Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THE SAGA OF PORT PLACE CONTINUES

Just before the Bay Beach Issue, there was a planned development for Port Dalhousie that was causing angst within the lakefront tourist village that is now part of St. Catharines. The similarities between the Port Place development and the multiple-name project on public waterfront land in Crystal Beach. 

Opponents to the Port Dalhousie project went through the same process that was followed in the Bay Beach situation: OMB, citizen activism and a campaign to vote out those who supported the plan. Five years have passed since the OMB gave approval to the original developer to build a high rise containing a hotel, condos, a theatre and commercial businesses on the property where the Welland Canal meets lake Ontario. 

Port Dalhousie was once a thriving tourist location and party town. Although there were challenges surrounding the popular bar area, the other businesses in town enjoyed a steady trade of locals and tourists almost year 'round. The councillors who voted to allow the Port Place development to proceed either did not take the current business situation in to account or they were enthralled with the presentation by the developer who promised great things for the community when the project was completed. (Campaign donations by the developer may have helped as well.)

In the Comments section, Andrew Watts said it quite succinctly


"In Niagara Region the 'developer' is king!
Incompetent regional and municipal governments continue to listen to their staff, unelected planners and finance 'experts', who only want to build because they believe if you do 'they(and lots of additional taxes) will come'.
The developer(s)just sit back and waits to be 'bribed'...!!! Anyone listen to the increasing demands for breaks on development fees, breaks on property taxes, breaks on energy bills? All are part of the increasing 'corporate welfare' that politicians continue to approve. 
Any development application used to involve a 'business plan' to show a profit for the builder after all other application and development costs, after the construction is completed, after the properties are sold and including all other costs along the way....!!!!
Nowadays they just throw away the business plan knowing incompetent politicians, advised by incompetent unelected staff, will push badly thought out projects in order to show they know what they are doing and maybe even pick up a couple of votes in the process............... :-( :-( :-(
If a developer runs out of cash or sees his 'profit' declining he is quite likely to flip his share and walk away............. :-)
Follow the money, much of which is our tax dollars, and research the background to your 'local' developers, many of whom probably have ties to Toronto 'investors' and Bay Street law firms.............
Two that spring to mind are Lakewood Properties in Wainfleet and the PD Tower project in PD.
A few years back Lakewood ran into a cash problem and were bailed out by one of the PD developers. That same developer no longer has any financial interest in either PD or Lakewood.... :-) :-) :-)
And coincidentally, what is the address of Lakewood Properties now? I think you will find it is not only in PD but not a million miles away from the address of the original PD Tower project company?
Surprise! Surprise!
Don't just blame Andy P. All of our politicians continue to claim they are experts on everything and vote for a whole host of things they really know little if anything about!
But when you have the promise of big tax bucks, when you have unelected staff who work on a daily basis with those developers with the big ideas it doesn't take much to approve the wrong projects!!!!
And don't forget these planners put all their ducks in a row first. They get approval or at least no objections from the necessary provincial and regional agencies, plus from another agency we all hear so much about, the NPCA...!!!! :-)
Don't just blame a politician because he doesn't vote the way you do!
Few if any approvals are ever by just a single politician! And often time the majority do so because their staff have advised them they can't vote against................ :-)
Blame you elected Councilors for abdicating their responsibilities as the sole Planning Authority in their municipality!
The elected councilors should be the first ones to see any applications, particularly large projects, for them to first assess if they may be contentious!
Once the planners get hold of an application and go through the entire process before presenting them for approval it is far too late!"
Andrew Watts:

Couldn't have said it better myself. (I probably have. Just substitute Bay Beach for Port Dalhousie.)

TRACK UPDATE:  According to a published report, the Year of the Horse festivities at the Fort Erie Race Track have been put out to pasture.