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Project manager sheds light on unfinished Black Creek development

Bryce Ivanchuk, the project manager for Royal Niagara Development Corporation, says his hope is to breathe new life into the development of the River Trail Phase 2 subdivision that’s been left stagnant for years.

The proposed subdivision on Black Creek Road has become an eyesore for Black Creek residents for some time as several schedules for completion of the project have passed. For years, residents have been left to look at the mounds of unsightly dirt that have been piled high, overgrown grass and pooling water left behind, which has caused drainage issues for those whose properties back onto the development.

More than 30 residents packed inside a small room at the Black Creek Community Centre last week to hear about what’s going to be done to bring the project to completion. The crowd heard from Ivanchuk, who answered their questions.

The meeting, which was held on Jan. 31, was hosted at the request of various community members due to the lengthy construction delays associated with the development.

Ivanchuk, who’s been in the development business for 20 years and resides in Niagara-on-the-Lake, told the crowd he signed onto become the project manager for the developer about six months ago.

He said he’s been involved in successfully rolling out subdivisions in NOTL such as phases one through four of Apricot Glen, which consists of single-family homes, as well as St. Andrew’s Glen, which consisted of condominiums and intends to successful roll out the subdivision in Black Creek.

How he’d come to be involved with the development in Fort Erie, Ivanchuk said he “stumbled on it through some people” through Peter’s Excavating that were doing some work for him.

“I had driven through (the site) and I hadn’t known much about it,” he said.

“If you asked me five or 10 years ago if I’d find myself involved in multiple projects in Fort Erie, I probably wouldn’t have answered and said yes.

But in terms of development and growth, Fort Erie is “on the cusp of a pretty interesting decade,” he said.

He said there will be no changes to the plan for the subdivision which calls for 90 single family homes.

Most of the lots within the plan are 55 feet wide, which in the current development environment, are large and wide.  The vision for the homes consists of masonry stone, wood and cement siding, with timbers and king trusses.

“When you go through Niagara in new age planning and new age development, you’re seeing 35-foot lots, 40-foot lots. You barely have a front door and a garage door to pull into the driveway. The one thing I love about this project is everything is 55 feet. By today’s standards, it’s quite a spacious neighbourhood,” he said.

According to Ivanchuk, the project has passed through a few different owners’ hands and has been in the works for “at least six to seven years,” and that’s one of the reasons why the project will be renamed South Shores.

“This project has had a few bumpy starts and abrupt halts. That’s why we thought it was necessary to rebrand the site and give it a fresh face moving forward.”

Ivanchuk said builders he has worked with in the past and trust have come on board. These builders include D.R.T Custom Homes and Renovations, Impero Luxury Homes and Niagara Pines Developments.

The subdivision will be rolled out in phases and is expected to be completed within three years.

He said installation of underground utilities is already underway.

In April, Ivanchuk said plans for the pond and park will be completed.  The property will receive a complete makeover with grading to level the property and ryegrass will be planted in areas where construction won’t take place right away.

By June, Ivanchuk said he expects four to six homes to be under construction and is anticipating having the first phase of homes sold out, with new residents living in Black Creek in time for October of this year.

When asked what is different this time, Ivanchuk said it’s the experience everyone brings to the table.

“From project lead to consultants, we have a team that has participated in several successful developments, a strong market and increased land values and we’re taking a controlled and disciplined approach.”

Ward 6 Coun. Ann-Marie Noyes said the undeveloped subdivision was one of the biggest concerns she heard from residents living in Black Creek while on the campaign trail last year. It’s also a project that was on the books when she served a previous term of council.

“It should have never been left for that length of time in the condition it’s in,” she said, and added, “Developers shouldn’t be allowed to strip land like this and let it sit years and years undeveloped.”

This isn’t the only development where it’s been left without any movement, she said.

“Something similar happened in Ridgeway and there were two big hills.”

Speaking about last week’s meeting regarding the South Shore development, Noyes said she thought it went well, and the residents were accepting of the answered they received.

“(Ivanchuk) spoke well. I don’t think he dodged any questions. He answered them,” she said.

“He acknowledged the fact that it was not done the way it should have been done and he made it clear to the residents, now that he’s the manager of the property, it will not continue.”

Noyes said Town staff who attended the meeting also “did a great job of answering questions” for residents.

Noyes said one of the items that weren’t addressed was lighting, but it’s something  Town staff are looking into.

The councillor said she will continue to keep her eye on the project though, and a meeting to provide residents with an update will be scheduled some time at the end of May.

She encouraged Black Creek residents to look at the Town’s website, which posted plans for the development, which shows where the sidewalks are going to go. The plans can be viewed on the Town of Fort Erie’s website.

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