Monday, October 13, 2014


Within days after the 2010 election, the Old Guard gathered and planned the undoing of the new council.  They even gave it a name: Project 4-2-0, ostensibly meaning 'four to zero" to indicate the end of The Four.

Certain members of senior town staff saw the election of the four as problematic.  And the exodus began.

  • Harry Schlange told everyone he was moving to Ottawa to take a new position. (Reminder: Schlange was originally chosen for Fort Erie CAO during Mayor Redekop's last term and left after a couple of months, then came back after just a couple months in the private sector.) 
  • Rino Mostacci, the town planner who envisioned a wall of condo towers all along the Bay Beach Shoreline, left to take a similar job in Markham. He's now back, working for the region.
  • Ron Tripp, head of Infrastructure Services and mastermind of the Bernard Road "state of the art"  storm water system that just about destroyed the nice public beach there, looked for the permanent job as CAO but was denied that by the new council, so he went to St. Catharines as a public works manager. He is now working in a similar position at the region.
  • Heather Salter, the town solicitor, was fired in a vote by the four who felt she was not properly representing the town's interests with regard to the Bay Beach Issue. She now works in St. Catharines.
  • Town Treasurer Helen Chamberlain also left to work for the region.
  • Adam Joon of the Fort Erie EDTC has also left to work for the region.
It seems that Harry Schlange is putting together his own Dream Team with staff from Fort Erie. I agree that a couple of the names on this list may just belong to people who were looking for better jobs, but when the former CAO who favoured the condo tower at Bay Beach is joined by the man who came up with the idea in the first place, the hairs on the back of numerous necks stand on end.

Trojan Horse anyone? What appears to be a good thing for Bay Beach, may be a set-up. The region has pledged $50,000. to match a similar amount from the town to do a Master Plan for the Bay Beach Properties. Having been fooled and lied to many times since the property was bought from George Rebstock in 2001, some are leary that the region, namely Mostacci and Schlange may have influence over the plan. All but one (incumbent Don Lubberts) of the candidates in Ward 5 are in favour of some kind of commercial development for the Bay Beach Properties' waterfront section. After a decade of struggle, the plan to develop the last public parkland on the beach is still in danger of being given over to a private developer.  It's almost bizarre that this issue is still up for discussion.  Time and time again, the people have indicated that they do not want commercial development of the parkland. Period.

An Op-Ed in Bullet Media last week caught my eye. It was all about the CAO (Schlange although he was not mentioned by name) and the purge going on at the region. The writer, former regional councillor Norm Puttick, talks of the loss of at least seven senior staff at the region.  The pay-outs for five of them totals around $3 million, according to Puttick's source. He also suggests that morale is low and some staff replacements might not be qualified for their jobs.

While we are grateful that the region is helping to fund the master plan, and we think/hope that it was given to use for a park plan, we have to be cautious in our optimism because of the track record of Schlange and Mostacci.

We put the idea of selling any of the Bay Beach Properties to rest in 2005; we did everything we could to stop the P3 plan for the beach front areas of the property a couple of years later, and we hope that a new master plan will for once and for all, keep the Bay Beach Properties in the public's hands.

Correction: CKTB did not air an interview with a candidate for Fort Erie mayor on Monday. Will update as information becomes available.