Revised plan May 7, 2013
There is an exciting concept for the redevelopment of Port Stanley harbour which
has so far never been shown at any of the public meetings the Municipality of Central
Elgin has had on harbour visioning, yet it has been presented to Central Elgin.
When Port Stanley's harbour master, Scott Payne, started discussing ideas and showing
some of his concept sketches for redevelopment of Port Stanley harbour with Verne
Furber, owner of The Roxy Diner, it started the ball rolling for a harbour vision
that would truly turn Port Stanley into a destination of choice.
Discussions with business people with lifetimes of experience at turning a profit
and an urban planner (Ted Halwa) started the ideas flowing like water. Bert Dennis,
an architectural draftsman, took Payne's rough scotch-taped-together sketches and
turned them into a professionally drafted scale drawing.
"This is something that has to be done by a professional developer," Furber says.
"It's not a thing that can be done piece meal by Central Elgin. It requires a professional
developer with the expertise in harbour development. There's no point in having
Don Leitch do it; what does he know about harbour development?"
Now at this point you might want to open a second window on your computer screen
so you can flip back and forth between this article and the large size drawing of
Full Size View You might want to click your second window open to the 1920
screen size (click at the top of the screen) and scroll a bit so you can see all
of the details.
The plan focuses on the harbour being a recreational harbour that can still accommodate
the commercial fishing fleet and greatly expands on retail commercial opportunities.
It also narrows the width of Kettle Creek which speeds up the water flow. Faster
flowing water cuts a deeper channel and drops its suspended silt load farther out
into the lake, reducing dredging needs and costs.
East Side of Harbour
On the east side near Inn on the Harbour, the plan calls for the creation of two
fishermen's alcoves. This accommodated commercial fishing boats as well as up to
eight deep draft recreational boats that can't get under the bridge because of the
water - or larger sport fishing boats.
Condos are to be built backing onto the hill, currently owned by Dr. Busteed, between
Main Street and Little Beach. None of the access to the water is lost but the condos
will have terrific lake views. They may require the roadway being moved a bit to
the south to allow some rear yard space for the condos.
"You can't control consumers by having only five options and telling them to pick
one of the five," Furber said. "We don't have enough retail now. Have you ever been
to Niagara-on-the-Lake? The concept of having those direct-to-you stores; we need
to add 10 to 15 more retail stores here. These condos are to be built identical
to the one next to Mickey's, where you have retail stores on the ground floor. We
need another 25 retailers with imagination."
The existing berm becomes primarily a gated and fenced shipping compound for the
ferry. It shows lots of public parking, a boat ramp with dry dock and repair shop;
and volley ball, tennis courts and a food arcade on the Little Beach side.
There is also a road that leads to the new bridge which leads to the whole new area
created from dredged silt and constructed along the east breakwater. It is a land
reclamation project just like the one that created the existing berm. This one has
a new east marina with a 40-60 room hotel. It is bordered by an amusement park which
has a band shell facing out towards the lake, a splash pad and a winding water way
for inner tube rafting.
There is an entertainment park, and where the drawing shows a casino and a restaurant,
because that is prime waterfront, Ted Halwa suggests covered pavilions (like the
ones at Pinafore Park in St. Thomas) that can be used by the public and even booked
for family reunions and corporate events.
On the far west side of this new area is a ferry terminal and customs office, in
the event a ferry proposal is accepted. The new area also incorporates a lot of
public parking and the ferry terminal is the reason for the shipping terminal compound
on the existing berm.
West Side of the Harbour
The group suggests a small casino for the Olmstead building and adding a second
floor for administrative offices. New casino licences are generally granted only
to First Nations. We have no First Nations community in Central Elgin, but Furber
says there's no good reason why we can't invite a First Nations group to partner
with us in such a venture, as it would also be a good opportunity for them. "There's
always Native land claims and this might be one way to address some of those," Furber
Adding to that location for a small casino, Furber has an idea for the Richardson
grain silos/elevators that will turn them into an arts centre. There are a number
of places where silos of this type have been turned into condo apartments with retail
stores in the bottom, "but you might have to take down one or two of them because
of views." Furber suggests painting the silos brilliant tulip colours and putting
a building around them that is an arts studio in the centre with retail stores around
the outside edge. On the top of the silos a large 15 foot water pipe wand is installed
with a pumping mechanism (either in the water on the ground) to pump water from
the creek through the pipe to create a high, artificial waterfall that reaches out
over and past the walkway, dropping the water back into the creek. The top of the
silos is also the perfect place to install lights to produce a coloured light display
playing on the falling water. The concept also adds an observation deck all around
the top of the silos, with tables, chairs and umbrellas. This use of the Olmstead
building and the Richardson silos creates a unique and highly artistic tourist attraction
that allows for full public interaction.
It is also fully compatible with the Lakes Terminals domes and MNR areas being turned
into parking lots to service both Main Beach, the casino and arts centre, and the
new marina to be built along the east side of the west breakwater. The rebuilding
of the west breakwater (often called the pier) services the public desire to be
able to walk on it, and the new west marina.
The plan was presented to Central Elgin but the group has heard nothing back on
it. Councillor McNeil told them the municipality did not want to spend their $13
million. "They don't have to spend their $13 million," Furber said. "This isn't
the only concept. You get the right developer to spend the $20 million and be willing
to get their money back on it over 15 to 20 years. The developer will have plans
and ideas that have been determined as profit generating. That's how other waterfronts
in Ontario have been successfully developed, including the one in Collingwood."