The developer who purchased a significant portion of the former Harry Gamble Shipyard at Port Dover says he must conduct an environmental cleanup before proceeding to construction.
Whether the construction of 375 waterfront condominium units goes ahead could depend on street closures that are attracting an increasing amount of grassroots opposition.
“The lands at 230 Chapman Street East and 2 Lynn Street are the location of the former Gamble Shipyard,” Lydia Harrison, Norfolk’s realty services co-ordinator, said in a report to the county’s public hearings committee on Sept. 8.
“Shore Developments Ltd. has indicated they took it upon themselves to have environmental site assessments completed on Lynn Street, 230 Chapman Street and 2 Lynn Street. These assessments indicate that each of the properties are contaminated and require remediation.”
The contamination is related to the many decades the marine industrial land was used as a shipyard. In a presentation to council, developer Blair McKeil said a good reason to convey the portions of Lynn Street and Bridge Street at issue is the old bitumen road beds in the area that should be dug up and carted away. McKeil estimates it will cost $800,000 to clean up the problem.
Shore Developments is seeking 34,280 square feet of road allowance. The only abutting properties belong to McKeil’s development company. The closures would unite two parcels while giving Shore Developments additional room to build away from the Lynn River floodplain.
At this point, there isn’t much support for the closures and some vocal opposition. McKeil told Norfolk council the municipality would not regret the transaction, adding he intends to do something impressive with the brownfield site.
“It’s not about the road,” McKeil said. “It’s about what comes out the other end when we’re done. We’re not here to take something away. We’re looking to add value to the community. This property has a lot of challenges.”
Last Tuesday’s deliberation is part of council’s new approach to complex development proposals whereby a separate meeting is devoted to strictly fielding public input. Several residents expressed opposition to the street closures, saying the sections involved provide badly needed parking downtown during major events such as Friday the 13th and Summerfest.
Others want to preserve the town’s history.
“Lynn Street was a main access to downtown Port Dover before Gamble’s shipyard, Kolbe’s fish plant, the canning factory, various mills and the feed mill,” Ron Kindree said in an email to Norfolk County.
“People came to town via Cockshutt Road before it was called Cockshutt and down Lynn Street into the centre of town. Bridge Street was the entrance from the east side of the river. To close these roadways is just another stab at the history of Port Dover and the founding families.”
The developer will review the proposal in light of the input received so far.
Harrison’s report says Shore Developments paid $3 million for the 6.3 acres of shipyard at issue. The report did not recommend a price for the streets, recommending instead an appraisal.
Ward 6 Coun. Amy Martin, chair of the Sept. 8 meeting, said major changes to the streetscape in Port Dover will alarm some. However, she advised the community to embrace progress as something that produces positive results if done right.
“Large-scale development is no longer a concept we talk about in this community,” she said. “Little by little, it slowly crept up on us over the years and now it’s loudly knocking on our front door.
“Development, change and growth are inevitable and don’t necessarily need to be feared or stopped. The scale, characteristics and dynamics of development can remain in our control. As long as developers continue to recognize and respect our community, its members, our history and heritage, we will retain control. Through adamant support of these elements, we can begin to feel comfortable with the unknown.”