Thursday, May 29, 2014


I was pulled over by the nicest Niagara Police Officer I have ever encountered.

But, enough of that. I was on my way to see if the Molinaro sign was really down and if they left behind the frame for the sign. (They did.) I was also on my way to attend a "secret meeting" at Shirley Grace's. LOL Those plans were derailed by the fact that I had to take care of the results of procrastination and lack of funds. 

Today, I finally got to see the council meeting where the four rolled over the three to finally give their supporters and many others in town what we wanted all these years: no private development on the south side of the Bay Beach Properties. Whew. It took a lot of work by a lot of people to bring this about. It was an uphill battle to get the town to listen. Petitions, signs, OMB appeals, lawsuits and finally a hotly contested election was still not enough. It took the added insult of Conflict of Interest lawsuits hatched by Mayor Martin and Jim Thibert to push the four councillors over the edge. And they came back with a vengeance. Dispensing with the usual ruled of procedure, they voted and passed a motion:

THAT: No further consideration shall be given to a possible private residential development on the Bay Beach uplands located on the south side of Erie Road, and further

THAT: The Bay Beach uplands located on the south side of Erie Road shall no longer be marketed for sale. 

And certain people around town blew a gasket and the whinging began in earnest. Poor losers that they were, they continued the personal attacks on the councillors and anyone who supported them.  How very typical of them. They are truly the "Mean Girls" of Fort Erie.

Let's not dwell on the negative; too much of that has been done already.  Let's look forward to a happy, healthy and prosperous tourist season for the town.

Wouldn't it be great if Crystal Beach got one of these? Record number of beaches win Blue Flag certification.

MORE GOOD NEWS: Nigh's Chocolate to open summer satellite in Crystal Beach! See Facebook announcement by Phil Smith.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


The Bay Beach Properties (at least the south portion) are safe from sale or development until at least after the Municipal Election on October 27.

That is thanks to a bold move by four councillors on Fort Erie Town Council on Monday, May 26, 2014.

They used their power to push through a motion that protects our public beachfront property. Don Lubberts brought forth the motion:

THAT: No further consideration shall be given to a possible private residential development on the Bay Beach uplands located on the south side of Erie Road, and further

THAT: The Bay Beach uplands located on the south side of Erie Road shall no longer be marketed for sale. 

(Carried with Steckley, Hill, Lubberts and Collard voting in favour)

The built up to the vote was the best part of the evening for those of us who sat through years of being ignored by town council over the fate of the Bay Beach Properties. The audio is available now on the town website. It's short, so enjoy listening to Martin bluster and Passero doing his best Eddie Haskell impersonation.

As if they knew it was now safe on Bay Beach, the Fowler's Toads have reappeared!  About fifty toads were spotted along Bay Beach and toad tracks were seen at the public beach. While others make fun of our concern over the Fowler's Toads, they may not be aware that the endangered species acts as a indicator of a beach's overall general health.  It is very important that the Fowler's Toads are allowed to flourish and share the beach with us. They were in great danger if the Molinaro Project was to continue. Their natural habitat at Bay Beach would have been destroyed during the construction. The MNR did sign off by allowing the plan to include a Toad Habitat on the property, but most believe that would have not worked.

So, the toads and the people will have the run of the public beach, thanks to the courage of the four councillors. Brave, because they have endured almost savage attacks since they were clearly elected in the election of 2010.  Compliance audits, conflict of interest lawsuits, bad press, stalking, phony police reports, and the venal ministrations of a group of sore losers from the north end of town have been done to thwart the four from doing what they were elected to do: represent the people whose voices were ignored by the previous council.

MORE GOOD NEWS:  The Molinaro Billboard sign at Bay Beach has come down and the sales trailer will be removed, according to CAO Tom Kuchyt, by June 14.

The voters need to show their gratitude to them for the saving of our public beachfront property on October 27.

