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2013 Local News Makers
  by Francie Dennison  
 Ontario Names Paul Martin as Special Advisor
 Certificates of Appreciation
 $75,000 in Fines for Importing Live Asian Carp
 Trax On Duty Tomorrow
 One Step At A Time
 $72,500 in Fines for Illegal Activities at Lodge
 Objection Raised to Gun Club Noise
 Let Active Elgin Keep Active and Stay Healthy
 Frozen Shark in Port Stanley
 STEGH Opens New Mental Health Care Program
 Port Stanley Harbour Risk Assessment
 KCCA Tree Planting Program
 Eating Disorders Awareness Week
 Quit Smoking to Win a Car or Cash
 2nd Cold Weather Alert Issued for Elgin County
 $2,000 in Fines for Illegal Deer Hunt
 Winter Gala on Ice
 2013 Local News Makers 
 Greetings from Uganda
 Floral Center Piece Winner
 Taxes Could Go Up 4 Percent or More
 Missing Person Jeffrey THORNE
 MV RHEA Bell Given Permanent Home
 Port Burwell Public School Children
 Flood Outlook Statement Issued

Vying for top spot in Port Stanley as the local news maker of 2013 were the institution of paid parking at the beach and the proposed creation of a new Heritage Conservation District. In the rest of Central Elgin, Prespa's Lynhurst infilling and the Eastwood Servicing Project duked it out for top spot.

The Municipality of Central Elgin instituted its paid parking at the beach by the 2013 Victoria Day weekend, turning the west side of the harbour lands which they had purchased into a giant paid parking lot (that got almost no use during the entire season) and getting some of the private landowners in the main beach area to agree to turning their land into a paid parking lot. The implementation was not without its hiccups, from people being issued parking tickets in unmarked areas of the village to a lack of machines to provide change for the parking meters (and sometimes ticketed while trying to find a spot to get change for the machines). As well, there were grading issues with people becoming stuck in mud after a rain, and the "Lake Boardwalk" which occurs after every heavy rainfall and floods out a large section of the municipal parking lot by Mackies, as well as a large part of Mackies parking lot, remains and unresolved inadequate drainage issue. The municipality made about 30 percent of the revenue they expected to make, but that net profit did not include the cost of the lifeguards.

Weather played a major role in Port Stanley's fortunes again this year. It was unusually cold and wet, significantly reducing the number of visitors to Port throughout the spring and fall, and much of the summer. One thing was particularly noticeable - no traffic jams from any large and sudden one day influx of beach visitors. Other than parking, traffic issues were moot.

The institution of a Heritage Conservation District, proposed by the Port Stanley BIA, the Port Stanley Village Association and Heritage Port - who together represent less than 20 per cent of the village's population - has also met with stiff opposition from the normally "silent" majority. Originally suggested just for the downtown business district on Main and Bridge Streets, it was expanded to include the entire harbour area, all of William, Maud, Bessie, Erie, Lotus Lane, part of Edith Cavell, Colonel Bostwick, Hetty Street, and Colborne down to Foodland. That "expansion" stuck a sword into the side of the sleeping dragon and the proponents have had to scale back the size of the area requested for designation closer to the original proposal. It still has to pass council and there is still strong opposition. The silent majority is getting suspicious and beginning to ask who will personally profit from this proposal.

Deputy Mayor David Marr's concept of using Selbourne Park as the location for a new fire hall in Port Stanley also generated some backlash from the silent majority, giving it the number three spot for news maker of the year. Locally, fourth spot goes to lack of news and lack of any real development on Port Stanley harbour. The harbour and its approach remain undredged. The west and east breakwaters continue to deteriorate with no public access to the "pier" being restored. The west harbour has been turned into nothing more than a giant and ugly parking lot. The east harbour and berm areas remain untouched other than having most of the access to them blocked off. The harbour now looks worse and is less accessible than when it was under Transport Canada's care, and no viable business plan for harbour development has yet been put forward by the municipality.

Broadening our scope to include the entire municipality, Lynhurst residents fought hard against the proposed Prespa Construction infilling plan of condominium for their area and lost. Though it will dramatically change the nature of that neighbourhood, the council of the day ultimately sided with the developer. Eastwood residents in the Centennial Ave area also fought against being forced to hook up to new sewers being installed in their area, at a time when provincial grant funding to help offset some of the costs for these residents had dried up, unlike earlier stages of the project. Citing they were not experiencing septic system failures, they asked the project be delayed until grant funding for it again became available. Council proceeded with the project's timing despite the residents' objections and the residents' association engaged the services of a lawyer. That issue still has not yet played out to its full conclusion.

2013 - a year of little progress but lots of controversy.


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