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