Monday, May 26, 2014


The shutters are coming down; lawns and gardens are being spruced up; and snowbirds have returned from warmer climes.  Yes, it's the beginning of the summer season in Crystal Beach and all over North America in fact.

Visitors are now greeted with colourful bicycles all pointing in the direction of our great public beach. Like this one on Ridgeway Road, they are the brainchild of the award-winning Crystal Beach Beautification Committee. On Friday the Thirteenth of June (and Saturday) The South Coast Cookhouse will sponsor a Crystal Beach Bicycle Night. Check it out on South Coast's Facebook page.

A lot has happened over the past few months. Many of us are relieved that the Molinaros have decided to pull up stakes on their hotly contested high rise on our public waterfront property. That project brought out the best and the worst in everyone and its ramifications are still being felt as the Molinaros move on. It must be said here that the fight was never directly with the developers; it was with the planning department and the mayor over the proposed P3 agreement that would see the last good public beach front land be developed into a twelve story building. Many of us are opposed to any high rises on the beachfront, especially ones on public waterfront land.

So, the property will remain in public hands for now, but we are well aware that there may be other plans for this property to be developed. Cripes, you'd think it was the only property in town worth developing the way some go on about how people standing up to protect a legacy will drive everyone else away.  Marz Homes has built a model home for its development on Ridgeway Road on what was once the amusement park's arena and parking lot and there are other developments about to break ground in the beach.  Lots of building and renos going on all over the beach and there is a brisk business in homes sales. It seems that people from outside Crystal Beach, mainly the GTA, are discovering our little hidden gem and are buying up reasonably priced homes and moving/retiring to Canada's South Coast.

We're still waiting to see if our endangered Fowler's Toads reappear in Bay Beach. Some have been spotted on Point Abino.  The toads figured prominently in the fight to save the Bay Beach Properties from development. Their natural habitat would have been destroyed with construction of the condo tower - even with the area to be set aside for their home.

You might notice that something is missing from Bay Beach this year: the Bay Beach Snack Bar is no more.  The eyesore that was once run by a cheese smuggler has taken a well-deserved dirt nap, thankfully before anyone was injured by the monument to engineered blight that adorned the beach.  The Lobster House still stands and there are proposals for its use as it has been deemed "solid" at this time. Parking lots remain and the Park and Display machines will be used again this summer.

At the May 26 Regular Council Meeting, town planner Rick Brady advised that the Molinaro Sales Trailer would be removed from the Bay Beach Properties by June 14. 

Oh, and over the winter, we had a phenomenon happen down near the Waterfront Park. Ice caves were formed as shove ice built up over the freezing cold winter. Quite rare so close to shore. Thousands of people visited. Never so much traffic coming into Crystal beach since the days when the amusement park was going strong.  

So, Welcome Back everyone.  May you have a safe, happy and healthy summer in the best beach town in Canada.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Long-time conflict-challenged Martha Lockwood has come alive to report her findings regarding the Bay Beach situation on that Facebook group commandeered by the ninjas:

"Steve you said in a previous post that the Molinarosstill owned the area used for 

parking along Erie Road. That is true for now. They are in the midst of selling it

 and are concentrating their efforts in areas that welcome them. Interestingly enough 

in the midst of all of the sabotage of the Crystal Beach project, Mayor Vance 

Badaway invited them to Port Colborne to show them areas of their waterfront he 

would love developed (see Nickel Beach). Its amazing how some communities have

vision and others do not. It will be a long time before anyone is interested in investing 

significant amount of money in this area."

Oh, Martha, getting careless with the truth, again are you? Are you enjoying putting down the

people of Fort Erie who did not want a high rise on public beach front property?  And where did

you get this inside information?  Still hanging onto the Molinaros?  Vance Badaway has never 

invited the Molinaros to look into developing Nickle Beach. Port Colborne recently received 

word that a major grant will be given to Nickle Beach in order to renew the sand dunes which 

could result in a coveted Blue Flag designation.  There is fierce opposition in Port Colborne 

to any high rise buildings along its waterfront. In fact, some are lamenting the four story condo 

apartment building that was built on the waterfront several years ago.  Townspeople have 

vowed that will never happen again on the Port waterfront.

