Berm bat­tle

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - LAURA BROADLEY [email protected]­media.com

David Har­vey, left, Nancy Moore and Al Slater of the Port Stan­ley Vil­lage As­so­ci­a­tion stand on the berm of the Port Stan­ley har­bour, which they hope to keep as pub­lic land. The as­so­ci­a­tion has cre­ated a web­site out­lin­ing pos­si­ble uses for the land on the east side of the har­bour and its pre­ferred op­tion.

The Port Stan­ley Vil­lage As­so­ci­a­tion (PSVA) is bring­ing its cam­paign to keep most of a prime chunk of water­front for pub­lic use to the In­ter­net.

The as­so­ci­a­tion launched a web­site (www.port­stan­ley­berm.ca) to in­form the pub­lic that much of “the berm” — nine hectares on the east side of the har­bour — could be sold by the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Cen­tral El­gin to de­vel­op­ers who would build con­dos and com­mer­cial space.

The site was launched by a sub-com­mit­tee cre­ated by the as­so­ci­a­tion to fo­cus on the fu­ture of the berm.

Mem­bers voted at the as­so­ci­a­tion’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing to sup­port re­tain­ing the berm pri­mar­ily for pub­lic use.

Part of the sub-com­mit­tee’s man­date is to raise aware­ness within Port Stan­ley and the re­gion, mem­ber David Har­vey said.

“I’m in­volved in an­other pro­ject where we have a web­site and it’s proven to be very ef­fec­tive,” he said. “We adopted the web­site as a strat­egy to get be­yond Port Stan­ley.”

The berm is part of a large par­cel of land turned over in 2010 by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to Cen­tral El­gin. Soil con­tam­i­nated by in­dus­trial uses was re­moved and re­placed with clean soil.

A draft se­condary har­bour plan cre­ated by con­sul­tant Dil­lon Con­sult­ing out­lines po­ten­tial land uses for the berm such as medium den­sity hous­ing and com­mer­cial uses.

Pre­sented to Cen­tral El­gin Coun­cil in June, the plan rec­om­mends spe­cific land uses, such as parks and res­i­den­tial, and will guide fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of the har­bour if it’s adopted by coun­cil.

The as­so­ci­a­tion is mak­ing the case keep much of the berm as pub­lic land, with de­vel­op­ment on its west side.

“Pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble lake­front prop­erty along the Great Lakes is a rare com­mod­ity at the mo­ment,” Har­vey said. “We think main­tain­ing it un­der pub­lic own­er­ship and mak­ing most of it ac­ces­si­ble for use by the pub­lic is sim­ply the right thing to do from both a pub­lic good point of view but also from an en­vi­ron­men­tal per­spec­tive.”

Har­vey said the as­so­ci­a­tion is hop­ing that most of the berm land will be kept as pub­lic land. It also wants to have dis­cus­sions about how pub­lic land could be used to re­in­force the vil­lage’s tourism draw.

“Com­ple­ment­ing what al­ready ex­ists in Port Stan­ley in terms of pub­lic ameni­ties,” Har­vey said.

The web­site has in­for­ma­tion about ideas for the fu­ture of the berm as well as ex­am­ples from other com­mu­ni­ties.

“You can imag­ine (nine hectares) of land, on the lake, pub­lic water­front that we own now for pub­lic use. Sounds won­der­ful to me,” said PSVA mem­ber Al Slater.

So­cial me­dia ac­counts for Face­book “Port Stan­ley Berm” and Twit­ter @port­stan­ley­berm were also cre­ated by the berm sub-com­mit­tee to en­gage the pub­lic.

LAURA BROADLEY/TIMES-JOUR­NAL

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