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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  Letters Port Stanley, Shining Village by the Lake

September 21, 2018

It was a crisp and cold November afternoon in 2006 when my wife and I crossed the Ambassador Bridge into Ontario heading for a week in St. Thomas with the intention of possibly immigrating to Canada in the future. We had both just retired and had family ties in Canada. As we were driving on Hwy. 3 heading into St. Thomas, we saw the Ford factory on the left just as it was turning dark and beginning to snow. It was ironic that my Uncle Larry had designed the assembly line for this plant in 1967 and I thought of him as we passed by. As a retired Ford dealer and loan officer, I felt a tug at my heart. We arrived on Talbot Street at dark. We made a right on Hinks St. and noticed children playing in their yard. This was unheard of in our country. At the corner of Hinks and Wellington, I looked left and saw the Knox Presbyterian Church. I looked at my wife and said,"Honey, we're home". We drove to the Ramada Inn and saw young people sitting at a park bench laughing and having a good time in the snow. We checked in and the restaurant stayed open for us. This was our first taste of Canadian hospitality. After settling in and touring St. Thomas the next morning, we went to the Elgin Mall and I purchased a cell phone which I still have today. A very nice real estate lady approached us and invited us to tour homes in St. Thomas and Port Stanley. We looked at homes that week in St. Thomas and then we were invited to her home at the top of Brayside Drive on the cliffs overlooking Port Stanley. That was the very day my wife and I fell in love with Port Stanley. It was not quite the beautiful Port Stanley of today. It was largely a commercial fishing village. They were very few businesses, maybe four major restaurants and the roads and sidewalks were in terrible shape. The town looked neglected and lonely.

Having experience as a real estate broker, I realized the possibilities of Port Stanley becoming a reborn destination community because of the lake shore and the beaches. Unbeknownst to us, Port Stanley had been a destination community since 1926 when the Stanley Beach Casino was built. Every summer, thousands of people drove to the beach, the casino and eventually the Stork Club. Edith Cavell Blvd. was a very, very busy place, hence the term "quaint and modest" never applied to Port Stanley. It was always a prosperous, bustling destination for thousands every summer weekend. This is the reason and the only reason that Port Stanley has succeeded. In the year 1833, the harbour at Port launched the first steamship round-trip visit to Buffalo, N.Y. In 1840, the commercial fishing enterprises were established. The commercial habour had numerous cruise boats on Lake Erie between the '30's and '50' providing a stable and vigorous economy for the Port residents.

Circa 2008, a retired military man and numerous Port residents formed the Village Association. It so happened that one of this military officer's last government assignments was on the Privy Council of the liberal government of Jean Chretien in Ottawa. He also served as a temporary six month replacement for the Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister. This man now serves as a Ward 1 Councilor, Central Elgin. His knowledge of government regulations has helped Port Stanley to secure the habour and funds for its development. The current Central Elgin Council has many highly educated and knowledgeable members and has done a stellar job for the last eight years.

The key to Port Stanley's future is planned growth. Single family homes off of George St. and East Road will provide young to middle aged families opportunities to live in and enjoy. Port Stanley. Schools will benefit and increased tax revenue from over 350 homes will put Port in a viable financial position. If it stops growing, the community will run the risk of financial decline and possible bankruptcy. The reason this statement is so strongly worded is the fact that the habour by federal law has to be dredged approximately every four to five years at a cost to the village of $2,000,000 from its tax revenues. This action has to happen for ecological reasons in order to prevent Kettle Creek from flooding and becoming polluted.

Port Stanley has some serious problems that need to be addressed by planned growth. There are no year round rental properties available that aren't at least 50 years old and at this time, none are available. It took us two years to find a rental that had to be almost totally renovated to code largely at our expense. It cost thousands of dollars and due to its location, we had to leave last year. We are now going to live in St. Thomas half the year and wait anxiously for the two new apartment buildings that will be built off George St. After a lengthy conversation with local officials, I found out that none of the local workers in the businesses can afford to live in Port, except very few who have been here for years. There is a dire need for reasonable new housing for the average person, families and seniors. On this score, Port Stanley comes up with a zero. The average rental for a summer cottage is $750.00 a week.

We believe the current Council and Mayor are on the right track. They are highly educated and experienced and have seen Port Stanley through tough times and are dedicated to planned expansion of single family housing and rental apartments. They have acted in the most professional manner possible and are under extreme pressure to bring Port back to its days of being the finest destination town by the Lake.

In regard to the job the Council has been doing, in the words of Bert Lance, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

(Margaret Kipp)

Last Updated: Friday, 21 September 2018 14:02:16 PM EST

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