So the "vision" that Martha is talking about going on in Port Colborne is exactly what should be 

going on in Fort Erie.  

Just this past week in Port Colborne, The Elm Street Naturalization Park officially opened

its first phase: a leash-free dog park drawing visitors and their canine friends. It is all part

of a 24 hectare park being developed by the Niagara Region on the former site of the Elm

Street Landfill and Organics Composting. I doubt if its economic impact was part of the 

consideration to ask for the support for the parkland. Port Colborne manages to blend public 

parks with businesses and established residences.  It can be done with smart planning.

Perhaps Martha should keep herself out of the limelight. She can still be sued for conflict of 

interest for her votes on the Bay Beach Issue while her domestic partner had a direct pecuniary 

interest in the Bay Beach snackbar/tee shirt shop. Some of us still remember her support of 

cheese smuggler Bernie Polino as he grabbed the snack bar lease from the long-time lessee, 

Charley Boy's.

(Editor's Note: In all honesty,  I really pushed hard for someone to file suit against her, but those 

who could deferred, thinking that was not the best strategy. The knowledge of Martha's other 

lies cost her the voters' trust and she lost the election in 2010. Even then, she filed for a 

compliance audit against the man who beat her in the election: Don Lubberts. This produced 

nothing and cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars.)

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Members of the three BIAs, Committee of Adjustment, Property Standards and Library Board are responsible for their own legal expenses if they are sued for conflict of interest.

This information went on public record as a result of the discussion around a motion brought forth by Paul Collard requesting that the town front the legal expenses of Ward 5 Councillor Don Lubberts in the latest conflict of interest suit filed this time by EDTC GM Jim Thibert. Lubberts and three other councillors are currently facing a conflict of interest suit filed by former councillor Tim Whitfield.  A decision on that should be coming within the next couple of weeks. So far, it has been reported that the four have incurred $150,000. in legal expenses in the case.

The latest suit accuses Councillor Lubberts of conflict of interest in the ongoing discussion of a controversial purchase of vacant industrial land by the town. Lubberts has openly opposed the proposal, calling it "bonusing" in order to abet the proposed purchase of the Fort Erie Race Track by an interested group.  The 14 acre property now belongs to Nordic El-Ad which owns the race track land and other properties.  It is thought that the town purchase of the vacant land would enhance the deal for the race track. This is what many believe falls under the definition of bonusing.

It's just another case of "malicious prosecution" by Thibert, Councillor Lubberts was served with papers just before the May 12 council meeting.  

"Guilty until you prove yourself innocent" (Paul Collard)

Based on that opinion, Ward 6 Councillor Paul Collard brought forth a motion in the May 20 Council in Committee Meeting that the town cover Lubberts' legal expenses. Collard requested that By-Law 199.93 be amended to reflect the change.  Collard also wanted the same such coverage for volunteer members of boards who are "affected by this policy." Later in the discussion, Town Clerk Carolyn Kett clarified those committees that have "decision making powers" and, as such, are liable to the conflict-of-interest policy. Kett listed the three Business Improvement Areas: Bridgeburg, Ridgeway and Crystal Beach, Committee of Adjustment, Property Standards and the Library Board as falling under the COI regulations.

Unfortunately the discussion predictably fell to this individual case and the rift on council was once more highlighted with both Mayor Martin and Councillor Rick Shular implying that Lubberts was in conflict. Shular stuck to his usual choice of words: "I will not support this predicated on this case and its merits."  Martin added that "The warnings were there and I believe that no action was taken."  Passero merely fudged the truth by saying that the matter was "dropped in our laps about 5:55 p.m." 

Of course the motion was defeated as Lubberts could not vote and it was a 3-3 tie which is defeated by default.

Now, a little to the back story: David Kompson who figures prominently in the scenario presented in the suit, was not aware that he was so honoured until after the papers were filed. This is all Thibert and Martin's doing, just as Martin figured prominently in the suit against the four councillors.

