ImPort Stanley is weekly series about life and discoveries by a recent “import” to Port Stanley, ON.
By June, we should know what Port Stanley’s harbour is going to look like in the coming years. That’s when Central Elgin plans to release its master plan after considering input from residents and politicians.
We know we’re drawn to the water. But considering the future has made us carefully consider why. What is it that pulls us in? An unobstructed view? Attending something fun? Shopping? Sitting on a patio? These are things we’ve needed to consider.
As I’ve previously noted, Port Stanley is in a growth phase. When they’re looking to purchase a cottage, Torontonians are finding Lake Erie more affordable than heading north. Investors are buying properties to rent until they can retire here. That’s another issue lakeside communities are grappling with – absentee landlords. Some don’t care who rents their properties as long as the money rolls in. Our nearby Airbnb owners care more about being good neighbours, thank goodness. A three-night minimum for a booking certainly deters partiers from coming here for a weekend and hosting loud parties.
Expansion is coming. It won’t be stopped. Regarding population, it’s already here. Long time residents would be better off speaking their minds than wringing their hands. There doesn’t seem to be an appetite for the berm – the last public space on Lake Erie – to end up in private hands. We need more retail and restaurants. A microbrewery plus eatery are coming to the former Dominion Building.
The President of the company that purchased this building, and has an offer pending on the Jackson’s Fisheries building across the harbour and closer to its mouth, thinks he made a great find. There was a piano inside the Dominion building that he believes was used at the Stork Club and played by the likes of Guy Lombardo. He plans to have it restored and showcased in the new restaurant.
Water is what brings tourists here. Port Stanley needs to get this right with a mix of retail, residential and public spaces. There’s talk of putting in a sidewalk between Little Beach and the Main Beach. Right now, it’s a long, muddy, path. I love that when you’re shopping for something, a merchant who doesn’t have it will recommend another Port Stanley shop. That attitude has to carry through the town.
Some people worry about maintaining a community feeling here as the town expands. Well, it starts with embracing the arrival of new neighbours and supporting local businesses. Crowded beaches mean busy cash registers and that’s good for us all. We’ll be watching closely for the release of the roadmap to Port Stanley’s future.