LPAT grants approval for development on the south end of Boblo Island



By Ron Giofu


The decision is in on whether the south end of Boblo Island can be developed and it indicates that it may proceed.

The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) handed down its decision last week and granted approval of the subdivision on the south end of the island. The decision noted that “the proposed development is for a residential subdivision containing 172 lots and four blocks on approximately 32 hectares of land. There are a total of 220 units proposed through a mix of single and semi-detached lots, with an estimated 124 single detached lots (with a minimum of 24m frontage), and approximately 48 semi-detached lots (with a minimum of 13.7m frontage).”

The decision also notes that “the plan includes a central open space system that is intended to be dedicated to the town.” That system “offers protection to identified cultural heritage buildings and structures – a former dance hall and roller rink – that were associated with the island’s former amusement park use. Three is also a blockhouse located on the subject property; the draft plan of subdivision notes the blockhouse as an archeological where development must be avoided.”

Two more archeological areas are also “to be avoided until further study is completed.”

The development was subject of a three-day LPAT hearing at the Amherstburg Municipal Building in August.

As part of her decision, LPAT member Sarah Jacobs wrote: “The Tribunal finds, based on the uncontradicted planning, ecological, and traffic engineering evidence before it at the hearing that the proposed subdivision has appropriate regard for matters of provincial interest in accordance with s.2 of the (Planning) Act and the criteria set out in s.51(24) of the Act and is consistent with the PPS (Provincial Policy Statement). The Tribunal is also satisfied that the proposed conditions of draft plan approval are reasonable in accordance with s.51(25) of the Act.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said his first reaction to the decision was relief. He said many in the community don’t realize that Boblo has a “break-even point.”

“If it doesn’t reach its break-even point, it’s not self-sustainable,” he said. “It has a very unique set of needs. If we didn’t reach the break-even point, what happens?”

If the island couldn’t be sustained and costs like the ferry were to be inherited by the town, DiCarlo said it would have a devastating impact to the tax rate. He said the developers, Amico, have worked hard to try and accommodate development on the south end of Boblo and care about the environment just as everyone else does.

“Being involved on the inside, the developer has changed the development I don’t know how many times at an astronomical cost,” the mayor said.

The developers did “an incredible amount of work” to plan a development while at the same time maintain the beauty of the island, he added.

DiCarlo said most Boblo residents he has spoken to favour the development but noted “I think it’s fair to also recognize there are residents not in favour of it,” he said. “It’s always a question of where the majority lies.”

There are still steps to go through but the mayor added that Amico and the town’s planning department have regularly worked well together.

Damage estimated at $40,000 after air compressor goes up in flames


By Ron Giofu

A fire on the Boblo property along Dalhousie St. was confined to an air compressor with fire officials praising crews for not letting the damage spread.

The Amherstburg Fire Department was called to the property Thursday morning after a fire had started within a large air compressor at the site. Assistant deputy fire chief Lee Tome said firefighters did a good job containing the fire to the air compressor as fuel tanks and a trailer were within 15-20 feet of the compressor.

“This situation could have been much worse if the fire had impinged on the fuel tanks,” said Tome. “The crews did an excellent job protecting the exposures, being the trailer and the fuel tanks.”

Tome estimated the damage at $40,000.

Assistant deputy fire chief Lee Tome photographs a burned up air compressor April 28 as part of his investigation. Tome estimated the damage at $40,000.

Assistant deputy fire chief Lee Tome photographs a burned up air compressor April 28 as part of his investigation. Tome estimated the damage at $40,000.

“Contractors were working on the site using a large air compressor when they heard a loud noise,” he said. “Something blew on it and they saw smoke, sparks and fire almost immediately.”

Three contractors were working on site and while they originally tried to extinguish the blaze, it spread very quickly and Tome said they called 911 and moved away from the compressor. A piece of the engine was found roughly 30-feet away, Tome estimated.

Firefighters were on scene a little more than 20 minutes with Dalhousie St. between Gore St. and Park St. being closed for that period of time. The road has since been reopened.

There were no injuries.

American film crew working on Boblo boat movie


By Ron Giofu


A new feature length film is in production focusing on the life and times of the former Boblo boats.

Director Aaron Schillinger and director of photography Joe Flinders of Baby Volcano Films are producing a feature film about the Boblo boats entitled “Boblo Boats: A Tale of Two Sisters.”

The film is being described as “a Detroit fairytale about island amusement park, Boblo, and the iconic steamboats that delivered countless patrons to its shores for nearly a century before it was tragically shut down in the early ‘90s.”

SS Columbia

SS Columbia (Photo courtesy of Marsh Historical Collection)

Matt Stinson, public relations director on the film, said it is “a part documentary, part narrative film.” He said the director and director of photography both are from New York and became interested in doing a film after learning more about the SS Columbia, with that ship being restored for its future life in New York.

The release date of the film is scheduled for the first quarter of 2017, Stinson said.

“The business plan is to have the film released when Columbia is fully restored and employed into service on the Hudson River,” he added.

Production has been focused in metro Detroit and Toledo over the summer, aided by a mainly Detroit-based crew, though Stinson noted they already have completed some work on Boblo.

While a lot of the film is a documentary, Stinson added they are looking to use special effects to “recreate the magic that was Boblo.” The filmmakers are also aiming to film reenactment scenes.

Schillinger and Flinders have become associated with the SS Ste. Claire restoration project. Alongside the Ste. Claire project, the filmmakers are actively seeking a new home for the vessel “while at the same time capturing the struggle to restore one of Detroit’s last remaining testaments to a bygone prosperous era.”

“She is currently being threatened with the scrapyard,” added Stinson.

The Ste. Clair could be used as a dockside attraction, he continued, with revenue earned during its time as a dockside attraction being used to one day fully restore the vessel to where it could sail again. Getting the Ste. Clair seaworthy again is unfeasible at this point, he added, noting the $15-20 million cost to restore the Columbia to sailing condition.

The filmmakers have launched a crowdfunding campaign on, with Stinson noting they are trying to obtain $300,000 U.S. A barbecue party with Motown legend Martha Reeves has also helped to raise funds for the film.

“The first time I set eyes on the Boblo boats, I knew they had the same symbolic power as any fairytale,” said Schillinger added in a press release. “The Ste. Claire is Detroit’s last vestige of Boblo Island. She is a living fairy tale.”

Stinson noted the filmmakers are confident enough in the film to where they have put up their own finances and taken time away from their jobs to work on it.

More information can be found at