By Joe Konecny
Aylmer Express / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Central Elgin Council on Monday adopted a $33.5 million Port Stanley Waterfront Master Plan that will guide redevelopment of the Lake Erie and Kettle Creek shorelines in the heart of the village for the next generation.
The plan includes 39 recommendations whose implementation are estimated to cost about $22.9 million – or $3 million a year – for the first 10 years, with another $10.5 million of work in following years, at the discretion of Council. Additional public input is envisioned throughout.
“I think it’s a very good roadmap of where we want to get to,” said Ward 1 Councillor Colleen Row. “It will take time and effort obviously and it’s a big number, so it’s not going to happen overnight.
“But with this priority list and maybe a few tweaks,” added Row, “hopefully we can make it work and we can find some funding from other governments, other sources, to make this work sooner than later.”
Prepared for the municipality by Thinc Design, of Toronto, the plan addresses a wide variety of harbourfront redevelopment considerations, and highlights nine guiding principles identified through the largely online public consultation process.
Mike Tocher, a Think Design partner and project lead, told Council public consultations suggest Port Stanley residents’ No. 1 concern is to have a plan that acknowledges “available waterfront land is precious and should be used to support activities for all members of the public.”
Other guiding principals include: providing a “pedestrian focused” waterfront; ensuring adequate parking; planning mixed-use developments fronting the water and the street; providing “a wide range of all-season activities;” addressing climate change and rising lake water levels; “naturalizing” a “significant portion” of the berm; redirecting public calls for a splash pad, an off-leash area for pets and sports courts to “elsewhere in the community; and “accommodating a marina facility or amenities in the future.”
Among the proposed amenities highlighted in the master plan – viewed as an important tool for Central Elgin’s budget planning process – are an amphitheater on the berm, an event space at Hofhuis Park, fishing platforms, lookouts, exercise stations and various trails and walkways.
“It’s hard not to get excited when you read it and start to think about the possibilities,” said Deputy Mayor Tom Marks.
Ward 2 Councillor Dennis Crevits added: “I was happy to see the final draft as presented. It is what is wanted by the area.”
While Mayor Sally Martyn expressed concerns about how the plan – particularly the proposal for a two-tier waterfront promenade around the perimeter of the berm – will stand up to harsh weather conditions, she said “it’s a great plan,” and urged staff to start “naturalizing” the berm and planting trees as quickly as possible.
Deputy Mayor Tom Marks