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Crystal Beach condos get high court approval

Opponents of the proposed Crystal Beach Gateway condominiums in Fort Erie suffered another setback in court this week when the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed a civil suit against the Town of Fort Erie and the developer.

Time is running out for critics of the controversial 12-story condo to pull a rabbit out of their hat.

"It's a major setback," said Sharon Bowers, a U.S. citizen who lives in Ridgeway, Ont.

"I feel like we're Sisyphus, taking a rock to the top of the hill only to have it slide down again. It seems like our lot in life," she said.

Fort Erie Mayor Doug Martin, a staunch supporter of the project, hailed the court's decision.

"It's been a long journey from the time we decided to go ahead with this until today. I think it's time that we put this aside and move forward as a town," Martin said.

Judge Glenn Hainey rejected all of the plaintiff's arguments in rendering his decision upholding the town's contractual arrangements with the Molinaro Group, the project's developer. Arguments were presented in Toronto on Feb. 8.

Bowers said it was hoped that the force of the opposition, and court delays, would wear down the developer, but that hasn't happened.

Critics of the Bay Beach project have argued the tall condo building will not fit in with the town's ambience. They also say proposed amenities such as new washrooms, a beachfront promenade and community pavilion are not sufficient for the town to surrender property to the developer.

Bowers said she feared the development would convey the impression that the beachfront property around the development, which will remain public property, was off-limits.

The Molinaro Group has said in the past that it would not begin construction until a certain percentage of condos are sold.

An appeal is still possible over the next 30 days, but the plaintiffs may be discouraged from doing so after Hainey, in his 12-page ruling, ordered them to pay $135,774 in costs to the town and the developer.

In November 2010, the Ontario Municipal Board had issued a ruling allowing the project to go forward.