Bingo Funding Invaluable in Construction of Charles Ansell Gateway Park
Bingo Funding Invaluable in 20 Year Construction of Charles Ansell Gateway Park by the Rotary Club of St. Catharines Lakeshore
First announced in April 1997 by the Rotary Club of St. Catharines Lakeshore, the Charles Ansell Gateway Park was designed to honour Charles Ansell (the founder of Port Weller Dry Docks); to celebrate the Marine heritage of Niagara; and to showcase the Welland Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Located at the Port Weller Terminus of the Welland Canal, near the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Bunting Road, the three acre (1.25 hectare) park site borders the west side of the canal adjoining Lock One and overlooks the Port Weller shipyard. The overall estimated value of the Gateway project as outlined at the time exceeded $400,000. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of St. Catharines Lakeshore in association with Port Weller Dry Docks and the assistance of its union members, the Park links with the popular Welland Canals Parkway and Trail presently extending to Thorold. The project was planned on a series of five-year stages to accommodate financial donations and in-kind volunteer services and materials.
In the early stages, and indeed over the 20-year history of the project, funds raised through Bingo have proven invaluable in allowing the Rotary Club of St. Catharines Lakeshore to jumpstart and continue funding the construction of the Charles Ansell Gateway Park over its 20-year history. In the year 2000, approximately the $60,000 was required to begin the initial phase of construction: The Parking Lot. The Club’s ability to bring $5108 from its Bingo Account to bear (along $11,400 raised from Break Open tickets and $8,000 from Rotary Club of St. Catharines 1999-2000 General Funds), in no small part convinced the City of St. Catharines to loan the Club the $25,500 required to complete that phase.
Later on, during construction phase 2, the Club raised a total of $30,000 in Bingo funds from 2007 to 2012 and was able to apply $22,000 of that amount to funding park fencing, lighting, landscaping including a viewing area, planting beds and more. Depending on the phase and the need, gaming funds have helped the Rotary Club of St. Catharines Lakeshore keep the park moving forward, while still supporting other charitable efforts across St. Catharines. The Tulips have been funded through Bingo in the current year.
The Park itself first began to take form in the spring of 1999 with the installation of sewer and water services across Bunting Road and under a new parking lot to be installed on the site, all in coordination with the Region’s work on Bunting Road that summer. The City of St. Catharines had a lease for the Parkway Trail from the St. Lawrence Seaway at the time but for not the parking and operational area to be incorporated into the proposed Park site. It may also be a surprise to some readers today but the Lock Approach wall was not fenced at the time, and many local residents will remember the thrill of standing on that wall and putting a hand on the side of a Great Lakes freighter as it slid by out of the lock on its way to “climbing the Mountain” in Thorold.
After several months of negotiations with the Seaway, and with the support of Alan Thoms of the Port Weller Dry Docks and The City of St. Catharines Parks Dept., a site plan was established including a lease extension to cover the property at Lock One. The Seaway was pleased with the fence in the park plan that would keep the public away from the edge of the approach wall, putting the end to that familiar hands-on experience just outlined. St. Catharines city council endorsed park plans and also approved $30,000 for the provision of the sanitary sewer and water services. City of St. Catharines, Niagara Region, and St. Lawrence Seaway engineers and planners developed plans in conjunction with the Rotary Club Ansell Park Committee. On May 10, 2000, the Gateway site was officially opened with a sign unveiling and presentations held at the park location.