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Advancing Crystal Beach and Fire Station 6: A Race Against Time

Submitted by Christine Whelan

Sept 30th, 2021, VOL. 3 ISSUE 3

INTRO

Advancing Crystal Beach is asking the Greater Fort Erie area to “Just imagine”. Just imagine an activity centre in Crystal Beach with yoga, line dancing, darts, mahjong and so much more. The post on their Facebook Group is being bounced around these days, letting everyone know they can get involved, first by signing a petition.

According to the September 13th update on the Facebook Page of Advancing Crystal Beach (ACB), “Our goal is to purchase Fire Station 6 (FS6) on Ridgeway Road and transform it into a local meeting place, a Village Hall. We have been waiting for a decision from the Town of Fort Erie.”

This not-for-profit, charitable organization with the mission is to work together with local residents, visitors and businesses to create infrastructure, services and events that foster community connections and cohesion, is now feeling like they are in a race against time.

The post continued, “Our situation became even more uncertain when we were informed that somebody had lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman’s Office of Ontario.  All such complaints are confidential both now and forever.  The only information the Ombudsman would share with us is that someone complained that the session to review our proposal should have been open and not closed.  The time to resolve that complaint could be weeks or months.

“We know there are other parties interested in purchasing FS6.  If the delay for the Council to consider our proposal takes long enough, our ability to launch and complete this project will be made impossible.”

ACB is asking the community to rally around this much-needed project, for the sake of Crystal Beach.

THE VILLAGE HALL would greatly benefit people of all ages in Fort Erie, says ACB.  There is a definite need and it would be open to everyone for recreational activities, information, instruction, and social connection without any affiliation to a specific group.  ACB predicts that population growth in Crystal Beach will result in an increasing demand for recreational services and meeting places. 

It will be vacated in the Spring of 2022 when its firefighters move into their new facility/headquarters on Ridge Road in Ridgeway. 

ACB has started a petition and invite all to support the project.

According to the online petition page, “The Crystal Beach Secondary Plan has rezoned the area which could allow for the removal of the historic Fire Station 6 and be replaced with a three-story building.  This would not only change the feel of our community but it would eliminate yet another opportunity to benefit our residents.  We want to preserve this building and the memory of the firefighter volunteers who have given so much to the community.

“In June, an online survey was distributed in our village via social media as well as hard copies for people without internet access.  More than 400 residents responded enthusiastically and there were at least 100 replies for funding, volunteers and donations. 

“We are currently in talks with the Town to allow us to negotiate for the purchase of FS6 before it goes on the open market in 2022.  Fundraising is currently underway.”

Recently, the organization has created a video that can be seen on their Facebook Page.

ACB Presented at the Town Council Meeting

Orma Bleeks, President of Advancing Crystal Beach, provided a Powerpoint presentation to Mayor Redekop and Town Council during a regular meeting via Zoom on Monday, September 20th.

The multi-page presentation describes how ACB intends, “to create The Village Hall by preserving the historic Fire Station 6 as an amazing social gathering and recreation centre for all of Fort Erie.”

It answers the question, Why Fire Station 6 for The Village Hall? To honour firefighters who contributed so much to this community and to preserve the heritage and history of Crystal Beach.

It includes the path of history of the work ACB has put into this project, it shows the support behind it, the benefits and the need.

Orma then voiced, once the Powerpoint presentation was done, the request for a set price of the fire station so ACB can initiate fundraising. “We can’t go forward until we get a set price or we’d just look silly to any potential major donors. This is our pressing need at this point.”

When asked by Councillor Butler, if they didn’t raise the money by the Spring, would they abandon the project, Orma assured her, “We’ve spent a lot of time and energy and there’s a lot of enthusiasm from the community, so we’re not going to go down without a battle.”

Butler stated, “It’s very impressive, what you’ve been able to accomplish.”

Mayor Redekop wrapped up the segment with, “We will have to figure out how we can move forward, with the Ombudsman still in the picture. I’ll have some further discussions with the CAO and the Clerk to see what Council might be able to do in the interim.”

To sign the petition to the Town of Fort Erie for The Village Hall, go to the Facebook Page, Advancing Crystal Beach and scroll down to find a post with the link to the petition.

Photos from the Advancing Crystal Beach Facebook Page

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