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Battle For Ridgeway: Gathering Resources to Stand Up for Their Small Town

Christine Whelan FEO, May 9, 2024, VOL. 5 ISSUE 18 

This grassroots movement is organized, passionate and ready to fight against the development in their small-town neighbourhood and the risk of more to come.

The Battle for Ridgeway first introduced itself to the rest of the public by posting on social media, explaining its mission, “to save the heart and soul of our beloved village of Ridgeway from overdevelopment.”

The currently proposed development is for 436-440 Ridge Road, located in the backyard of homes on Ridge Rd., Hazel St., and Prospect Point Rd. N.

The group has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for expenses that are needed to save this property such as lawyer’s fees.

To keep everyone involved in the loop, as Dave VanHelvert, lifetime Ridgeway resident and owner of the property that backs onto the proposed development space describes it, there is a list of 65 email addresses, networked to stay informed, involved and ready for their next move.

The Space

I met with Dave at his home last month, to walk the property, to see what the neighbourhood sees, and fears will lose.

“Of the trees on that property — there are 149 trees, according to the tree report — 140 trees are slated for removal.” He added, “So are some trees that are on the four properties along the back,” pointing to his back property line.

Red-headed Woodpecker

This woodpecker has been seen frequently in the trees in the backyards of this neighbourhood and beyond since 2019. Several photos have been taken. These sightings have been registered with the National Heritage Information Centre.

The red-headed woodpecker is protected by three pieces of legislation: the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Species at Risk Act and the Endangered Species Act.

The Open House

A Public Information Open House Meeting was held in the Town Hall atrium on February 28.

Dave recalled, “They had easels set up with their renderings of what might be developed. No speakers. Nobody to meet in person.”

Meeting: April 18

A Special Council Meeting was held at the Fort Erie Town Hall on Thursday, April 18.

According to Dave, the chairs were filled, and people were standing against the walls. A head count was done. There were approximately 80 people in attendance.

“It was just a fantastic turnout,” Dave remarked, breaking it down, “There were four people there who were two owners, a daughter and representatives from Upper Canada Consultants. They were the four who were in favour. Everybody else in the room – opposed.

“I was impressed with the questions the Councillors and the Mayor asked of the developing team. They were pretty important questions.”

Dave described the several presentations from residents as moving and spoken from the heart. He said it was a good balance for those who were trying to be systematic in bringing necessary points forward in their presentations. A well-researched PowerPoint presentation was designed and provided by resident, Kim Brunton.

“I spoke to a lot of the people at the open house and I came up with a list of eight of the top major concerns: overwhelmingly opposed to any sized apartment building, the height of the building, not compatible with the existing neighbourhood, too high of an increase to density, destruction of trees and natural habitat, water drainage concerns, how services would be provided to the buildings, potential damage to adjacent homes and properties.”

Changes

VanHelvert stated, “The owner wants to change the zoning from RM1 to RM2.” RM2 zoning allows for apartment buildings.

“For the apartment building, he’s asking for 19 changes to the parameters of RM2 so he can, for example, put in the five stories. He wants changes to the density because he wants to put in 91 units, changes to the size and number of the parking spots.

To view the April 18 Town Council Meeting with the Battle for Ridgeway presentations and Council questions, go to forterie.ca, and click on the little YouTube icon in the top right corner to take you to the collection of Town Council meetings on video.

Dave made clear, “It truly is a grassroots movement. This group, the Battle for Ridgeway, has come about because of something that a developer has applied to do in our backyards. Yes, we are called the Battle for Ridgeway but we could be battling for every neighbourhood in Fort Erie. We can’t sit by and let them do what they are proposing to do in this back yard because the next application might be for your back yard.

“And so, we’re fighting for everyone and we are willing to take on the battle. We’re organized. Everyone is more than willing to do the work. Is it expensive? Yes, it’s super-costly, but we’re trying to fundraise to offset the costs.”

On April 20, the neighbourhood held a fundraiser with entertainers volunteering their time. They have a community garage sale coming up on May 18 at 451 Prospect Point and a Trivia Niagara coming up in June

If you want to donate to the GoFundMe fund, the name of the page is, Save Ridgeway: Preserve the Charm, Stop Overdevelopment.

There are no upcoming events at this time.