Central Elgin is moving closer to implementing its plan to redevelop the Dominion of Canada (D.O.C.) Building in Port Stanley. The agenda for CE Council’s January 10, 2022 meeting includes a Notice of Motion to declare the property “surplus,” signaling its imminent availability for sale.

“As indicated on the agenda this is a surplus land motion,” said Paul Shipway, Central Elgin’s Chief Administrative Officer and Clerk. “A motion will be considered by Council in accordance with the Sale and Disposition of Land Policy for the lands identified on the document attached to the agenda.”

In late 2021, CE entered negotiations with a “preferred candidate” to redevelop the community’s beloved D.O.C. Building. The confidential talks identified “site specific” changes in the Port Stanley Harbour Secondary Plan needed “to permit the potential use” at 191 Carlow Road. So, Council amended the Secondary Plan.

The municipality has not disclosed the name of the “preferred candidate,” the nature of the redevelopment proposal, or any of the financial arrangements required to service the property, or to update and repurpose the run-down structure.

A report by CE Planner Kevin McClure suggests what type of land use the municipality is exploring. The Secondary Plan amendments relate to facilitating “the needed front-end investments” required for an “indoor four-season market,” with a “lease to own” option “to help attract a qualified private sector group.”

The changes could accommodate “a microbrewery or microwinery with accessory product sales; takeaway food outlets; sit-down restaurants; and-or banquet-meeting facilities to serve local residents, businesses, tourists and other visitors to Port Stanley.”

Central Elgin asked for private sector proposals to redevelop the D.O.C. Building in April 2021. A call for ‘expressions of interest (EOI)’ was posted on the municipality’s website and was also directed to “targeted industry groups” with a June 3, 2021 closing date.

“As previously communicated, the D.O.C. EOI process will result in a public report for (Council) direction, however, it has not reached that stage at this time,” said Shipway.

The Ontario Municipal Act permits CE to proceed without disclosing much about the project. According to Section 239 (2) (c) of the Act, “When a municipality is in the process of buying or selling municipal land, holding discussions about the land transaction in an open session could affect the municipality’s bargaining position or negotiation strategy.

“The purpose of the acquisition-or-disposition-of-land exception (to timely transparency) is to protect the municipality’s bargaining position by permitting discussions to be held in closed session about a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by a municipality,” the Municipal Act continues.


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