Port Stanley and area residents were invited to enjoy a free cup of coffee Monday and help define the look of the village for decades to come.
The harbour redevelopment open house attracted dozens of participants to the Village Square Coffee House who eagerly posted their ideas on brightly coloured sticky notes affixed to several aerial maps of the waterfront.
It’s the first step in what is “a long process,” explained Lloyd Perrin, director of physical services for Central Elgin.
“We want to look at all the options. get public feedback and have a good roadmap of where we can head to in the future,” advised Perrin.
The area in question is comprised of 25 acres on the east side of the harbour and another 10 to 12 acres on the west side.
“We’re getting people from all over discussing what the possibilities are and that’s what it’s all about,” stressed Central Elgin Mayor Dave Marr. “Let’s get all the ideas out there and see what people think.”
And what is next for the dozens of sticky notes that included suggestions for pickleball courts, seniors housing, a playground off Little Beach, better lighting and a Port Stanley-themed miniature golf course?
“That’s why we have consultants (Dillon Consulting), noted Marr. “They’re going to take all this information and compile it. From that, hopefully, we can come up with what we believe is the right idea. We will go to the public again and see what they think of this. This is just the beginning. It’s a process that will last from now until the end of November or early part of December.
“The way I look at it, there are no bad ideas. There are some that are better than others.”
“There’s a committee that is steering the process for council and they’ll look at a number of options and bring those back to council for consideration,” added Perrin.
A process that has to be done right the first time, said Marr.
“This could define Port Stanley for decades. What comes out of this will be imbedded into our official plan. Once it’s in the official plan, if people want to change it in the future, they can. But, there is a public process to do that. So, it’s very important that we get this right. It’s unheard of to have that much bare land on waterfront property. I’m confidant once we get the idea what the public wants, we can go out there and attract development.”
Included in the development is construction of Hofhuis Park – a tribute to former mayor Sylvia Hofhuis – created from material dredged from the harbour and remnants of demolished silos that were a landmark on the west side of the channel.
Marr is confidant the first phase of the park will open in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.
“There won’t be any structures on there for a year or two and, again, we’re looking for ideas on what you would like to see,” said Marr. “It is a park, but do you want it totally green, do you want a bandshell, do you want picnic pavilions?”
The key to harbour redevelopment is connectivity, suggested Marr.
“It’s all going to be connected. We’re going to have walkways all the way around (the harbour). There’s an existing walkway on the west side and we’ve got plans to put in place on the east side to walk all the way to Jackson’s (Fish Market). And then we’ve got Main Street, once remediation is done, then we’ll have a look as to how we can beautify that and make it more pedestrian friendly with proper sidewalks.”
For Dan Rose, a Port Stanley resident for seven years, it’s all about maintaining a sense of community.
“Port Stanley is beautiful and all the activities available here on the water. You’re living here but you’re on vacation for six or eight months.”
The lakeside village is a hidden gem, undiscovered by many of his friends and family, Rose noted.
“Even business associates are really impressed with the uniqueness of Port Stanley.
Everybody knows about Grand Bend and Turkey Point but they get to Port Stanley and they see the harbour and it’s ‘This is a beautiful, nice community.’ Some want to retire here and some want to use it as a vacation place. So there are a lot of opportunities for people who either want to visit or live here.”
He would like to see residential development, but on a controlled basis.
“More permanent residential so the businesses here can stay open all year-long,” stressed Rose. “As long as it’s done properly and keeps the ambiance of the village. They’re doing some good developments here in Port to bring people to the community but, at the same time, don’t overdo it.
“When you talk to people around town, they say keep it Port Stanley but, at the same time, develop it in a way that can keep it a little bit old school fishing village.”
A sentiment echoed by long-time resident Russ Whalls, who urged mayor and council not to forget the community’s long association with commercial fishing, exemplified by the tugs tied up in the harbour that are the focus of many a visitor’s camera.
Members of the public can still input their ideas by visiting
Questions and comments may be emailed to: City Scope