The new owner of the Jackson Fisheries property is considering plans to replace the Port Stanley landmark with a four-storey, 14-unit commercial-residential building.

Maverick Real Estate broker Craig Hansford, who purchased the old fish market for $1.7 million last month, said the acquisition is scheduled to close in December 2021. He has yet to submit a development application to Central Elgin.

“This is still early days,” Hansford said in an interview last night. “I’m not here to push the barriers too hard. I’m going to build on top of the existing structure.”

Hansford said he was surprised and upset that his plans for the 170-172 Main Street site were reported in the London Free Press. “I was not even aware this story was going out,” added Hansford in an email. “ … I don’t own the property and I was hoping to close it before stories were to come out … my phone was bombarded with calls (yesterday) … I am not a licensed builder and cannot sell condos to the public.” (Journalist Norman De Bono stands by his story.)

Regardless, Hansford’s initiative is likely to stimulate public engagement later this year as Council’s review of the municipality’s Official Plan, and the Harbour Secondary Plan, proceeds. Together, the planning documents will set the stage for growth, development, and heritage protection here for decades to come. Due to COVID-19 and the resulting public health concerns, consultations will be “primarily” online, with “in-person events contingent upon the direction of the local Medical Officer of Health.”

“It would be great to see rental apartments instead of more condos, however, with that kind of financial investment, condos only make sense,” said Dustin Allen, proprietor at Ports Pets, and Chairman of the Port Stanley Business Improvement Area (BIA). “I think it would be great for all businesses to have another 20-to-30 Port Stanley residents support all the shops, restaurants and services in the village.

“It certainly is a prime location along Kettle Creek, at the end of Main Street and a stone’s throw from Little Beach,” added Allen. “The building has been empty for a while, with no one interested in taking over the fish market, which I know is sorely missed by everyone. Hopefully local photographers and, or Central Elgin can reprint or replicate the beautiful mural along the Jackson building and have it put up somewhere in the village.”

The proprietor at GTs On The Beach, Carol Gates, is also hopeful. “I know some residents have been resistant to change, but the wave of development that’s hitting all of Ontario cannot be held back. Good development is good for our municipality and we welcome this new opportunity to our community.

“There are several new builds in Port Stanley already that prove that new builds can be designed to fit in,” added Gates. “I wish Maverick Real Estate all the very best and believe that it will make sense for them to work with the community on a fabulous design that fits with the unique character of our village.”

Central Elgin Deputy Mayor Tom Marks said he was caught off guard by The London Free Press story. “It’s funny that the transaction doesn’t close until the end of the year,” said Marks. “A lot of things can happen before then. I’ll keep an open mind until then.”


North Shore Beacon first reported on the acquisition in March.