The historic village of Port Dalhousie, once neglected, is being revitalized.
By mid-2013, Port Dalhousie’s cherished heritage district was at its lowest point in its long history. The condo tower development, which the OMB approved in 2009 despite objections from City Council and an overwhelming majority of the residents, were in limbo. The developer demolished the historic Port Mansion and then purchased a number of other heritage buildings, closed the existing businesses and left them empty. Port was a dead village.
In December 2013, the Port Dalhousie Conservancy, a volunteer community organization held a public meeting to seek community input. The meeting was extremely well-attended and the feedback was presented to City Council which took action by enforcing the City Property Standards By-Law on the vacant buildings. Volunteers also formed a Renaissance Committee to develop action plans to resuscitate Port. These action plans were well-received by the City and a Port Dalhousie Beautification and Works Committee (BWC) was formed in 2014 to spearhead implementation.
Since then, the BWC, with the support of City, Regional and Federal governments, and the Port Dalhousie Business Association (PDBA) has spearheaded a number of projects that have radically improved the looks of Port and the feelings of our residents. These include: flower pots in key locations on the main roads; repair of the retaining wall at Lock and Main Streets; upgrading of the Henley Grandstand entrance and; creation of a new park next to Lincoln Fabrics. In addition, new businesses have opened including Acqua Restaurant and Balzac’s Coffee and, two local entrepreneurs are restoring the historic Lion’s Hotel with new businesses scheduled to open there before year end.
While the tower project is still in limbo, the village has improved dramatically and progress should continue. I have been a volunteer with the Port Dalhousie Conservancy, Renaissance Committee and BWC. Now, as a City Councillor, I also represent the City on the PDBA board and work towards enhancing the business climate and attracting new businesses. Port is definitely coming back to life.
N. Carlos Garcia is a Councillor Ward 6 Port Dalhousie