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.