The Port Maitland property at 2 Dover Road, where the old Hotel Exchange and Maitland Arms Hotel used to house and entertain tourists, is on the move back to its original purpose.

The present building was constructed after a couple of fires on the property, and the owner presently rents rooms on a long term basis.

With the aid of several different grant programs from the County, up to a maximum of $32,558, (pending budget approval) the owner proposes to renovate about half of the existing building as phase one of a complete overhaul, and then rent for short term occupancy to the travelling/ vacationing public. Other phases will follow including a limited service restaurant and renovation of the remaining units into vacation units.

Phase one will completely gut the interior to provide four units, including new plumbing and electrical, kitchen cabinets and new bathroom fixtures. Exterior improvements include new windows and doors to establish new entries for the units. Five units and a tearoom will be tackled in a future phase.

This project fits with the county’s tourism initiative. Port Maitland has long been a tourism destination and had a reported 130 rooms for rent in the early 1900s, according to a report written by senior economic development officer, Zach Gable.

He notes the hamlet is one of the few areas of publicly owned waterfront property and a number of improvements have been made in the area including upgrades to the Port Maitland Esplanade Park and additional public parking and beach access off Dover Street.

The existing lighthouse is a scenic draw while the pier is a popular fishing destination. There is a public boat launch in addition to private marinas along the Grand River. It is part of the county cycling routes.

Despite this, there are limited commercial enterprises in the hamlet itself to support tourism and this new development could eventually lead to increased spending in the community, Gable writes.