Friday, January 31, 2014


Several years ago, the esteemed Jane Jacobs wrote a letter of support to a group fighting to prevent the destruction of heritage buildings in Port Dalhousie, part of St. Catharines. What followed was a story similar to that of the Bay Beach Property fiasco.

With the help of another OMB ruling in favour of the developers, the fight was all but lost. Again, it appeared that the mayor and some councillors were pushing for this development despite opposition from people in Port.

Flash Forward and now Port Dalhousie looks like a war zone.Demolition and neglect have all but destroyed a once thriving tourist and business area.

Finally, the council of St. Catharines has taken action but it remains to be seen if the "build it or sell" approach has any teeth. In 2009, when the OMB ruled in favour of the developer, there was a five year period in which construction must be completed. The developers ran into the same problems as the Molinaros, who were given the go-ahead by the OMB to build a twelve story condo tower on public waterfront land: they couldn't pre-sell enough units to secure financing. Of course the plan kept changing and misrepresentations abounded. 

At least we have only a neglected and ruined snack bar to worry about. The downtown core of Port Dalhousie is, as one councillor said, "a mess."  That is an understatement.

Read the article for yourself:

Then be sure to read the comments following the article. Many of the comments are from regular people who opposed Port Place because it was out of character with the rest of the village. For that, they have been called NIMBYs and worse. But Jane Jacobs thought their cause was a worthy one and, shortly before her death, advised the people to keep up the fight.

Like the Molinaro project, the Port Place project seemed to have died of its own hubris.

Further Background Information:

Candidates Repay Donated Money to Their Campaigns.

From the 2011 article:

"Regional Coun. Tim Rigby and St. Andrew's Coun. Matt Harris say they've each paid $750 back to Port Dalhousie developer Dan Raseta, and Port Dalhousie Coun. Len Stack said he paid back $1,500, after they realized they accepted multiple donations from the same group of companies. Regional Coun. Andy Petrowski said he paid $250 back."

So, they accepted donations from the Port Place developer and did not return the donations until they were advised by the developer's lawyer to pay them back to be "in compliance."

Does this not smell to high heaven? Can you still not understand why some developers hold sway over every level of government with total disregard for the wishes of the people?  Of course, there are good and proper developments all over the Niagara region, but the Port Dalhousie and Bay Beach projects were controversial from the very beginning.

Keep at it folks. There is a story here that is still to be revealed.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Budget Meeting last night: the audio is up on the town's website. Interested people should listen to the whole meeting, but I must point attention to the EDTC's request, through the Supplemental Budget for $150,000 to add to its reserve. Ward 3 Councillor Bob Steckley pointed out that the EDTC already has a reported $150,000 in its reserve fund. The request was denied. I repeat, an additional $150,000 of taxpayer money that was requested to top off the EDTC's Reserve Fund was voted down.

Others would have you believe that this is a sign of Armageddon and that "war has been declared" as a result of this saving for the taxpayers. So the "others" will continue their campaign against the four councillors by spreading their lies by word-of-mouth. 

If people really listen to the budget meeting, they will discover that the councillors are very concerned about the cost to the taxpayers for the additional funds requested. even Rick Shular gave a speech congratulating council for its good budget.  

The Jimmie. Jimmie! Show went on earlier at the Chamber of Commerce where Jim Thibert worked hard to blame the present council for all the failures of his Economic Development and Tourism Corporation.  Oh, those wetlands, how they bedevil and thwart all those great industries just hankering to come to Fort Erie.  And the council (cough-cough) who aren't team players.  Thibert wore his special outfit provided by the Thugs Are Us Tailor Shop to show how very serious he is about the state of Fort Erie. See it HERE.

Of course, earlier this week, we were treated to the Doug & Leslie Show.
AUDIO IS AVAILABLE: Click HERE and listen to audio of Special Meeting. She comes on toward the end.

