The Passion of Port Dalhousie

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes Lately, I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about what’s been going on in Port Dalhousie. Most recently, CHCH updated us on the ongoing saga of the sad state of the neighbourhood and it’s potential for greatness. This just goes to show that while it sometimes feels like it’s all doom and gloom […]

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


Lately, I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about what’s been going on in Port Dalhousie. Most recently, CHCH updated us on the ongoing saga of the sad state of the neighbourhood and it’s potential for greatness.

This just goes to show that while it sometimes feels like it’s all doom and gloom in our waterfront community, there’s still hope! In fact, I’m confident that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s all because there is passion in Port Dalhousie. I recently had the chance to chat with Ed Smith of the Port Dalhousie Beautification and Works Committee, and let me tell you, there are big plans for Port!

Why St. Catharines loves Port Dalhousie

Let’s be honest here, what’s not to love? One of St. Catharines beautiful Heritage Districts, you get the best of everything with a quaint village feel. Beyond the beach, Lakeside Park, the carousel, marina, shops and restaurants, is an eclectic mix of homes in an inclusive neighbourhood with varying income levels. And with the historic buildings just seconds away from Lake Ontario, it feels like everything has a story.

Preserving the Passion of Port Dalhousie

We’ve all heard the saying, “All good things must come to an end,” but the end isn’t here for Port Dalhousie. Yes, we are still watching and waiting to see what happens with the condos, and the pier is shut down for the time being, but that doesn’t mean all is lost.

In the words of Ed Smith, “Port Dalhousie is a gem in the crown of Niagara Region,” and I couldn’t agree more. If you know me, you know I’m into the history of our region, and Port Dalhousie is full of it. It was the end point of the first three Welland Canals, is home to the Port Dalhousie Carousel (celebrating its 110th birthday this year!) and has hosted the Royal Henley Regatta for 133 years. And soon, it will have another story to tell with the Pan Am Games coming to Martindale Pond in July.

Ed is the epitome of Port passion, remembering what it used to be and striving to make it something more.

Ed Smith quote graphic

A Plan for Port

The Port Dalhousie Beautification and Works Committee is a group of volunteers involved in cleaning up the public realm of Port and fundraising to catch up on the much needed maintenance and implement new initiatives to bring Port back to its former glory.

The Port Dalhousie Beautification and Works Committee (BWC) has a few key projects that would put Port back on the map. The BWC has a full presentation outlining exactly what they would love to see happen in their community, and I had the chance to go through the presentation with Ed. They have ideas, that BWC, and they need us to all get on board!

The World Renowned Henley Regatta Course and Grandstand

When you think of world renowned sites, like our very own Henley Regatta Course and The Craig Swayze Memorial Grandstand, you want beauty. Something people will take photos in front of and talk about for years. I’m not saying that our current Grandstand entrance won’t be talked about, but it will be for the wrong reason…

Grandstand now

The BWC has done the work to get plans, pricing and sourcing to make the Grandstand something to be proud of:

proposed grandstand

This is what the entrance to a world renowned site should like! According to Ed, plans are in place and now it’s just waiting for approval to start construction. Unfortunately, it won’t be ready for the Pan Am Games, but Ed is confident we’ll see some changes by the end of the summer.

Road barriers

If you have driven down Dalhousie Avenue, you’ve seen this:

dalhousie avenue

Remember, Port Dalhousie is a place full of heritage sites. This is certainly not one of them. Why not replace these metal road barriers that are littered throughout the community with something a little more cohesive with their surroundings:

dalhousie avenue 2

It’s pretty amazing what those little improvements can do, isn’t it?

Old Lock One

In 2007, the City of St. Catharines revitalized a small walking path and park at the original Lock One. It was a well-kept spot perfect for watching the boats come in and out of the marina.

lock 1

Well, as the years went by, this area fell into disrepair:

lock one now

The BWC has been on the City of St. Catharines to clean this area up and, although it was quite a fight, we’re starting to see some maintenance begin again. It has been clear cut recently and is not nearly as overgrown as it was last summer, but it still isn’t the beautiful place it was in 2007.

Main Street Retaining Wall

When you head through Port and hit the four-way stop, it’s hard not to see the crumbling retaining wall heading up the hill to Dalhousie Avenue.

retaining wall crumbling

Because this is a Regional Road, the BWC has taken this eyesore (and possible safety hazard) to the Niagara Region, asking them to fix the wall with something like this:

retaining wall new

The Region has had an engineer come out to perform an assessment, but it has been reported that the wall is still safe and should be re-assessed in 3 years. In the meantime, the Region has filled the cracks and painted the wall…It looks great!


Hydro Wires and the Port Canopy

The hydro wires throughout the neighbourhood have created what the BWC has dubbed “Frankentrees.” The canopy is suffering to make room for unsightly overhead wires.


It’s a shame for mature trees to be chopped in half to make room for wires that don’t work with the heritage landscape. The BWC has been in talks with Horizon Utilities and Hydro One to find out the feasibility and cost associated with burying hydro lines so the Port neighbourhood will look more like this:

no wires

The Waterfront

I’m not talking about the beach, but the channel that runs behind The Legion. Right now, nobody’s really sure who it belongs to and who should be caring for it, so it’s a bit of wasted space.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 2.40.41 PM

The BWC is in talks with community groups and the City to put this space to better use. Europeans have figured out how to best use public space, and the BWC would love to see a public gathering space that encourages people to sit and relax next to the waterway.

couple is sitting on the embankment


This isn’t even the BWC’s full list! After talking to Ed, I know that the revitalization of Port Dalhousie won’t be quick, there’s so much that we could do — but it can work! I’d love to see some, if not all, of these proposed projects brought to life; Port Dalhousie could be back in business and better than ever!

If you are passionate about Port Dalhousie and want to help the BWC reach their goals, check out their IndieGoGo campaign here.

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