Just over the Peace Bridge, is a place that is near and dear to the hearts of many people who grew up in the region (US and Canada). It’s beautiful area of forested land in Fort Erie, which was once home to the Erie Beach Amusement Park. Over the years, a number of developments have popped up on the perimeters of this reclaimed land, but not until now has there been a threat by a developer to build a large scale project on the site. In response, a Canadian contingent has formed a coalition in support of preserving one of the last natural wooded areas along the lake – it’s an area that is frequented by cyclists, beach-goers, and hikers. It’s also a preserve of sorts, with wildlife depending on the parcel to survive, due to neighboring developments.
Back in 2014, Steel posted on the historic nature of the site, as well as the natural beauty that it beholds (see article). An excerpt from the post reads:
Before there was Darien Lake, there was Crystal Beach, and before that there was Erie Beach. Just across the mouth of the Niagara River from Downtown Buffalo is a beautiful wooded plot of land hugging the water as it transitions into the Canadian side of Lake Erie. I first discovered this beautiful wild patch of lake shore back in the 1970s, when I would ride my bike into Canada to do some exploring. I found this place at the western end of Fort Erie’s Lake Shore Road, where it dead ends into a wide dirt path through a forest, occasionally paved with broken slabs of concrete. The forest had grown up around a scattering of water edge ruins. These ruins are what remain of Erie Beach, the first lakeside resort destination for the people of Buffalo. It is a place of eerie (no pun intended) beauty.
Buffalo is lucky to have a couple of forested wildlife preserves at the Outer Harbor. This city would certainly be a different place without them. As the waterfront continues to get more and more popular, it’s going to be event more important to have those sanctuaries intact, for numerous reasons.
Now, For Erie is facing a serious problem, and many of the residents are stepping up do do something about it. One particular resident wrote to Buffalo rising saying, “I would like to let our friends in New York know that this historic area is now under threat from development. There is a large development proposed including close to 100 houses and a 10 storey apartment/condo building. Some of the ruins in the wood may be lost or damaged. There is strong opposition from the local residents. There is a petition online that can be signed. There is a public meeting at Fort Erie Town Hall on Monday February 5 at Town Hall, 1 Municipal Centre Drive, Fort Erie at 6:00 pm. I know that this old amusement park site matters to many New Yorkers.”
A subdivision has been proposed at Waverly Beach/Erie Beach called HarbourTown Village. We object to this proposed subdivision based on the following criteria: This location is used as a connection to nature for many Fort Erie residents and has been for many decades. It has historical significance and may contain important artifacts. It is one of the few remaining spring migratory stop-overs for birds in the Niagara region. This site is used by Red-headed Woodpeckers, bats, pollinators and other threatened species for feeding and breeding.
This development not only threatens Canadian wildlife, it also impacts the US, due to loss of regional habitat for migrating species. There should always be some protected lands along the waterfront, for birds and animals, and for people who enjoy the great outdoors. If you agree, sign the petition. Hopefully, a Canadian government official understands the importance of this, and declares the land “Forever Wild”, thus thwarting similar development advancements in the future.