Leslie North brought the crazy to council on Monday, January 27, 2014. She registered to speak on the supplemental budget, but that was merely a ruse to speak regarding the alleged intimidation of Fort Erie residents by a group that was formed to help keep the Bay Beach Properties in public hands.  She even mentioned "Virginia" before her remarks were cut off by the mayor as he attempted to keep her from going overboard in her remarks. Update: Leslie came to council alone, without her entourage of bullies. She attempted to come across as a "concerned citizen" when she is anything but. She is merely following the script sent to her by her puppetmasters; the ninjas were ordered to stay home. While she enjoyed a chance to air her "concerns" with the help of the mayor. it was obvious that Leslie was merely the Designated Hitter this week. She's sure to be back for another appearance as most of the others are unfit for public display.

But she did anyways. She claims that 50-60 (correction 40-50) people have been intimidated into silence by the Fort Erie Waterfront Preservation Association (FEWPA). Talk about projection. Does Leslie even realize what she is saying? She's part of a small group that has taken harassment to a whole new level. In fact, she bragged about her complaint to the Ombudsman about a private meeting held shortly after the election in 2010. That meeting was deemed NOT ILLEGAL by the Ombudsman, Andre Marin.  She said they got off "on a technicality." Leslie has been biting away at the ankles of the four councillors since they were elected and she claims that regular citizens are being harassed by FEWPA.  As far as I know, FEWPA has been very quietly working to help save the Bay Beach Properties from a high rise development. The people I know who are members are just concerned taxpayers, not thugs, hellbent on intimidating the local citizenry.

It's those yellow signs that have sent Leslie over the edge, especially the glut of signs that appeared in the Bridgeburg area of Fort Erie a few years ago. Of course, there are still some yellow signs around and one can assume, from Leslie's remarks, that people feel intimidated by their very presence on people's front lawns. Oh, be afraid; be very afraid - of Yellow Sign Fever. If afflicted, people become enraged that a few in town pushed to give away a prime piece of waterfront property to a high rise developer. The severely afflicted go as far as to believe that there was a side deal that was the incentive for the development push. 

So sorry, Leslie that you and your fifty friends feel so intimidated. There is a cure for that. It's called "Critical Thinking."  Shouldn't be hard for someone who claims to be "an accountant."  However, critical thinking is often blunted by association with uneducated wannabes who pride themselves on their hometown and homegrown prejudice. What Leslie was trying to bring forth, which is a constant meme in her friends' blathering on the internet, is that she and her followers blame Americans for everything that is wrong in Fort Erie. She fails to acknowledge that only Canadian citizens can vote in a municipal election and that those voters put the four councillors into office - along with two others and a mayor who won by a mere five votes.

Even the Mayor-by-Five-Votes couldn't prevent you from making a fool of yourself at council. He tried, but your were just too quick for him and you got in your slanderous accusations against FEWPA and the councillors.

You should be so proud of yourself. Hope the Boys buy you a drink - or three for your efforts.


St. Catharines council gives Port Dalhousie developers ultimatum.

In a village that faced similar problems to Crystal Beach regarding the building of a high rise development that made big promises to the people and failed to deliver, the mood is one of anger and frustration. Buildings were razed in anticipation of the development that had been green-lighted by the OMB (surprised? LOL) despite strong local opposition. Now the St. Catharines council has issued an ultimatum: build or sell.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


UPDATE: I received an unconfirmed report that the town workers will receive a raise to $35.00 per hour in their new contract proposal.

I believe that I can speak on the proposed strike by some Town of Fort Erie workers, having been employed by a labor union and as a graduate of Cornell University's Labor Studies Program.

The threat of a strike is one tool that unions use to impress on the employer that they need to come to the bargaining table with a better offer. According to an article from The Times's Sarah Ferguson. (Must be tough for her to report on the demands of full-time town employees who make $26.50 an hour when she barely making minimum wage.)  Unions will do that: get more money and better benefits for the employees whom they represent.

Of course, a lot of people call them greedy which is laughable in this day when bank executives and other high end corporate heads pocket millions of dollars while cheating the little guy down the food chain.  Is it greedy to demand better wages? No, I don't think so.  To actually go on strike is another matter altogether. I see that the union is asking for a conciliation officer to come in on the negotiations. Excellent idea. I was an observer of negotiations between the union I worked for as an organizer and the large company many years ago.  The negotiations broke down and a trigger happy local went out on strike, despite warnings from the international union to accept the settlement already accepted by every other bargaining unit in the company. We were out for seven, long and difficult months. What I learned is that any strike should be an absolute last resort and, if a strike takes place, it should end within a couple of days. Otherwise, it's a lose, lose situation. 

