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by Doug Harvey
2019 Local News Makers

The Christmas Holiday break is good time to review the past years headlines that had an impact on the Port Stanley community. The headlines selected show a diversity of events that shape and define our way of life in this community that sits on the shores of Lake Erie. Looking back at 2019, to see the big picture, we start at the beginning, as 2019 proved to be a very busy year in and around the Port Stanley area.

Proposed 5-Storey Apartment Buildings Open House

A open house was planned for Tuesday, January 15th, 2019 in accordance with a Procedural Order issued by the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal on October 10, 2018 involving Case No. PL180077. People were invited by Prespa Construction Limited to learn more about a proposed development consisting of two new 5-storey apartment buildings to be located at 146-156 William Street in Port Stanley, adjacent to Why Not Park. Proposed Building 1 facing William Street will be a mixed-use building, containing 32 residential units and two ground level commercial units. Proposed Building 2 facing Edith Cavell Boulevard will contain 30 residential units. The proposed development replaces a previous proposal by Prespa Construction Limited to construct a 9-storey apartment building and three detached dwellings on the subject property.

Improved School Facilities in Port Stanley

February 1, 2019 - Today, Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education, notified the Thames Valley District School Board of approval to proceed with a proposed capital project at the Kettle Creek Public School in Port Stanley, Ontario.

"Our government is committed to providing students with high-quality learning environments that support student success," said Minister Thompson. "This addition and renovation will ensure Port Stanley has the right supports in place to accommodate the needs of the community."

The project includes:

  • An addition to accommodate a new school library;
  • Retrofits to create two new classrooms; and
  • Renovations to improve existing school conditions.

Fifth Annual Port Stanley Polar Bear Dip

Little Beach in Port Stanley, Ontario, site of the 5th Annual Port Stanley Polar Bear Dip for Childcan in Lake Erie continues to grow in popularity.

This year Childcan set their fund raising goal at $50,000.00 for this event, and through the Polar Bear Dipping efforts of 38 Teams, 198 Participants, numerous ChildCan, and Port Stanley Firefighters Association volunteers, this event raised over $67,231.39 in pledges and donations for a great cause.

Childcan's programs and services provide families with the emotional, social and financial support for their most pressing needs: hospital parking passes and meal vouchers, individual financial assistance, support groups, family fun days, post-secondary bursaries, novel research and so much more.

Port Stanley's First Local Planning Appeal Tribunal

After waiting for over three years to start construction on a mid-rise development on William Street in Port Stanley, it would seem that Prespa Construction Limited will still have to wait for at least another two to three months before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal will have any kind of decision on what can happen next.

This proceeding came before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal because of a claim by Prespa Construction Limited that the Municipality of Central Elgin failed to make a decision on a proposed development application within the 120 days allotted. The initial Zoning By-Law Amendment Application that was received on October 15, 2015 was for a 9 storey complex to be built by Prespa Construction Limited at 146-156 William in Port Stanley.

The public first became aware of this new development as a 9 storey complex at 146-156 William Street at a Central Elgin Council meeting on January 18, 2016. The application was for a zoning amendment to permit mixed use development to construct a nine storey mixed use development on the west side of William Street, north of Edith Cavell Boulevard. The development proposed 52 residential units within the 9 storeys with a ground floor commercial space and three detached dwellings fronting onto Edith Cavell Boulevard. That evening at Council it was decided to wait until the next meeting to schedule a date for a public meeting. At the next meeting of Council on Monday, January 25, 2016 the public meeting for the proposed Prespa development of a 9-storey apartment building on William Street was set to be held at the Port Stanley Arena on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Anne Milchberg acting LPAT member thanked all participants that participated in this Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, and said that a decision could take possibly two to three months to complete. Editors note - As of December 26th, 2019 there still has been no decision from the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal on this proposed development.

Watch Out For That Yield!

Watch out for some new traffic signs at the Bridge Street - William Street intersection. Some caution must be taken for those drivers that for years have been using the same route to the beach going West along Bridge Street then turning South onto William Street.

After going threw that intersection from George Street a couple of times, I can honestly say that when it gets busy it will surely add some free extra excitement to all those visitors heading for the beach.