The various lawsuits and legal actions have cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. For instance, Jim Thibert's action against me for slander cost the taxpayers in excess of $20,000. It accomplished nothing. If the case against the four councillors goes against Tim Whitfield (acting as a proxy for the Mayor Martin and others,) the town insurance kicks in. It will ultimately cost the taxpayers for this lawsuit.

This is a personal grudge being played out at the taxpayers' expense.


Today is a great day for residents and visitors to enjoy Ridgeway and Crystal Beach as exciting things are happening.

BBQ at Joe's Valu-Mart to fund the newly formed Ridgeway Beautification Committee. Already Ridge Road has received some sprucing up and the groups has more plans as the summer goes on.


Sponsored by the Ridgeway BIA

Crystal Beach is alive with garage sales and returning summer residents.  People are already enjoying the public beach at Bay Beach. Tremendous plans by the Crystal Beach BIA upcoming. 

Keep Friday, June 13 open for what is becoming a welcome event that may soon rival the doings in Port Dover - except with bicycles. Look for the decorated bicycles coming soon to the area.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


My Editorial Assistant, Harley does not understand that I have things to write on this blog.

The "vacant" industrial property that belongs to racetrack owner Nordic El-Ad is on the docket to be bought by the Town of Fort Erie using taxpayer money. The purchase is being brokered by David Kompson who, according to a Niagara This Week article, "is a longtime ally of both Thibert and mayor Doug Martin."

Why does the town want to buy the 14 acres of land on Industrial Drive with taxpayer money? Presumably to "sweeten the deal" with a potential buyer who may or may not be represented by David Kompson. In his frustration over the reluctance of Councillor Don Lubberts and others to enter into such an agreement, Thibert recently filed a Conflict of Interest lawsuit against Councillor Lubberts that may or may not be based on information from David Kompson.  

Is this another taxpayer-funded lawsuit started by Thibert to settle a personal grudge?  Seems like it.

There needs to be a real shake-up at town hall, starting with the EDTC being repatriated to town hall as a department directly answerable to council. And throw in the Wellness (under investigation due to a quarter of a million dollar embezzlement from Bridges)  and Gaming Departments under Russ Wilson.  

Geeze. What a mess. 

Friday, May 9, 2014


At the Monday, May 5 meeting of Fort Erie's Council in Committee, the spectre of the OMB figured large in the discussion - not as a possible solution to a problem between the planning department and nearby residents of a proposed town house complex on a three acre parcel of land on Rebstock Road in Crystal Beach, but as a threat of expensive costs to fight what is, according to Councillor Stephen Passero, something that  "...will pass at the OMB...."  That's the title of an article by James Culic in Niagara This Week, Fort Erie on track for OMB fight with itself.  While it is true that the OMB has redefined itself as a tool for developers, it is supposedly there to settle differences in a community over zoning and land issues.  Of course, its track record says otherwise and some forward thinkers have called for its demise. But that won't happen as developers are often big campaign supporters for like-minded candidates.

Speaking of which, Ed Lenchyshyn, the president of the developer, Park Lane Homes is a long-time financial supporter of Mayor Doug Martin. A look at the financials of Martin's mayoral campaign donations lists Ed or Park Lane Homes as backers. 

So, I asked myself this question: could this be interpreted as a Conflict of Interest for Martin to be involved in the discussion and vote for the zoning changes recommended by town staff? So, I went to the Integrity Commissioner's website. Here is what it says:

Q5: What are the conflict of interest rules for current public servants?
Ontario Regulation 381/07 specifies the prohibited activities that could put a public servant at risk of a conflict of interest. Conflict of interest rules for current public servants prohibit them from engaging in the following activities:
  • Using their positions to benefit themselves, their spouses or their children
  • Accepting gifts
  • Disclosing confidential information
  • Giving preferential treatment
  • Hiring their spouses, children, parents or siblings
  • Engaging in outside activities that conflict with their public service duties
  • Making personal use of government resources
  • Participating in decision-making where they could benefit from the result
  • Acquiring financial interests related to their duties as public servants.
The regulation also includes requirements for public servants involved in matters that might involve the private sector, as well as rules for former public servants.