I do hope that the parties are able to come to an agreement soon.

Now, of course, the "others" have somehow managed to blame the four councillors for the strike threat. Such morons. Obviously, they know nothing about labour-management relations and negotiations.  But there's a lot they don't know about, especially what was going on in Fort Erie prior to 2010 when they finally decided to get in the game - that being hate blogging.  Prior to 2010, the town did a number of foolish things. We remember a pledge of close to $300,000 to the EDTC in order for it to pay a non-refundable deposit on the Fort Erie Race Track. And how did that work out? I hear that Rick Shular thinks this is a still stellar idea to save the race track. Huh?  Did I hear that right? 

Those of us who have good memories also remember that the town tried to sell off the north section of the Bay Beach Properties in order to fund a section of the Friendship Trail. A petition and the election of a young man who spearheaded the petition caused the then mayor, Wayne Redekop to re-think his stance on the property. In 2005, the council of the day voted to retain all the properties in the public's hands. It wasn't until shortly after the new mayor and council of 2006 chose to endorse Rino Mostacci's idea to get a developer to come in and submit proposals for the Bay Beach Properties that the issue came to the forefront again. As if all those people who signed the first petition in 2003 would suddenly go away and forget about the issue. Did not happen. Redekop later described the public owning of the properties as part of a "birthright" of the people of the town when he publicly urged council to rethink the deal it made with the Molinaros that would allow them to construct two (later scaled down to one) high rise towers on the public land fronting the public beach. 

Some things are worth fighting for and the preservation of the Bay Beach Properties as public land is a worthy fight. It has cost a lot of people a lot - not just money. Four councillors have been harassed and now sued for their stance on the property; I've been sued by the GM of the EDTC and harassed by numerous police "complaints" by the other bloggers and others have suffered through character assassination and wild rumours spread throughout town by these lowlifes.

And it all goes back to a piece of waterfront property, bought from the Rebstocks with the intention of turning it into a fine beachfront park. 

Just think of where this town would be if not for that. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Randi Rhodes said it with regard to the widening scandal in New Jersey: when there's local corruption, there's usually a development involved. As the investigative reporters have uncovered and which federal officials are now looking into is the connection between certain events in New Jersey that may be political retribution for those who did not support a couple of developments. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the former governor and his wife have been indicted for accepting expensive gifts from a developer. 

I recently watched the fine movie American Hustle. It is about a mayor being involved in a corrupt deal with with "developers" who were actually FBI agents - well not all of them.  The movie is actually based on a true story: the infamous ABSCAM scandal.

That's not to say that similar events have happened in this part of Canada.  

But is does make one wonder.  Please enjoy American Hustle. It's going to win a boatload of Academy Awards.

In other news:  Looks like Port Colborne is looking to preserve the shoreline and its sand dunes.

Another reason to be grateful we don't live in Toronto: Developer Bulldozes Historic School.

Oops. Developer gets demolition order streamlined. School was under consideration for heritage status. Gone. Sorry, folks. Not only is Toronto's mayor a raving drunk/drug user, but it looks like some at city hall may be on the "take."

Sunday, January 19, 2014


We all know that famous phrase from the Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy's dog Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal that the ominous sounding voice is none other than a small old man with a big megaphone and a way of projecting his face to larger-than-life.

Of course, Fort Erie has its own version of "the wizard."  Jim Thibert makes a grand entrance when he speaks at council and he speaks as though from on high.  He dazzles the low information residents of Fort Erie who hang on his every word as though it were gospel. He has taken his budget presentations to an art form all his own. The Thibert Treatment is rife with stats and accusations  towards anyone other than his arm's length corporation that is supposed to be in charge of economic development and tourism for Fort Erie.

