To combat economic woes, the federal and provincial governments plan to pump billions of dollars into public works. At the same time, there's newfound local determination to resolve the problem of ownership of the best harbour on Lake Erie's north shore.
"Until the harbour issue is resolved, we can't go ahead," said Ben Veel, a local resident.
He was among about 120 residents who gathered last week to hear an update on 12 years of going-nowhere talks between the municipality of Central Elgin and Transport Canada. Those negotiations have been veiled in secrecy demanded by federal officials anxious to divest themselves of the once-bustling port that is now clogged with silt.
"I want to see the harbour situation settled," said Veel. "Money is available, but you need to know how to access it."
He credits Dan McNeil, a retired Canadian rear admiral, with exposing federal intentions by uncovering hundreds of documents under access freedom-of-information law. And he thinks port activist McNeil can help access government money.
"We appreciate Dan McNeil taking an interest," Veel said of the man who told residents the negotiations are useless and should be replaced with new ones that include Elgin County and the province.
That's because of high costs associated with environmental issues in the former commercial harbour with contaminated soil and sediments.
The harbour hasn't been dredged in years and its commercial viability has ended, frustrating users, developers and Americans with plans for cross-lake ferry service from Cleveland. more