Ed Lenchyshyn has often bragged about his advantage in Fort Erie. Is this another example of developers with deep pockets holding sway over regular folks?

A group of people has been studying the townhouse proposal and, after hours of figuring and measurements, they have concluded that, even in its reconfigured form, there is not enough room for emergency vehicles to maneuver within the cul de sac. And that is in dry conditions.  Another question: where is the fire chief on this? Has he taken the time to measure the street and its maneuverability? (/crickets.)

In the article, Martin states: “The problem we have 

here is that our planning policies are basically 

legislated by the province,” said Martin, who noted the 

provincial planners have been pressuring 

municipalities to approve residential intensification 

projects. “The days of large lots and sprawling 

development are basically gone.”

First it was the 'wetlands" now it is "intensification."  Fort Erie has a long way to go before intensification is needed. Just down Rebstock, a large unfinished development of houses on nice-sized lots is stalled. Another town home complex on Schooley Road is inching towards construction. There is plenty of housing stock available in Crystal Beach and all over Fort Erie that is not crammed into a small lot.  The Rebstock Road development will stand in stark contrast to the surrounding homes.  It is totally unnecessary and will be an eyesore and a safety hazard if it is built to its present configuration.

Once again the opinion of residents/taxpayers is ignored and they are soon faced with high legal bills to fight for their rights.

And some people wonder why people worked for and voted for the four councillors. At least they listen to their constituents about zoning issues.

Meanwhile Doug Martin still calls Ed Lenchyshyn his friend and campaign supporter.

UPDATE:  What Mr. Lenchyshyn did was the same tactic used by the Molinaros. It is textbook procedure amongst developers. That is, the first plans provided have way too much development for the property. Anyone remember the Two Towers proposal from the Molinaros?  There was no way that two twelve story condo towers would fit on the south side of the Bay Beach Properties. We knew it too. As predicted, the Molinaros pulled back and provided an amended proposal with only one tower.  So too, Park Lane Homes has dropped one townhouse off its proposal of twenty-four. In fact, in order for the development to fit in with the neighbourhood, it would need to drop back to twenty or less units. 

For further information about the OMB, see the recent video regarding an OMB decision that has affected residents in Toronto.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Bullet News has just reported that Fort Erie is now in a minor building boom. 

According to a report prepared for Fort Erie Town Council, 29 building permits were issued in the first quarter of 2014.

 "In fact, this is the strongest first quarter report in over 15 years." (from the report.)

Meanwhile, the Monday (May 5) Council in Committee meaning was dominated by a discussion about a development planned on Rebstock Road in Crystal Beach. It is not the fact that the land (some may remember Green Gables was on the site) is to be developed, it is the amount of proposed town houses that are planned for the piece of property and the set-back from the road for the units.

The discussion proved just who is on the side of the regular taxpayers and who is on the side of a developer who is a campaign donor and supporter of the mayor. Park Lane Homes dropped only one unit from their original plan, yet there is still a lot to be desired with what was presented on Monday evening. Neighbours, who adhered to existing zoning and building regulations when their homes were constructed, are now seeing a proposed development that challenges both space and safety precautions.  Twenty-three townhouse units on the property in question is way too many for the neighbours and observant people to comprehend.  The plan includes a cul de sac for the units that seems to defy the laws of physics.  How emergency vehicles and even garbage trucks will be able to maneuver in the just barely compliant road during the winter has not even been addressed. The "mistake" made on the Hibbard Street  townhouses under construction was explained away as though allowing units to be placed too close to the road is something that routinely happens. Meanwhile, neighbours will just have to "live with it."  The neighbours on Rebstock are trying to prevent another such "mistake" that will only become more apparent once the units are built. 