But it's not and many of us are fully aware that it is merely Jim Thibert's personal fiefdom, heavily weighted in favour of a horse race track. Case in point: expensive brochure of a couple of years ago had glowing accounts of a marina on the Niagara Boulevard (dead in the water, now awaiting resurrection); a motor speedway (years away from completion); and the horse track (close to death for several years, saved only by massive amounts of money from slots/province). Missing from the brochure was the refurbished Point Abino Light Station and full information about the beaches - especially Bay Beach, part of the only public beach in Crystal Beach.  Oh, he did mention the high rise proposed for the public lands in Bay Beach. In light of the Molinaros walking away from the deal, that should give Thibert a trifecta of losing propositions for Fort Erie.

Sure, I have called for his firing. So have many others.  He has an abysmal track record (excuse the pun.)  Earlier this month, he chose to blame everyone else but his corporation for Fort Erie's downward slide: the province, unskilled workers, cross-border shopping, and the best: lack of leadership.  On the last, I can agree with him, except he was probably implying that the lack of leadership comes from four town councillors.  Except that leadership in a town is the onus of its mayor and Mayor Martin has displayed a decided lack of leadership as he struggles against those representing the will of the people who elected the councillors by wide margins. Certainly not like Martin who won by a mere five votes in 2010. 

And so, it came as no surprise when Don Lubberts reported to council a conversation he had with a local eye doctor who, with a partner is hoping to place his medical marijuana operation in the abandoned former Pharma plant on Jarvis Street. Some remember that Thibert's corporation was given thousands of dollars to find a suitable business to take over the plant. Nothing happened except that Pharma declared bankruptcy. Some may also recall that former Chamber of Commerce head Dick Dimberio declared bankruptcy for his Williams Gold, thus enabling the town to forgive over $35,000. in back property taxes. Lubberts reported that when Thibert's EDTC was approached originally by the doctor's group, Thibert opined that it was not a good fit for the building or the town.  He later expressed support for the proposal. Lubberts reported this so that it would go on record and the doctor expressly wanted the public to know that he was rebuffed by Thibert in the beginning.

Which begs the question: why would the general manager of the town's economic development and tourism corporation discourage any legitimate interest in a building that is now unused? Why would the head of the EDTC stand in front of council and complain about designated wetlands thwarting new commercial business developments and then discourage the interest in a perfectly good building?  Who are all these interested industrial clients who have been shut out of Fort Erie by the wetland designations? Thibert has been on this bandwagon for years and some people are gullible enough to buy this as the reason for the high unemployment and business loss in Fort Erie.  And then the  Horton's Steel site comes to mind, sitting there, mostly idle, awaiting an industrial business.  (Except when Sandy Annunziata was hot to turn it into a housing development. Good idea that. Not. Another of Sandy's accomplishments was to make sure that no high rise would be erected at the foot of Jarvis Street. Had to change the zoning for that, yet he voted to change zoning to allow the development of a high rise in Bay Beach - on public land.)

So how does Jim Thibert survive amongst the ruins of Fort Erie's economic climate? By virtue of his ego and his swagger. Oh, and by suing a blogger (me) for publishing "slander" against him.  Lance Armstrong successfully sued a writer for accusing him of taking steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. And then the truth came out.

Monday, January 13, 2014


From FORT ERIE TOWN COUNCIL January 13, 2014:

The Molinaros will remove their sales trailer ASAP (weather permitting)

The new budget will include funds to demolish the Bay Beach Snack Bar.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


It's really too bad that Fort Erie does not have investigative reporters like those in the Bergen County, NJ local press.  If it had not been for the work of a couple of dogged reporters and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, the scandal now known as "Bridgegate" might never have been exposed.  Governor Chris Christie, despite his denials, seems to be at the centre of what many term Retribution Politics.  This is something that many in Fort Erie are familiar with, having been on the receiving end of such a policy.

