Breakwater Park is an existing park that was already endowed with outstanding park assets – mature trees, an attractive sequence of spaces between headlands and bays, a wonderful work of public art, pedestrian proximity to downtown and Queens University, and unobstructed long vistas to the Lake Ontario horizon. Despite these strong elements, the park was in need of revitalization after years of public use. Park infrastructure such as pathways, furniture, and shoreline access needed a boost to optimize the function and phenomenal experience of the park.
Breakwater Park re-opened in July 2018, after a three-part revitalization, renewing the connection between Lake Ontario and the community of Kingston, Ontario.
Part Three arose serendipitously while working on Parts One and Two. An observation of spontaneous swimming, sunning, and kite boarding by daring residents at the derelict pier just beyond the Breakwater Park limit hinted to some irresistible possibilities. The city’s Water Treatment Plant, which controlled the site and dock, agreed to a park transformation that would ultimately become the first deep water urban swimming pier in Canada, affectionately renamed after hometown Tragically Hip hero and Great Lakes advocate, Gord Downie.
Part One of the project comprised an upgrade of the existing Breakwater Park, to improve connectivity, add trees, ameliorate a half-kilometre long allée of century-old maples, widen pathways, install new furniture and lighting, as well as construct seating platforms next to the lake.
Part Two required a restoration of pebble beaches and erosion protection revetments along the park’s undulating shore. Originally built on lake-fill extending from a historic breakwater wall, Breakwater Park faces a long fetch off Lake Ontario, vulnerable to some of the windiest wave and shoreline conditions in the country.
The revitalized Breakwater Park and Gord Edgar Downie Pier have sparked a eureka moment in Kingston, reawakening a profound link with the water. The park’s phenomenal popularity attests to its promise for a magical encounter with the region’s most distinguished feature.
City of Kingston
Coldwater Consulting Limited, WSP Canada Inc., Harbourside Engineering Consultants
33 100 m2
National Award – Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) – Medium-scale public landscapes designed by Landscape Architect Category