Construction of utilities required to transform the DOC Building into a brewery are expected to begin this winter. (Graphics courtesy Municipality of Central Elgin.)


Central Elgin Council still needs to do a little housekeeping before redevelopment of Port Stanley’s harbourfront can begin.

At its December 12, 2022 meeting, Council instructed its planners to prepare a site-specific amendment to the zoning bylaw for 191 Carlow Road for consideration in the new year. The amendment will incorporate some “technical mapping revisions.” Municipal staff were also advised to schedule a public meeting.

The decision supports Port Stanley Brewing Company’s plan to transform the municipally owned Dominion of Canada (DOC) building into a microbrewery. The patios on the banks of Kettle Creek are still slated to open in 2023.

“We want to get (utilities) built sometime in late winter, February or March, when the ground is still frozen,” Michael Mescia, President of Domus Developments said in a recent interview. The brewing company is owned by Dominic Mescia, of Domus Developments and Westhaven Golf and Country Club, as well as Peter McClure, of Wasko Developments, all of London. “The brewery equipment – the vats and stills and everything – was ordered months ago.”

Central Elgin entered into a $1.4 million lease-to-own agreement with the brewing company in February. The transaction includes a five-year lease, at $100,000 a year, with an option for the brewing company to purchase the property for $900,000. Early estimates suggested the brewing company would also need to invest another $1 million to construct the necessary water, gas and electricity connections, and an additional $1 million to outfit the brewery, restaurant, and event space.

An 8,629 square foot structure on the western bank of Kettle Creek, just south of the King George VI Lift Bridge, the DOC warehouse was erected in 1930. The building was included in the deal, when Central Elgin and the Government of Canada signed a divestiture agreement in 2010, allowing the municipality to assume ownership of the harbourfront. It is on the municipal clerk’s list of heritage properties.

Domus and Wasko also own the equally iconic L.R. Jackson Fisheries property at 172 Main Street, at the south end of Main, fronting on the creek.

Michael Mescia said Domus has been consulting with Central Elgin about plans to convert the fishery into a three-storey apartment building – using the original cement-block structure as a base – and erecting a second, three-storey apartment building on the vacant land immediately to the south. That would create eight apartment units and 10-to-15 units respectively.

While an official proposal has yet to be presented – or approved – by CE Council, Mr. Mescia said the plans will upgrade the fishery building to include commercial space on the ground floor, while the new south-most building will have an indoor parking garage on the ground floor.

The fishery closed for business in April 2018 and the property has sat vacant since then. It was owned by the family of “Joe” Larry Roy Jackson, of Port Stanley, who passed away on January 24, 2022, at the age of 84. His wife Bonnie had passed in 2021.

Joe’s obituary said, “Commercial fishing was his life.” He is descended from brothers Roy and George Jackson who started fishing out of Nanticoke in the 1930s. Joe Jackson kept up the family business – which supplied many local restaurants and retail outlets – until 2018.

The Port Stanley Harbour Secondary Plan – a component of the Central Elgin Official Plan – sets out a long-term vision and plan for an 85-hectare study area in and around Port Stanley Harbour.

The Secondary Plan permits the extension of Main Street toward the water’s edge – across the berm – with mixed use development on both sides of the street to a maximum building height of four storeys.

Along the corridor between Main Street and Little Beach, five and six storey developments are permitted. There are also provisions to allow mixed-use development to a maximum of four-storeys on the west side of Kettle Creek, with a six-storey allowance to accommodate a hotel-conference center.

In June, Central Elgin Council 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 is 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.

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.