I am one. I was sued, with taxpayer money, because of comments published in my blog.  Normally, a politician or public figure ignores such opinions expressed in a blog, but not EDTC general manager Jim Thibert. No, he has to punish anyone who defies him e.g. Ann Marie Noyes, whom he called "delusional" in front of a packed house at council.  He also made a point to not invite her to the opening day of the Fort Erie Race Track that year.  Petty stuff that accomplished nothing. Chris Christie has long enjoyed a reputation for engaging in Retribution Politics and this time, it appears that he, or at least his minions, have gone way too far by closing two lanes of traffic from Fort Lee, New Jersey to the world's busiest bridge, the George Washington Bridge.  Latest speculation is that it may bring about the impeachment of Christie. It's a matter of "what did he know and when did he know it?"

The little community newspaper in Bergen County, the home of Fort Lee covered the story and found some interesting connections between the closure and a top official in the Port Authority - a high school friend and Christie appointee.  Then came the damning e-mails from Christie's chief of staff and the PA official.  Looks like it was planned around August 12, just after Christie had a melt down about  New Jersey Supreme Court nominations. He basically threatened the Democrats in New Jersey. 

There are many more stories in New Jersey (and sadly in Fort Erie) of Retribution Politics. Many have no idea the lengths that others have gone to destroy reputations, businesses and financial security.  And the cover-up of these activities is kept up through intimidation and fear tactics.  Confidential bank records have been breached; lies spread around town to besmirch the reputations of those in opposition to the status quo and even potentially harmful damage to vehicles of those who are working for a better community have taken place. 

Perhaps on Monday, when four councillors appear in court to answer to a trumped up charge by a former disgruntled (and now out of work town councillor) the truth will pour out. This case will be watched by many.  Hopefully, someone has the guts to write the truth about it.  But they shouldn't stop there.  They need to dig way deep into the finances (follow the money) and the associations.  Lots of questions can be asked. Most will have to be answered through deep digging.  Those who practice Retribution Politics insulate themselves behind a firewall. I think Christie thought he had a good firewall, but all it takes is one insider willing to talk and everything will come down. 

My blog received information provided by an insider in the local town government. Can't say who because I did not know. That person was protected by a firewall. In the suit against me - and Google, Thibert's lawyers sought to find out who was the person known as "The Bitch." They never found out but he was very anxious to find that out because he knew that the person was an insider.  I still hear from that insider but I no longer publish those comments. My "Deep Throat" is a true hero.

I do not possess the stamina to pursue this much further. I get a visceral reaction to evil.  And there is a lot of evil in this town. Hopefully, the good will prevail but it is up to everyone to investigate for themselves to find the truth.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


QUESTION: Did anyone else notice the similarity between Jim Thibert's budget presentation to council the other night and New Jersey governor Chris Christie's press conference on Thursday? All righty then.

Well, the Economic Development's self-proclaimed guru presented his corporation's budget tonight at town hall on Wednesday, January 8.

He did a brilliant job of laying the blame for Fort Erie's economic woes on everyone except him and the EDTC.

"If you're on food stamps, then you're not so smart," he said about anyone who can't get a job. (Thibert "hired and fired" many PhDs, doncha know?)There are plenty of jobs, according to Thibert, but no one has the skills necessary.  At one point, he launched into a pseudo-Chinese accent to make the point that his arm's length corporation is not an employment service. Yet he uses that argument to ask for more funds for his corporation. (Update: unemployment figures released on January 10 show a rise in unemployment all over Canada with Niagara topping the stats.) 

As time went on, Thibert slipped into his usual abrasive stance; he refused to answer a question from Councillor Bob Steckley and quickly engaged in his standard bully maneuvers.

"Jimmy, Jimmy" yelled the female voice coming from his cell phone mid-remark. Oops again. Hope it was his wife.

The Man-Who-Never-Apologizes repeated his insulting, profanity-laced remarks that some find so endearing. He tried (and succeeded - at least to the peanut gallery audience) that the problems his corporation faces are the fault of a council "without leadership." Translation for the uninformed: the "leader" of the town is the mayor. He is also the chair of the council. Oops, that would be Doug Martin, Thibert's BFF.

"If you don't like what the messenger is saying, then look in the mirror," concluded Jim Thibert.

Comments on the report were made after a short recess. The budget request will be brought up on the 29th for a vote.

Bob Steckley continued to question the large reserve of the EDTC in light of its supplemental budget request. Shular did not disappoint with his smorgasbord of word misuse.  Does he not know that he fails so often in shooting for the big words, only to use a close, but completely wrong word? 