It would seem that the town's planning department has some 'spaining to do. Of course, the spectre of the OMB looms large in this scenario.  Council has already been warned that if they turn down the zoning variance that allows less space between the units and the road, there will be an appeal filed at the OMB by the developer. (Unfortunately, the OMB has a proven track record of siding with developers in its decisions.)

While it is certainly good news that there are many building permits issued in the first quarter, it is still incumbent on the planning department and the council to make sure that the developments and buildings are being built according to proper zoning and property standards.

I personally think that Mayor Martin should have declared a conflict of interest since he has enjoyed the financial support for his campaigns from Ed Lenchyshyn the owner of Park Lane Homes, but that would never happen.

Observe how this plays out. It is a primer on how the planning department operates.

UPDATE:  A longtime Crystal Beach supporter started a Facebook group to discuss Crystal Beach's future and politics. Everything was going along well for a while - then the North End Irregulars took over and ruined the conversation and the group by insulting and disparaging those who made comments that they did not like. So, they resorted to grade school mischief, perhaps because their own grammar and spelling challenged blog seems to have frozen right up.  They crave attention, so they turned to the new group on Facebook.  

Meanwhile, away from the Facebook trolls, some real progress is being made to improve Crystal Beach. Exciting plans are in the offing thanks to the community minded people who care so much about Crystal Beach that they stood up to fight to save the last piece of public beachfront property from a high rise development.  Years from now, when people look back on this time, they will appreciate what these brave souls accomplished.

Saturday, May 3, 2014



Tonight at Fort Erie Town Council, developer Ed Lenchyshyn (Friend of Dougie and campaign donor) has asked for and will probably get, a zoning change to allow his company, Park Lane Homes to cram townhouses on a parcel of land on Rebstock Road.

Listen in or attend the meeting as nearby residents express their opposition to the plan. 

Ed Lenchyshyn has publicly bragged that he can get anything he wants in Fort Erie.

UPDATE: Despite dire warnings of an expensive OMB appeal, council did not approve the shortened set-back of a proposed town house development on Rebstock Road. Neighbours of the proposed site of the development cited that when they built their homes, the set-back was much deeper than what Park Lane Homes requested. They feel that the development will not be in character or at the same level as all the other homes on large lots in the block between Ridge Road and Rebstock Road. The proposal is for 23 units on a large lot, although set-backs and space between units is much smaller than earlier zoning requires. A similar development on Hibbard Street raised the concerns of neighbours as due to an "error" the set-back was far less than the zoning required.

I think Donnie Lubberts showed great courage in standing up for his constituents. Mayor Martin got all pissy once again and Stephen Passero dragged out his Eddie Haskell persona to make sure that everyone knew he was a candidate for something.

Re: Candidate Intimidation

I thought that Fort Erie had a lock on candidate intimidation.  It seems that the Town of Pelham has gone after a candidate for excessive Freedom of Information requests.

In an article published in the Welland Tribune, the Town of Pelham has sued former employee and council candidate Tara Druzina for $20,000 for breaching an agreement made when she left her job in late 2013.

Since I am only going by what is published in the article, my opinion is that Ms. Druzina is looking for the answers to a lot of questions she has about the Fenwick beutification project and a Fonthill development plan and getting stonewalled by TPTB in Pelham.  Her earlier request for six FOIs was granted by the town, but a subsequent request for six more prompted the lawsuit.

In her termination agreement, Druzina received $20,000 severance "and was required in 

return to not interfere with Pelham's operations or business practices" according to the 

article written by Maryanne Firth.

In the letter she received informing her of the lawsuit:

“It is evident that your requests are part of a pattern of 
conduct that amounts to an abuse of the right of access
and would interfere with the operations of the Town,” 
the letter reads.
“In addition, given the nature of your requests in view of
 recent past experience with you, therequests are
 regarded as having been made in bad faith and for a
 purpose other than to obtain access.”

How jacked up is this lawsuit?