Tuesday, June 17, 2014



Judge in Conflict of Interest case against the four councillors dies. Superior Court Judge Barry Matheson died Monday following complications from heart surgery.  

Despite Rick Shular and Stephen Passero heaping praise on town staff for the advances made, it was this council that has made a big difference in this town. Let's start with the almost $1 million in the reserve fund. Staff certainly was efficient, but they were directed by council. The result: a good, healthy reserve fund, so healthy that the town gave $500,000 to the struggling race track.

Monday night's council provided a great example of what happens when a council listens to the will of the people. Three delegations, one carrying a petition, appeared at council regarding the potential donation of public land by the town to the District School Board of Niagara. The parcel of land in question sits on Rebstock Road and is part of a larger piece of land donated to the Kinsmen by a Mrs. Hebert way back in 1967.  Her only wish was that it be used for "recreational purposes only."  The Kinsmen re-iterated that promise when the property was taken over by the then Bertie Township and Crystal Beach in 1972. Following amalgamation, it was absorbed by the new Town of Fort Erie, but the promise remained and the land was used for an ice rink, a new library, community centre, football field and baseball diamond. Plans have been in the making for other recreational uses of the land. Then the DSBN decided to amalgamate its primary schools. Instead of using existing sites, it chose  to look to the part of the property that fronts on Rebstock for its future new school. That choice would have entailed the town donating a portion of the property and the other needed acreage would be bought from nearby property owners.  When the donation  was first passed as a resolution; residents were not fully aware of the implications of the donation.  Soon, they discovered that the new school on that parcel of land went against everything that the original donor requested. If the new build would have gone ahead on Rebstock, the DSBN would have three empty schools, two in Ridgeway and one in Crystal Beach. So, the people, represented by a parent, a neighbour and a well-known community volunteer came before council and pled their case. 

And, in the end, they convinced council to change its stance on the property and to withdraw its previous offer. Council decided in closed session that the DSBN should employ its second option: to build the new elementary school on the present site of Ridgeway Elementary on Ridge Road just down the block from the library, etc. 

Now that's how a council is supposed to react to the people's request.

Also, in closed session, the contentious purchase of "industrial lands" from the owner of the Fort Erie Race Track was deferred once again. This one stinks of "bonusing." Apparently some councillors are withholding support. Hard to say exactly because of the privacy of the closed session.