the growing impact of climate change in their urbanized areas. The Green Municipal Fund (GMF) of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities chose to provide funding to Brock Township to conduct this experiment on behalf of municipalities across Canada, after a significant review because, in part, of its innovative design.

What construction is involved in this Harbour of the Future? 

This initiative is testing 4 different ‘design features' that work individually as well as part of a system to manage stormwater:
1) People Gardens: areas that provide seating for people to enjoy the Harbour, as well as events, with custom designed benches that filter water, and are integrated with trenches and plantings to absorb and filter the stormwater. There are 3 of these gardens; 2 on the hill facing the harbour and one ‘kids' garden by the playground;
2) Accessible Pathways: an experimentation of pathway resurfacing that integrates accessibility with stormwater management;
3) Road Resurfacing: an experimentation of road resurfacing with living material and water diversion techniques to manage storm water, while slowing down traffic, cooling down the surfaces, and enhancing the aesthetics of the roadway; and
4) Razzle Dazzle: a structure right next to the water that combines seating, boardwalk, plantings and trenching. This feature is the ‘last defence' in the system to capture and cleanse polluted runoff before it enters Lake Simcoe.

This new system is being built to divert and filter 1,076,634 litres of stormwater per year.

Why do the sites look the way they do? 

Every single detail of the design, including the benches, are built the way they are for water capture, infiltration and cleansing. The seating is created for water and people. In Razzle Dazzle, each rests at a different height to accommodate the many different people that visit the Harbour. There are no backs on the bench since this gives a potential 360 degree view.

The benches in the People Garden and Razzle Dazzle capture stormwater in the warmer months with their beveled tops, and in the winter, have lids that can be taken off converting them into snow catchers. Once captured, the snow is slowly melted and infiltrated into the ground. The planter boxes serve a similar purpose.

Each plant and surface has been carefully selected so that it can undertake its stormwater functions. Like any system, every small effort contributes to the larger outcome. The added component that is rarely found in typical stormwater designs is a place for the people. There is strong evidence to suggest that people walk more when they have a destination and this area was designed as a destination for people to enjoy and rest.

The paint on the asphalt seals the crevices and slows erosion, as well as keeping the area cooler than the black asphalt, which decreases what is known as a “heat sink”. Heat sinks are the areas that are 1 to 2 degrees hotter than green spaces caused by black asphalt absorbing the light. The painted surface reflects the light causing the surface to remain cooler.

What is happening right now with this project? 

The Township has completed Phase 1 of this initiative. This included constructing the East People Garden at the top of the hill, the Razzle Dazzle structure by the harbour, and a sample roadwork. We are now evaluating the design in terms of its environmental effectiveness, as well as community reaction. The evaluation will be used to make modifications to the original site plan, as well as the 2 remaining people gardens, roadwork and pathways. These redesigns will be shared through a community engagement before construction of Phase 2 begins in September. The system needs to be tested through the spring thaw and run off in order to complete the project by the April 2018 deadline from GMF.