Revitalizing a signature urban park

Wentworth Park Upper Pond renovations underway, July 2009. The parks bandshell is being restored underneath the tarp.

SYDNEY, NS – After declining use and facilities crumbling for years, the initiative to revitalize Wentworth Park in Sydney began in 2004. As this work continues to progress, this park will once again be worthy of being called Sydney’s signature urban park.

Beginning in 2004, coinciding with the King’s Road realignment and the start of construction on “The Wentworth” condominiums, renovations on the lower pond of Wentworth Park began. The renovations included an improved, more natural looking retaining wall along the pond’s shore, improved pathways, monument restorations, a new elevated gazebo overlooking this section of the park, new fountains, and a new pedestrian underpass under King’s Road as part of a larger plan to connect the park to the Sydney Boardwalk on one side and Rotary Park on the other. This is also part of the larger Active Transportation plan for Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM), parts of which will be further explored in future articles.

After a couple of years of inactivity following the completion of the lower pond renovations, Phase two began in 2009 which consisted of several renovations to the upper pond of the park. These upper pond renovations included, once again, improved and more natural looking retaining wall shoreline along the pond, a new playground, improved pathways, a new pedestrian crossing of the upper pond, and restoration of the park’s band shell which has been an important landmark in the area for generations. The culverts which Wentworth Creek flows through were also upgraded in this phase. This upper pond section will be eventually connected to Rotary Park through the Active Transportation plan.

The band shell restoration will also serve to bring entertainment back to the park, a location which, in the past, hosted local concerts, small festivals, and dance recitals, among other things. Given the park’s prime location in downtown Sydney, the revitalization will go a long way towards making the area a more vibrant place to gather, live, and work. Some of this increased vibrancy has already been seen with the completion of the lower pond renovations.

The completion of the lower pond renovations saw the area become a popular park in the centre of the city once again, and the vibe is that the completion of the upper pond will have the same effect on the park as a whole. Work began in 2009 to connect the Boardwalk to Wentworth Park’s pedestrian underpass, which will only serve to make the park a more popular destination among locals and tourists alike.  This will increase pedestrian traffic in the downtown, and has already had a positive effect on the downtown businesses, with existing stores seeing an increase in traffic and new businesses opening up and becoming success stories all along Charlotte Street, the city’s main downtown business strip.

photo by Devin Keating

2 comments

  1. It’s nice to see a story about Sydney on Spacing Atlantic!

    While I think the renovation of the park is a good thing and well-overdue, this plan has been flawed from the start. This was a great opportunity for the city, but I must disagree with you about its overall success for the downtown. 

    the plan was produced and carried out by a landscaping company and I think it is evident in the “off-the-shelf” design. The renovation pays no attention to the history of the park in the city, has resulted in the removal of a series of beautiful mature trees, and has really hardened one of the few soft surfaces in the city. As well, in-fill around the bandshell seems like a big step backwards and the plan in general creates more of a sanitized, generic plaza, rather than revitalizing a park with historical and cultural significance to the region. 

    I’m also not so convinced that this will do much to encourage reinvestment in the downtown. For this to happen there needs to be a massive change in thinking in Sydney – people have to start be willing to live downtown and the city has to provide incentives for redevelopment of the existing fabric and housing stock.

  2. I’m very curious as to whether this park redesign includes a bike path that connects to a future network. I see the words “Active transportation” in the article, but… as of now, you’re not even allowed to bike on the boardwalk.

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