Don Lubberts wants to have a thorough going over of the information which was just presented to council Wednesday. 

Thibert was certainly on this evening and he was able to bellow and bloviate his way through the session. 

Of course, the guy who dresses like a Mormon missionary saw his chance to throw in some electioneering by taking some cheap shots at other members of council.  BTW, where does he operate his business from? Can't find out.

Remember this? Courtesy of the EDTC?  Way to go! Then the mayor says that Fort Erie is "Closed for Business."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


OK. I admit it. There is something very provocative about watching and listening to a major storm, especially the local media coverage. This week's storm brings back memories of the Blizzard of '77 to us old-timers. Comparisons are always made to that Perfect Storm.  This one is just as fierce - at least from what I've seen and heard. Since I can only see from my windows (not taking my car out in this!) it looks nasty out there.  Again, the memories come back. In 1977, two of my brothers were Buffalo firefighters. Both remained on duty for days as it was "all hands" and some relievers could not make it in to work. Same with my friends at the telephone company.  Had a couple of overnight guests during that storm; workers sick of the cots provided at the nearby telephone office.  Luckily I had plenty of food on hand and a neighbour threw together an impromptu pot luck party that was a lot of fun.  However, others were not so lucky. There were many deaths. I certainly hope that this storm leaves no tragedies in its wake.

So, I tuned in a Buffalo AM station to listen to "Storm Porn."  I lapped it up (between frequent power outages.)  Maybe it's because this is truly a shared experience that it is so addictive. Maybe it's just the early stages of cabin fever. Whatever it is, I cannot turn away from it. I enjoy hearing about other people's experiences and challenges to get to work or home. In Western New York, most communities have instituted a driving ban. Let's hope that it is obeyed. Many times, fools venture out and run into problems, putting more stress on already overloaded emergency crews. Finally, the Sabres Game scheduled for tonight has been cancelled.  Took them most of the day to finally come to the realization that hockey fans would come out, despite warnings and danger, if there was a game. 

Another guilty pleasure is reading the other blog and watching the idjits losing their minds over the cancellation of the Bay Beach Project. (They have now jumped ahead in their Seven Stages of Grief to Anger.)  Attacks on me have progressed to the point that I'm somehow a suspect in the fire that destroyed a former councillor's house.  These guys do not understand that people other than themselves have sources of news.  Note to ninjas: I have actually worked as a writer/reporter/editor for a Buffalo community newspaper as well as freelanced for local publications here in Canada. Someone calls me with a news flash and I sometimes "cover it" as I did when Whitfield's house burned down.  BTW, what is the final determination about the fire?  The fire marshal certainly performed an intensive investigation into the fire.

Next Monday will be the court date for the four councillors. I have a feeling that the case will be dismissed.  Just a feeling. Talk about vexatious lawsuits. Doug Martin should be ashamed that he put together such a mean-spirited suit.  The mayor-by-five-votes is a poor loser; doesn't like having a council that doesn't follow in lock step. Despite the negativity directed at the four councillors, a lot of people still support them. In fact, the only complaint I hear is that the four did not come down hard enough on people like Jim Thibert from the get-go.

Oh well, back to Storm Porn.  Stay warm and well everyone!

Sunday, January 5, 2014


"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times ...," wrote Charles Dickens in his great novel "A Tale of Two Cities." Something about that line has stuck with me as it might describe two villages that are part of Fort Erie Township. Back before amalgamation in the late 1970s, Fort Erie proper, whose business area was dubbed Bridgeburg Station, and Crystal Beach were very separate entities. Each had its own character and demographics; each had its own council, budget and tax base. Crystal Beach, sandwiched in between Bertie Township which comprised Ridgeway and Bay Beach/Point Abino, was a very prosperous village because of its tax base provided by the Crystal Beach Amusement Park and its large percentage of seasonal home owners. These home owners, especially the ones who owned lakefront "cottages," paid high yearly taxes, yet most lived in the village for a just few months in the summer. Most were Americans, some cottage owners for several generations. 

