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.