Architect ‘floats’ legacy project idea

Riverwalk 24/7/365 would appeal to variety of audiences

David Lavender, a local architect with an international practice, is proposing a legacy project for Sarnia, one that includes a focus on the waterfront, with emphasis on the history of indigenous people and the area's petrochemical heritage.

A local architect with international experience is urging the Sarnia community to embrace a concept he says could become a legacy project that would serve as a celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary as well as a magnet for tourism.

David Lavender envisions the estimated $2-million project—which he calls Riverwalk 24/7/365 in reference to its availability any time of the day, all year long—as a cooperative effort from a number of potential funders.

He came up with the estimate after consulting with professionals who are familiar with the technical aspects of shoreline construction.

In the concept, an existing walkway on the Point Lands, would be extended south into the Sarnia Bay. It would end at a tubular stainless steel pavilion, complete with an eternal flame.

The design, said Lavender, is a reference to the summer wigwam homes of the area’s indigenous people, with the flame being a tribute of sorts to the existence of Chemical Valley.

“We have three major things in play here,” said Lavender. “The river, the petrochemical industry and the Aamjiwnaang First Nation,” he added. “Put those focus points together in this place and you have a spectacular vantage point from which to stare down Great Lakes freighters as they turn toward Lake Huron.”

Several opportunities for funding already exist, he said. “There are funds earmarked for the Canada 150 celebrations, but also for Sarnia’s 100 year legacy project as well as potential sources of funds from a variety of sources that could be persuaded to get involved.”

Lavender said he has received “nothing but positive reactions” from many of the people he has spoken with about the idea.

One of those is Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, who told Lambton Shield that he welcomed ideas like Lavender has brought forward.

“There has not been a significant iconic landmark waterfront project since the Sarnia Bay Marina and Dow People Place were developed,” said Bradley.

Bradley has encouraged Lavender to speak to Sarnia City Council about the idea. Lavender is pursuing that, although he is not yet certain which of the two dates in May (the 9th or the 30th) that he will be on the agenda.

Tourism Sarnia-Lambton has come out in support of the project, which it did after Lavender presented the idea.

“RiverWalk Pavilion is both a place of repose and an iconic landmark commemorating the contribution of Sarnia to Canada that will be enjoyed by our local residents and visitors alike,” said Marlene Wood, general manager for Tourism Sarnia Lambton.

Lavender welcomes comments and conversation about the idea. He can be reached at info@davidlavenderarchitect.com.

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