Of course, we all know what happened in 1989: The Crystal Beach Amusement Park closed forever. We also know that the village of Crystal Beach, Bertie Township as well as Stevensville and Crescent Park were all part of the Township of Fort Erie which had assumed the treasuries and the taxes upon amalgamation.  Crystal Beach was pretty much set adrift after the amusement park closed. A couple of groups were formed to lobby for help for Crystal Beach which had been left devastated by the closure of the park. A developer seized the amusement park land for a song and built a gated community right in the heart of Crystal Beach. The rest of the area was red-lined so that few could afford to buy the now bargain basement homes available in The Beach.  A lifeline was thrown in 1996 in the form of a C.A.U.S.E. Study that recognized Crystal Beach as a "hidden gem."  The recommendations offered by the prestigious panel were a blue print for the future of The Beach. A template that was used later in a volunteer group brought together to write a neighbourhood plan for The Beach.  That award-winning neighbourhood plan gave specific recommendations regarding building height and the retention and acquisition of waterfront property. Many believed that the plan was very clear that there would be no private development of the former Rebstock Family owned Bay Beach Properties, bought by the town in 2001.

The C.A.U.S.E. recommendations and the Neighbourhood Plan of 2005 formed the basis for the opposition over the high rise project planned for the Bay Beach Properties' south, lakefront portion. 

Almost on cue, a group from what could be called Old Fort Erie decided to go after those who opposed the Molinaro Tower project. They put down everyone who was against the project and lumped everyone together as NIMBYs and blamed summer residents, mostly Americans, for stirring up trouble.  They're still at it even though the deal has now been canceled by the Molinaros.

Meanwhile, they fail to do anything about the blight and devastation in their own end of town. Jarvis Street looks like Crystal Beach did back in the 1990s. One of the idjits even made a video in an effort to disparage four councillors he disagreed with. The video showed empty store fronts on Jarvis Street - in fact, all through Old Fort Erie. Duh-oh. The only argument it represented is that Old Fort Erie is in a huge economic slump - hardly the fault of those opposed to one high rise at the other end of town.

Maybe the slump is due to the opposition to a privately-built truck bridge at that end of town. The Ambassador Bridge was quashed by the efforts of the so-called Peace Bridge Authority and certain council members and the mayor.  The PBA cited its exclusivity to the international corridor and presented a companion bridge plan that was quickly shelved once the threat of the Ambassador Bridge was killed.  Now that would have been a project that would have brought jobs and more jobs to the town. Oh well.

The point is that Crystal Beach is coming back stronger than ever. New builds; cottage rehabs and new businesses are changing the demographics and the face of Crystal Beach.  In the past couple of weeks alone, a new and very popular Chinese Restaurant has opened and the Fifth Annual Polar Bear Dip and Chili Cook-off brought out more people than last year. Fall brings the ever-popular 5K Walk/Run and, all summer long, The Beach is crowded with people. The Crystal Beach Business Improvement Association is a strong, diverse group that has moved The Beach ahead through hard work and organization. Members of the BIA do not all agree on the embattled Bay Beach Project, but they still work together for the betterment of the community. That is truly admirable.

Perhaps the anti-NIMBY crowd could put their efforts towards improving their end of town instead of attacking those who are expressing their opinion about a now defunct development project.  We're ready to move on. We have a lot of work ahead of us to prove that we were right about Bay Beach. We want to see our public waterfront land become an example of community spirit and co-operation to make it a great public space for generations to come.

Friday, January 3, 2014


OK. I promised to publish this picture when the planned tower on our public beach was no longer a threat.  Over two years ago, many gathered at a spaghetti dinner to support the  few brave people who filed a lawsuit against the project.  Too bad that the law suit was lost, just like the 13 OMB appeals and the petitions and the delegations to council and all the other ways that we tried to get  the town to stop its carpetbagging town planner from fulfilling his dream of high rises along the shore of Bay Beach. We kept at it though, through personal attacks and insults, through financial costs and lawsuits. Now it is done.