Spring Construction In Port Stanley

Spring construction in Port Stanley this year is different from last year, mostly due to some major construction projects in both East and West areas of the village. It would seem that Port Stanley's in the early stages of some major changes to it's landscape that will forever change it's identity.

KCCA Cancels Reservations for Long Weekend

St. Thomas, May 14, 2019 - Due to wet ground conditions, Kettle Creek Conservation Authority has made the difficult decision to cancel all reservations at Dalewood and Lake Whittaker Conservation Area until Tuesday, May 21, including reservations for the Victoria Day Long Weekend.

VanHooren says the Authority had hoped that conditions would improve this past weekend. However, the persistent rain and cooler weather means the grounds at both campgrounds remain saturated preventing the ground from drying out and in some cases hindering maintenance to get campsites ready for visitors.

Help Find A Missing Weather Balloon

On Friday, May 10, 2018, Ryan Wallick's fourth grade students in Elkhart, Indiana, USA launched a weather balloon. The launched represented the culmination of a months-long project based learning assignment for the students. In January of 2019, students began learning about weather and climate, as well as Earth's atmosphere. During the project, students secured donations for Helium to lift their balloon, persuaded Elkhart-area businesses to donate t-shirts for their launch event, presented their project to their school board, and even filed a Notice to Airmen before their balloon launch with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Missing Weather Balloon Returns Home

A weather balloon launched by a group of fourth-grade students that traveled more than 250 miles (400 kilometers), crossed the Canadian border, and landed in Lake Erie is back home in Elkhart, Indiana, USA.

Flood Watch for Lake Erie Shoreline

June 11, 2019 - Record high water levels prompts KCCA to issue a Flood Watch for Lake Erie Shoreline

The KCCA advises that, due to the record high lake levels, a Flood Watch is in effect for all shoreline areas within the KCCA watershed. Areas of concern are the low lying beach communities and shoreline areas along Lake Erie, including the low lying areas along the downstream reaches of Kettle Creek within Port Stanley. Unless superseded by a Flood Warning, this watch will remain in effect until June 30, 2019 at which time conditions will be re-evaluated.

Currently the static (calm) water levels on Lake Erie are still setting records but have stabilized. As of June 6, 2019, Lake Erie’s static water level was 175.11 m. This water level is 77 cm above average and 8 cm above the record-high for this time of year (set in 1986). This level does not account for any increase in water levels due to storm surge or wind driven waves. Water levels are forecast to peak mid-June at which time water levels are anticipated to start the seasonal decline.

MPP Yurek Meets LENSLA

Dexter, ON, June 25, 2019 - On Tuesday evening MPP Jeff Yurek enjoyed a perch dinner courtesy of the Lake Erie North Shore Landowners Association at the Dexter Hall in Dexter, Ontario. The main purpose of the meeting was to introduce the new Minister of the Environment to the ongoing issues that many Lake Erie shoreline landowners face.

KCCA Lake Erie High Water Information Session

Port Stanley, ON - The Kettle Creek Conservation Authority had a Lake Erie High Water information session at the Port Stanley arena on Tuesday, June 25, 2019. This information session was called because of record breaking Lake Erie water levels and to show how and where a storm surge could cause flooding in Port Stanley.

Is It Time To Spend More Harbour Divestiture Money On Fixing Port Stanley's Harbour?

Installation of a new breakwater across the channel from the end of the west pier (near the boat launch) heading westerly. This structure would eliminate the majority of the wave action within the harbour. The breakwater would be constructed from Armour Stone and would extend across the mouth of the channel approximately 50 metres long. The breakwater would be similar to the armour stone breakwater on the east side of the harbour. The cost to construct this structure is estimated at approximately $500,000.

Federal Funding Announced for Port Bruce Bridge Replacement

Central Elgin - On September 3, 2019, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development, announced that the County of Elgin will receive $2,500,000 in federal funding for the replacement of the Port Bruce Bridge. The Province of Ontario has already committed to contributing $1,666,500 towards the Port Bruce Bridge Replacement project.

The Port Bruce Bridge collapsed on February 23, 2018. The replacement project will restore permanent access across Catfish Creek, facilitate more active transportation and provide safer travel for residents and visitors.

