Over the next five years, Crystal Beach will be improved as Fort Erie takes on a $2.05 million enhancement project. The Town hired a consultant firm/ Planning Partnership, to develop the master plan for Bay Beach. Councillors unanimously supported the completed document. The master plan is a document that provides a vision for what the property will look like including future development for public access, environmental features, site parking, land use, buildings and public amenities.
A big change from original condo development plans
Prior to these plans, a 12-storey condo tower was in the works. It was a highly controversial project, and in 2013 was cancelled by the Burlington-based condo developers due to numerous issues including ongoing efforts to frustrate the development through legal action.
The town originally purchased the Bay Beach land back in 2001 for $2.05 million with the intention of turning it into a revenue-generating property. The idea of a condo didn’t sit well. After fighting back the condo plans they eventually died out, with 2015 bringing new plans to light that prohibited any sort of condo development.
New revitalization plans for the Bay Beach
A complete redesign of the downtown area surrounding the Bay Beach lands are included in the town’s plans. Residential developments, sidewalks, seasonal boardwalks, parking options, a new park and new washrooms and lockers are all planned for this project.
The Lobster House will be re-purposed to function as one of four options: an event space, a market hall, a galley, or a shelter for picnic tables. Along with this project, there will be plenty of opportunity for other commercial space that will also contribute to the revitalization of the area.
Establishing an environmental strategy
Protecting the Fowler’s Toad habitat was something the Town was committed to, and has established a plan with the help of ecology expert Professor Lisa Campbell and Mark Kolberg. Expansion of the sand dune, toad habitat, and beach areas will add 10,000 square-feet to the protected area to support the current 1,600 square-feet of toad habitat identified on site.
In-depth public consultation has been the main driver in laying out the grounds for this project, along with funds coming from the Town’s parkland reserve, development charges reserve, and the sale of the northeast lost at 4152 Erie Rd. Once the development has been completed, it’ll be interesting to see how both commercial and residential real estate around the project impact the final result.