In Ontario, Heritage Districts Are Up For Demolition

A Commentary by Doug Draper

“It could take just 30 working days to tear down the remains of decades of Port Dalhousie history.”

Port Dalhousie, Ontario. Thanks to the McGuinty government, almost gone.

That was the first line in a front page story published this past June 10 by The St. Catharines Standard, a chain-owned (Sun Media/Quebecor, need we say more) newspaper that has been a cheer leader for developers wanting to rip down old buildings in Port Dalhousie, Ontario, to erect a multi-tower condo here from the get go.

Now we got a story in The Standard saying that the demolition of old buildings in what is a provincially designated “heritage districe” could be begin as early as this August. The contractor for the demolition is anticipating a “smooth process,” according to a news paper that might just have well served it self up as a newsletter for the condo developers, going back more than five years ago when their plans were first put on the table.

A smooth process? Well isn’t that nice. So let’s just move ahead with the demolition of buildings in a classic port town along Lake Ontario that was designated as a provincially significant “heritage district” under Ontario law before the developers came along with their plans to erect a 17-storey condominium hotel here.

But then along came the Ontario Municipal Board, and despite what a lot of Port Dalhousie residents had to say against this development plan, it concluded at the end of a hearing that the condo plan would be in the public interest. Keep in mind that the OMB is only supposed to make their rules on planning principles. But this OMB officer (appointed by the former Conservative government of Mike Harris and never let go by the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty, which says a helluva lot about his priorities) concluded that it was in the best interest of whoever to approve this development.

So the old buildings go down to make way for a big tower, and there is no doubt some in the community that are rejoicing over this. They may think there is the possibility the residents buying up space in this condo will bring renewed prosperity to the community. They may want to check with other shoreline communities across this continent, who have seen people scooping up expensive condos, leaving them in winter for the hotter climes down in Florida, etc., and ask themselves again if this is better for their community.

When the residents there now begin to experience the higher property taxes, the higher-ends that have moved in to ondos inevitably t wanting ‘rif-fraf’ like me and your swpt from Lakeshore Beach and older folks and others in the community on fixed incomes leaving the community because they can’t afford their property taxes anymore, then even some of those who approved of this project might feel differently.

Indeed, they may feel quite differently when the next mullti-storey tower for Port Dalhousie is proposed, which inevitably it will be Once you have let the high-rise-condo tower genie out of the bottle, there is no going back. There are plenty of other communities that can testify to that.

Whether it is Port Dalhousie, a designated heritage district, or the Bay Beach area of Crystal Beach in Fort Erie, Ontario, these high-rise condos are going to be approved, whether they violate the ambiance of the community or not, and the Ontario government of Dalton McGuinty is going to sit back and not do a thing about it. And where is Jim Bradley, one of McGuinty’s cabinet ministers, in all of this?

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5 responses to “In Ontario, Heritage Districts Are Up For Demolition

  1. The province needs to amend heritage legilsation to take the OMB’s power over them to a more appropriate body the Ontario Heritage Review Board. The Port Dalhouise decision shows that the OMB cannot be trusted to interpret the laws in a proper manner to protect heritage. This was shown in the biazzre decision of the overall chair of the OMB which admitted major errors were made in the ruling by the hearing officer, but upheld the demolition order


  2. Richard Berry

    Hail to the thieves and crooks, the decision by the omb to allow such a travisty that allows a developer to destroy part of niagaras heritage for profit leaves a bile like taste in my gut.
    These guys should be drawn and quartered as they would have been in medieval times. Perhaps we need a revolution in this country just to put things back in sinc.
    Look at Fort Erie for example , the point abino light house issue is a bad one ,the town was basically gifted this light house and the keepers home from the federal government but in my opinion the mayor of the time couldn,t go against his american clients so the thing has sat there for a number of years falling apart and rotting in what is known as engineered blight.
    There was a group of volunteers that wanted to get involved with the restoraton from the day it came into the towns hands, these people included masons ,carpenter s all trades and some restoration professionals including an engineer ,a very talented group well capable of doing what needed to be done to save the properties at very little cost to the taxpayer, but they were told by the chief building official at the time that volunteers would not be allowed to work on site.
    So as always, it sits there losing it,s structure as time goes on meanwhile the incompetants at town hall
    get a hefty paycheque every week.One has to ask themselves who is getting paid off? What has happened to over 30 million in slot revenues.
    Next look at the bay beach condos,who got paid off on that deal, the provincial government and the o.p.p. should be doing an investigation into the hearing officer who presided over this hearing as they should with the officer that with the guy that presided over the one in Port Dalhousie something is not right with the current crop of polictians and thieves that are leading us down the wrong path the path to total destruction


  3. There is eighty or more commissions, boards etc in this province and they are “ALL” appointed positions passed out basically as patronage deals.Blue collared people “forget it” there are none who fit the in the sense of a truly representative role.
    From the Commissioners who supposedly regulates the insurance industry to those who screwed up our Health Care they are all flakes with an agenda and the OMB is no different……The Harris Conservatives complied followed by McGuinty and Bradley was in the forefront looking after WHO??????? You be the Judge THEN the Jury.and get rid of the …….


  4. For me, this pretty much says it all.


  5. Gail Benjafield

    yes to all of the above. Many people, afraid to speak out, I am afraid, will not post here. As a one-time appointee to the Ontario Heritage Foundation (now Trust), I have some background in the dynamics at play.


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