Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Didn't want to do it, but it has become necessary as, once again, the Bay Beach Properties are in danger of being given over to private development (high rises.) Of course, this concept will be introduced again all neatly wrapped up in a one hundred grand consultant package brought to you by.....the same consulting firm that was used to justify the building of a twelve story condo tower on public waterfront lands in the first place.

Damn, we thought that the Master Plan for the Bay Beach Properties would take into account the desires of the people who live in the area who have been fighting, through legal channels, the former town planner's dream of a wall of condos along the shore of Bay Beach. At least ten years of struggle to save the last waterfront parcel on the public sand beach from private development. What does it take to save a potential parkland for the people? We know that the current council was elected by and for commercial interests. The campaign to discredit four duly-elected councillors was hatched amongst the very people who helped elect a Chamber of Commerce-centric council. Rather than being ashamed of the lies, misrepresentations and lawsuits against The Four, the new council revels in its ignorance and lack of innovation, thinking that "boring" is a good council meeting. 

 Wake up people.  They haven't gotten the bill for the $400,000 over budget from water main breaks this winter.  It is a common held belief from those at 1 Municipal Drive that the grand reckoning will come in 2017.  They all know that the fixes and catch up will be double digit tax increases the likes of which our town has never seen (even under Martin). 

Kris DubĂ© wrote an interesting piece in Bullet News this week. It must be read very carefully to really understand just how dangerous this new process can be to those who wish to keep the Bay Beach Properties in the public's hands.

 "The Town of Fort Erie's solicitor, Ed Lustig, said since Palmer was retained by the municipality and not the developer – council is legally free to move ahead with the Planning Partnership to begin a master plan for the area.
“My view was and is, at the present time, there is no conflict of interest,” he said at Monday night's council-in-committee meeting.
Lustig also said the firm has agreed to place a 'Chinese wall,' between Palmer and the rest of its team – an information barrier used in business settings to prevent the exchange of communication that could eventually result in a conflict of interest.
Palmer had not been previously contracted with the Molinaro Group – nor is he working for them on any projects currently, according to Lustig.
Another perceived conflict would be if the Planning Partnership is called as a witness in the ongoing legal matter, said Lustig. 
If this does happen, which Lustig said at this point would only be speculation, the municipality's argument would be that it gave the Molinaro Group all its approvals before they backed out of the agreement on their own, which is all contained in public documents. 
All of the planning decisions that were made were supported by the town, the majority of town council,” said Lustig.
On Dec. 31, 2013, the Molinaro Group backed out of its partnership with the Town of Fort Erie to build a 12-storey condo building on the south side of Erie Road after the majority of council voted not to grant an extension that would additional time to allow for more units being sold by the developer."

A so-called "Chinese Wall" is a method that law firms and other consultants use to avoid conflict of interest accusations. It is supposed to work, but it seldom does because there is so much interaction within a firm between employees. Can you imagine that Ron Palmer (late of the C.A.U.S.E. Study of 1996; the Bay Beach Consultation that gave the go-ahead to the Molinaros where he was the lead person; and now the Bay Beach Master Plan) is not going to be influenced by his previous recommendations? Any person who can help write the C.A.U.S.E.  Study that gave Crystal Beach a blueprint for a "hidden gem" that should acquire and keep as much waterfront property as possible and then recommend that the town give a high rise developer the last piece of public waterfront property in Crystal Beach is not to be trusted to come up with a master plan for that property. 

Is there no other consulting firm in the province that doesn't have such an incestuous relationship with the Bay Beach Properties? 


The once ugly waterfront of Buffalo is being transformed! Finally, the city woke up to the potential of its vast waterfront. The latest effort is the Buffalo Harbor State Park. From the article:

"A greenspace turned destination, the first phase of Buffalo Harbor State Park is nearing completion. Crews are currently putting the final details on a nautical themed playground, pavilions, shade structures, and landscaping just in time for warmer weather."
Wouldn't something like this be nice for the waterfront side of The Bay Beach Properties? Notice that it is a state park, like our provincial parks. It will not be sold, privately developed or taken away from the people because it is protected by its state park designation. Our Bay Beach seems to be up for grabs to developers despite the will of the people. I suggest that people in other parts of the town look at their favourite local park/playground and then imagine it being given over to a high rise developer despite the efforts of the residents to keep it in the public hands. How would you feel if your kids' soccer field became a high rise development? 

The people of Crystal Beach have welcomed the South Coast development on Ridgeway Road because it fits in nicely with the character and tone of Crystal Beach. Lots of cottages are being bought and rehabbed and there are new builds in empty lots all through the Beach. Take a look if you don't believe me.

June 13: Crystal Beach Community Garage Sale. 8:00 AM - ?

Followed by Best Behaviour in the Park free band concert at Queen's Circle starting at 1:00 PM. The Crystal Beach Firefighters Association - Fort Erie Station 6 will have food and drinks on hand. Proceeds will be used to add a new swing feature to the Cpl. Albert Storm Playground at Waterfront Park.