Port Dalhousie Group To Developers – Scrap Condo Tower And Come Back With Plan More In Keeping With A ‘Heritage District’

 An Announcement from the Port Dalhousie Conservancy

(NAL is posting the following March 8 announcement from the Port Dalhousie Conservancy, a St. Catharines, Ontario area citizens group that has been fighting a development group’s plans to build 17-storey condo tower complex, dubbed Port Place, in the heart of a designated heritage district.

This announcement is a response to the recent news that the developers have decided not to move forward with a promised 415-seat theatre that would have been part of the Port Place project and may build a grocery store instead.)



Conservancy Would Welcome Scaled Down New Application Consistent With Planning Policies

The old Port Mansion, located in the heart of a designated 'Heritage District', would be completely levelled as part of the 17-storey condo tower project . Photo by Doug Draper

 St. Catharines, March 8, 2012. The Port Dalhousie Conservancy has concluded that removing the theatre and/or making other major changes to the Ontario Municipal Board-approved Port Place proposal, will require a full new application and public meeting process. This conclusion was reached based on meetings with the City’s senior Planning staff, a review of the OMB decision and attendant By-Law and advice from lawyer Jane Pepino.

Three years ago, following a marathon hearing, PDVC won OMB approval of virtually 100 per cent of their proposal despite vigorous, and extremely costly, opposition by the community and the City. At the OMB, PDVC insisted the theatre would work even though they were told by expert witnesses that it would not be successful or profitable and, they were alerted about the likelihood of a downtown Performing Arts Centre. Suddenly, it has been reported that they now see the theatre as a liability and they want to drop it.

The City Planner supported the proposal, and the OMB approved it ,because of the claim it would revitalize, and the theatre was the key component of the revitalization argument. It was supposed to make Port Dalhousie “a year-round tourist destination” stated Conservancy President Hank Beekhuis. “Without the theatre it becomes primarily a condo tower development in a low-rise Heritage District so, if they want changes, we would encourage them to submit a new application that is consistent with the Heritage Guidelines and other applicable planning policies” he added.

The Conservancy believes this is a unique opportunity for PDVC to introduce a viable, scaled-down proposal that will be less costly to build yet, lead to a more appropriate development for a low-rise, 19th and early 20th century Heritage District. 

 “We are ready and willing to work with the developer to help craft a more appropriate proposal that will be likely to receive required approvals and respects the wishes of the residents,” said Beekhuis.  “We can also provide advice and assistance with improvements to the adjacent heritage components, such as restoring the Harbour Lock, should they decide to invest their funds in these as part of the new application”.

The Port Dalhousie Conservancy Inc., is an all-volunteer community organization with over 600 members. The Conservancy has always supported appropriate development in Port Dalhousie’s Heritage District that is consistent with applicable planning policies.

 (Niagara At Large invites you to share your views on this post in the comment boxes below. Please remember that NAL does not post anonymous comments or comments by people using pseudonyms. Only comments attached to real names are posted on this site.)



12 responses to “Port Dalhousie Group To Developers – Scrap Condo Tower And Come Back With Plan More In Keeping With A ‘Heritage District’

  1. Wow. It will be interesting to see the way things look down there after all the construction!


  2. Derek Martin, the new owner of PDVC, does not have the same vision as the original owners. However, when he bought the company, according to the OMB, the vision came with it. He is mandated to build a theatre and has never said he won’t. He was merely fishing around to see if he could wiggle out of his obligation. Not only will he be opposed by the Proud/conservancy, he will also find opposition from myself and others who supported the vision which was developed with public amenities such as the theatre and courtyard at the heart of the concept. He may like to think the theatre is not viable only because it gives him reason to ask to be let out of building it. But St. Catharines is poised right next to one of the most famous Theatre District’s in Canada. We’re building a downtown Performing Arts Centre. And don’t forget the the theatres in Niagara Falls including the one in the Casino. NIagara, not just NIagara-on-the-Lake, can come to be regarded as a theatre district. The appeal of a Port Dalhousie theatre is that it is on the waterfront. It is very viable and Martin will come to realize this in time.


  3. The old Mansion House always reminded me of a building that would not be out of place in New Orleans LA it has so much appeal, I found that OMB decisions are broken all the time with impunity (supposed to be binding) not in Fort Erie where council broke the agreement the OMB sent down, concerning extensions to the sewer lines in Black Creek and Stevensville.I hope David has better results with St.Catharines City Council.


  4. After all the legal fees, the OMB hearings, the recession, et al, I am wondering if we’re ever going to see this tower built.


  5. Gail Benjafield

    I am pleased to see Serafino’s remarks. His vitriol towards any of us in the anti-tower group was startling and, to me, deeply offensive. I thank him for coming to his wits, and understanding just what was always at stake here -=– and becoming to understand what so many others did. This was, in one woman’s opinion, all about developer greed, and never, not once, had anything to do with the Revitalization of Port Dalhousie. I do not live there, but in the South End of the city, so no conflict there.

    As A. Browne says. Whither this development?

    The OMB is, again, in one woman’s opinion, a sorry mess of Partisan politics appointees. I could be wrong. G. B.


    • David Serafino

      Wrong on all counts, Gail. Though the new owner may be showing some “greed” for maximizing profits, that was not the case with the original owners who developed a concept with vision, cultural amenities and the prospect of revitalization. I have always been in possession of my wit and have not altered my opinion one iota. My support for Port Place was predicated on what it offered to do not what it was seen to be. My support has always been for the cultural amenities and the prospect of revitalization. If, in the past, you were offended by my vitriol, keep in mind that you do not have the right to not be offended and also that my criticism was directed at attempts by anti-tower people to mislead the public.


  6. Was searching the Internet for a history of this controversy and found this dandy linking the Niagara Region to the tower. Brings back memories.



  7. Anyone that supports a criminal monstercondo in a heritage district, if they have their wits, is just another crook.


    • Perhaps you would like to explain exactly what you mean by “just another crook” rather than making an uneducated statement. Ignorance is not an excuse for defamation so please explain yourself; or, if you lack the courage, just quiet your vitriol.


  8. Oh David, you take the bait every time. There is no point in pretending you are gracious in defeat, especially after you subjected us to your ad hominem attacks, insults, and theatrical outrage for the past number of years. You have done so much to damage people’s sense of who you are, that feigning adult reasonableness at this point is just as much a lost cause as is the Port Place project. Fortress Real Capital has a very nice fund raising campaign going on right now…perhaps you can show some real leadership and get out in front by buying up some shares in the brontosaurus 🙂 http://www.fortressrealcapital.com/projects/port-place.php


  9. As a US Citizen and frequent Visitor to Port, I was amazed and saddened by the proposed condo development as illustrated on the “wall”. The scale is woefully destructive to the character of Port. The tasefully renovation of the Port Mansion section, with a more appropriate scale new condo development would be much better. I am sure the economics do not work for the developer, but keep fighting. Once it is gone, it is gone!


  10. Lorene Rodgers

    I am glad u are not allowing a 17 storey condo on the site of the port mansion…..it would be nice to see terraced dining because the view is spectacular. The only problem is parking. I dont know how u would handle that.

    A Note from Niagara At Large – Unless NAL is missing something, the high-rise condo complex that would replace the port mansion is still on the books for construction. Following the Ontario Municipal Board’s approval of this plan a few years back, there appears to be little to nothing to stop this from going ahead unless the developers decide to abandon it.


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