Monday, April 24, 2017


Crystal Beach is once again the centre of a land problem. This one may have cost over one hundred investors millions of dollars. The story was highlighted in a recent CBC report that was partially filmed in Crystal Beach.

See the report and read the accompanying article by clicking on the link below.

This is basically what we have been reporting about here for the past couple of years. It seems that Crystal Beach has been the victim of scams for decades. Some of us remember past broken promises and some of us will never fully recover from the devastating fight to save the public beachfront property from being developed into a twelve story high rise. 

There is still one lawsuit against four Fort Erie councillors on the books initiated by the Molinaros, the developers of the high rise. Rather than placing the blame on the town, the developer chose to sue the four councillors who were trying to get the town to look further into the decision to give away valuable public waterfront property in exchange for an ever decreasing list of "amenities." In another court case over the title of the land, the town was found to be aware that there was an unclosed road allowance on the property, yet chose to ignore it. The recent decision in the matter proves that Ward 4 Councillor Don Lubberts was correct when he challenged former town attorney Heather Salter regarding the road allowance. This was part of the basis for the firing of Salter and a later lawsuit filed against Lubberts and three other councillors by former Ward 4 Councillor Tim Whitfield at the behest of a number of others. That case was finally dismissed after years of negative press and publicity against the four. The truth is that they were being punished for trying to save the public property for the people.

Fast forward to today's hot property market and a couple of savvy promoters and you have the makings of a scam. As the report shows, several people from the GTA thought they could make more by investing in a "syndicated mortgage" provider, although such investments can be risky. The developer of the properties, located in Crystal Beach, was a convicted fraudster, Gary Fraser.

History repeated itself and people lost money. Any time one drives down Erie Road, the results can be seen. Gutted and empty store fronts, most owned at one time by the syndicate give visitors the impression that business is not good in Crystal Beach. Simply not true but appearances would indicate otherwise. The truth is that there are property owners in the business area that are simply holding on to empty buildings for their own purposes, caring little about the rest of the area. The once-popular Pines Restaurant is an example. When the original, long-time owners retired, the restaurant was sold to someone who chose to not continue the legacy of the popular restaurant. It did not take long for that venture to fail and the building and its contents were eventually bought by the syndicated mortgage company fronted by Gary Fraser as its representative. The building has been gutted and stripped; a mere shell now for sale through a local realtor. Its demise recalls the fate of the stately, restored "tourist home" that once stood in Queen's Circle. It was bought by the mortgage company and gutted, eventually torn down along with its smaller cottages. That was what caught the interest of myself and others to a possible scam. That property was advertised as a future million dollar vacation resort, complete with a fancy brochure and staged pictures of elegance and upscale living. Then it was gone and remains an empty lot.

Promises never kept. Despite the hard work of interested people, there are still those who want to use the potential of Crystal Beach to cheat people, whether by scam or by selling off its best assets. We must remain vigilant to keep our treasured waterfront village from being used and abused again.

UPDATE: I have noticed that there are many "hits" on a previous article on this blog about Gray Fraser being on the board of the Crystal Beach Business Improvement Area. He chose to resign that post shortly after his appointment. He cited the negative information about him as his reason. His resignation caused a rift in the board because he did have supporters, including Mia Russell who sold her storefront on Erie Road to his company. That store remains closed and abandoned like many of the other properties bought through the syndicated mortgage company fronted by Fraser. It is reported that the $400K price of the store was used to nearly double the mortgage on the store. Frankly, the store should have gotten no more than $200K in the condition it was in.

At this time, I would like to acknowledge the help and hard work of the late R. W. who ferreted out much of the information that raised awareness to the syndicated mortgage and the actions of Gary Fraser in Crystal Beach. She helped warn potential buyers and sellers of the risk of involvement with this group. She used her skills as a realtor to discover the truth behind many of the promises and purchases of Gary Frser and his associates. She did this while suffering through the final stages of the cancer that claimed her life. Her mother, S. G. was a constant source of material for this blog regarding the matter and all three of us contributed information to the police and media in their investigations. It is still troubling to discover that so many still lost money through the syndicated mortgages of Mr. Ha and the promises of Gary Fraser. Those who came forward are to be commended for their bravery.