Let the dancing begin. One of the trio of dancers is no longer with us, but, wherever she is, I'll bet she's doing a happy dance.  Ironically,  it was the lack of interest and tough economic times that killed the tower plan.  The Molinaro sales team could only sell sixteen units, well below the forty-five required to continue with the agreement. As said by then acting CAO Rick Brady, referring to the December 31, 2013 drop dead date:

“It’s my understanding that this particular clause is a clause that was put in solely for the benefit of the buyer. Therefore, under those circumstances, no, it’s my understanding that there is 
no obligation for this council to consider this.” 

And so, the council voted 4-3 to deny an extension to the Molinaros. Despite being accused of not supporting the project, the present council voted to continue with the project in early 2010. The OMB decision did not bind the new council to the agreement which could have been rescinded. Instead, council voted to continue with the project. Although disappointed, most of those opposed to the project understood that the council had been warned of serious lawsuits that would be forthcoming if they did not support the project going forward.

Sure, Councillor Lubberts was relentless in asking questions about the project.  He even pointed out a serious mistake that was copied by then town attorney Heather Salter from documents she received (and apparently didn't vet) from the Molinaros. Lubberts also brought up many of the problems with the deal, and, to those who paid attention, it soon became apparent that the town was not going to gain much of anything from the project and was quickly losing the so-called "amenities" that were promised.

Then there was the problem with absolute title. The town bought the property from the Rebstock Family in 2001 without a proper title search. That particular oversight came back to cause problems when the town wanted to convey the property to the Molinaros.  I suspect that the decision from Land Titles will come down soon and it will not go as the town and the Molinaros hoped.  Perhaps the Molinaros had an inkling that the judgment would go against them; we may never know. We will soon find out if the town has absolute title to the lands or if the "private road" and a road allowance would cancel the developer's plans.

Hizzoner spoke on local radio Friday, presumably while enjoying the largess of a wealthy campaign donor in Florida, decrying those who were "anti-development" of course referring to those against the often-renamed project.  Remember the original iteration of the plan: "Aging in Place"?  What a joke that was. By the time it came to an end, it was called "The South Beach Project." So many attempts to market this beast. Truth is: no one wants to spend big money for a condo overlooking a public beach (and washrooms.)  Luckily, the beach was to remain public. (By the way, no one, including me, ever said that the beach would become private.)  However, the plans for the property were designed to make the public assume that the beach was private. Same with the parking lots.

We dodged a big bullet but we must learn from this close call. We need to make sure that nothing like this happens again to our public lands.  There was fierce opposition starting in 2002 when the town sought to sell off the north sections of the Bay Beach Properties. We thought it had been decided, in a 2005 vote, that the property, save one small area, would remain in public hands. Doug Martin never mentioned that he would look for ways to divest the town of the property when he ran in the mayoral election in 2006. Never said a word. Almost as soon as he was elected, the idea to send out invitations to developers came from then town planner Rino Mostacci as a way to "balance the books."  We saw through this lie and called them out on it.  Still they persisted, despite all the opposition. The Ward 5 councillor sold out for a taco and a pat on the head. She was clearly in conflict when she and her domestic partner opened a beach shop in a building on the Bay Beach Properties. She lost her re-election bid by large numbers. Same with Lame Duck Martin. Here he was an incumbent, which means a usual 30% advantage, yet he won by a mere five votes. Unheard of. And very suspicious. Especially when town officials are in charge of the voting.

Big election coming up in 2014. The gloves will be off and the four councillors will be prime targets of the "righteous ones" who brag that "they are always right." Bwah!  They can't even have a discussion with a supporter without resorting to name calling. They are so invested in their anger that they fail to see that others have valid opinions. That's right boys, insult someone who recently came to the area. Got news for you, fat boys: your demographic is on the wane (thankfully) and there are new people coming to Fort Erie who have no time or patience with this small town hypocrisy.  Go ahead, blame it all on the Americans. We're used to it. Been blamed for a lot over the century or so that Americans have owned property in Fort Erie and supported the local economy in big, big ways. Blamed while we paid property taxes for twelve months while living here for three months - never complaining. Yet, when the town was about to make a stupid move, when we spoke out against it, we were told we "have no right."

Two Words to that: F*#K YOU.

(End of rant)