The Municipality of Central Elgin (CE) acquired the Port Stanley harbour properties from the Government of Canada in 2010. Local citizens founded the PSVA primarily to coordinate their efforts connected with the process of acquiring and developing those properties. Our aim was to ensure that the voices of residents were heard as Central Elgin undertook a transformation that would affect the village for generations. The PSVA has been involved at every step.
Under the divestiture agreements between Canada and Central Elgin, Canada agreed to remediate the harbour properties to parkland status (in the case of the east headlands or “berm”) and to industrial standard (in the case of the remainder of the properties). Canada’s consulting engineers prepared a series of risk assessment documents which had to be approved by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks (MECP). After a decade of remediation work and risk assessments, the most recent risk assessment was finally approved in 2020.
In September of that year, the MECP approved the risk assessment for the Harbour Lands. The municipality will now work with MECP to obtain the Certificates of Property Use. This will take place after public review and comment and, we believe, after the Secondary Plan for the harbour lands has been approved and a master plan for the harbour parks has been implemented. After the Certificates have been obtained, the final step is for the municipality to obtain the Record of Site Condition for the harbour lands. As the Risk Assessment has been ongoing for over 10 years, the approval by the MECP is a major step forward and gives the municipality control over most of the remaining steps in the planning process.
Although the order of events may not be precisely as set out below and public meetings mentioned below may be combined, the main steps in this process are anticipated to be as follows:
Steps taken to date:
Negotiating the terms of the divestiture agreements, including holding public meetings to ascertain the preferences of the public
Executing the divestiture agreements - 2010
Completion (by engineers retained by the government of Canada) of risk assessment reports for approval by the MECP - 2012-2017
Completion of the remediation work (by contractors retained by the government of Canada) as required by the risk assessment documents. The work was done before the risk assessment was actually approved by the MECP - 2009 to 2020
Approval of the risk assessment by the MECP - 2020
Receive the Zuzek Waterfront Hazard Study (report on water levels, lake floor and shoreline impacts, flood risk, impact of climate change) - a prerequisite to finalizing the Secondary Plan. A public meeting was included in the terms of engagement but has not yet taken place - 2021
Steps to be taken in future:
Complete, adopt (by CE) and approve (by Elgin County) the Harbour Secondary Plan, including design guidelines. Public meeting requirement - early 2022.
Public review and comment on uses proposed for harbour properties as prerequisite for MECP record of site condition (combined with public meeting?) - 2022
Prepare Waterfront Master Plan to encompass a) public areas including parks, walkway, forested areas and buildings and b) areas to be designated for commercial development. Detailed design for harbour lands (e.g perimeter walkway, extension of Main Street) includes phasing of, and tendering process for, contracting works - 2022
Certificate of Property Use from MECP for parks and public areas - 2022
Prepare Zoning bylaws to deal in greater detail with development control
Development of the harbour properties reserved for parks and other public uses - commence 2022 but ongoing
Site plan approval for commercial development - 2030?
Approval from MECP for commercial development (possibly entailing further records of site condition and, where change of use proposed, risk assessment) - 2030?
Development of portions of harbour properties reserved for commercial developments - likely after 2030 (to avoid penalties for earlier sale set out in divestiture agreements)
The divestiture agreements appear below. The other primary documents pertaining to the harbour divestiture and remediation, including the risk assessments and the consultant reports, can be found on Central Elgin's website here: