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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  Editorials Creating The Best Port Stanley Harbour Secondary Plan

by Doug Harvey
Creating The Best Port Stanley Harbour Secondary Plan

After eight years of owning the Port Stanley Harbour, this year should be the year in which Transport Canada's remediation and risk management measures come to a conclusion on the Port Stanley Harbour lands acquired in the 2010 divestiture agreement leaving the Harbour property ready for Central Elgin to assume full control of what happens next.

With 2018 having both a Municipal Election in the Fall, and the final draft of the Port Stanley Harbour Secondary Plan ready for a public meeting sometime this Spring, the combination should result in a clear plan of development for all of the Port Stanley Harbour.

The preferred concept for the Port Stanley Harbour is that it should be self-sustaining, able to cover all costs associated with maintenance and dredging, so not to place any additional burden on the taxpayer. As to what direction and how much development on the Port Stanley Harbour acquired lands is needed to pay for future harbour maintenance such as dredging, or concrete repairs, is the question that will have the most significant impact on the direction the Municipality of Central Elgin will have to take. Any report available seems to estimate dredging costs between $750,000 to $1,500,000 every 7 to 10 years to keep the Harbour functioning, but no reports take into account any future concrete repairs or maintenance that will surely be needed for the existing harbour structures in the years to come. So if we use only the higher dredging costs over ten years as an example, the yearly revenue that the harbour has to generate to cover only future dredging would be $150,000.

Currently, any options that create income, tax dollars or wealth for the Municipality seem to rely totally on the future vision that will be created in the Port Stanley Harbour Secondary Plan, which in reality is just a plan that the Municipality of Central Elgin directed, commissioned and paid for. The Municipality also has to consider a return on investment for the West Harbour 4.26 acres of the former James Richardson International Ltd. property that was purchased in 2011 for $500,000, and the 3.15 acre former Lakes Terminals Warehousing property that was purchased in 2012 for $340,000. The combination of these two properties along with land acquired in the divestiture make for an extremely valuable property that extends from the bridge to the boat launch. The only issue here is that any divestiture land can't be sold for another twelve years and until then can only be leased.

In the last round of the Harbour Secondary Plan a ten-story hotel convention centre was proposed along the northwest harbour, and a possible six story mixed use building further south. All that sounds great on paper, and would generate plenty of taxes, but as just a hotel it would be in direct competition with any existing establishments trying to generate enough income in Port Stanley's short summer tourist season to stay open all year long. A better proposal for this kind of development would be a convention theme park combination or casino that would have the potential to draw in more tourists throughout the year making this a more viable option that would easily generate enough tax revenue to pay for any future harbour maintenance.

Any harbour development that actually goes ahead first will be divided into an East West Harbour themes with only focus on the proposals most likely to succeed. Getting some sort of hotel convention centre, theme park, or casino built along the west harbour could take along time to be realized and would put additional expectations on any Berm development to come up with more tax revenue.

All harbour development will sooner or later generate tax dollars for the Municipality, but depending on the type of business could either have a positive effect by offering diversity, or a negative effect by providing more competition for the existing local tourist economy. The path to prosperity for everyone seems to be linked to new development strategy that draws in more tourists throughout the year.

Regardless of what gets proposed in the next Harbour Secondary Plan there is still enough time to have your say in what happens next to our harbour. Also, because this is an election year, strong public support in favour of an alternate plan could still be the next game changer that could influence an even better Harbour Secondary Plan. But finding the best approach to take won't happen unless everyone gets involved.

Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 April 2018 15:54:13 PM EST

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