Port Stanley's King George VI Lift Bridge to get 14 Month Restoration

Earlier this year a Detailed Condition Assessment and Load Limit Evaluation was completed to assess the structural, mechanical, and electrical condition of the bridge. As a result of the existing condition of the bridge the County of Elgin retained the services of GM BluePlan Engineering Limited to complete the design and administration for the Rehabilitation of the King George VI Lift Bridge.

Bid Farewell To Port Stanley's Russell House Apparel

Russell House Apparel, that incredible Port Stanley store that's filled with some of the most Unique Men and Women's Apparel and located at 211 Main Street will be leaving Port Stanley on September 15th with a Bon Voyage Come and Go Party from 12 pm to 4 pm.

Store owner Elizabeth De Wit said that "It's hard to believe that after an amazing 12 and a half years in Port Stanley, and meeting so many wonderful people, that we will be closing our doors on September 15th.

The 2019 Hawk Cliff Weekends are here!

For parents or grandparents that want to get the kids out and introduced to nature, there is no better way than to visit Hawk Cliff Weekends. Visitors can get up close and personal with nature during the two daily presentations about monarch butterflies and the birds of prey that migrate along the shores of Lake Erie. This fall event is made possible by the dedicated members of the St. Thomas Field Naturalists Club, the Hawk Cliff Banding Station, volunteers of Monarch Watch, and the Thames Talbot Land Trust, owners of Hawk Cliff Woods. Presentations are held in open air tents, with seating available on a first come, first serve basis.

Climate Strike St.Thomas - #FridaysForFuture

Friday, September, 27, 2019 - People of all ages inspired by Greta Thunberg and looking for Climate Change Action locally were gather today in front of St. Thomas City Hall as part of the #FridaysForFuture climate strikes. This action was to show elected leaders, here in St. Thomas, across Ontario and across Canada that climate change is not an issue. It's a reality and must be faced now if we expect our children to grow up to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

A Climate Emergency

On Monday, October 28th, 2019 Central Elgin Council supported a resolution declaring a Climate Emergency. The idea of joining this growing National and International movement came from Mayor Sally Martyn who has been attending Fridays for Future Climate Strike activities in St. Thomas. Before supporting the vote Deputy Mayor Marks questioned whether supporting this resolution would add to staff's workload or to the cost of Central Elgin doing business. Mr. Leitch's answer was that he thought measuring the impact of any additional costs that considered a State of a Climate Emergency would have to be done on a case by case basis.

Port Stanley 2019 Remembrance Day Ceremonies

November 10th, 2019 - Veterans, their families and residents gathered outside the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 410 in Port Stanley today to remember those lost in past wars and to pay tribute to Canada's veterans, currently serving soldiers and their families.

Rehabilitation of King George VI Lift Bridge Public Information Meeting

November 21, 2019 - Anyone that didn't attended last nights King George VI Lift Bridge Public Information meeting at the Port Stanley Arena did not miss much. At the entrance to the meeting there was handouts to be filled out with comments, questions or suggestions about this project. There was also several self-serve information boards in a circle around the Arenas upstairs room that illustrated the Bridge Existing Conditions, Recommended Rehabilitation Scope, Estimated Construction Costs, Estimated Project Schedule, and if you had any questions the boards didn't answer, there was some Elgin County staff there to help you.

The biggest and possibly the most damaging local news maker of 2019 was the proposed Rehabilitation of the King George VI Lift Bridge. This construction project would involve shutting down operations of the Lift Bridge for over 14 months beginning in March 2020 then ongoing to May 2021 creating a transportation barrier over Kettle Creek. The issues created by closing the Lift Bridge for such an extended length of time can only be thought of as being devastating for downtown Port Stanley core businesses and many local community groups. The Lift Bridge joins more than both sides of Kettle Creek, it creates a sense of community spirit as well by playing a crucial role in several annual traditions for both young and old that will either be cancelled or could be lost forever.

Spencer Dyck Memory Walk

December 8, 2019 - Today, family and friends gathered in front of the Port Stanley Arena for a Memory Walk in honour of Spencer Mackenzie Dyck.

Spencer was only twenty-five years old when his life was tragically taken by an impaired driver a year ago today on December 8, 2018.

He will be forever missed by his family and a multitude of friends that came out today to cherish his memory.

2019 - Too many things to influence our lives bringing a lot of change coming our way whether people like it or not!


Last Updated: Thursday, 26 December 2019 14:57:36 PM EST

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