IMG 0957 560Dear Editor;

In a letter to Mayor Mike Smith and Saugeen Shores Council, dated October 4, 2016.

Today we present to you the Save North Shore Park petition. One thousand six hundred and fifteen people have signed the petition to date asking the Town of Saugeen Shores Council to protect North Shore Park. The online petition count continues to rise each week as the community becomes aware of the motion in principle Council passed on June 13, 2016 selecting North Shore Park in Port Elgin as the location to build a 2,435 square foot splash pad.

Friends of North Shore Park has always acknowledged - and continues to acknowledge - the well-intended civic enthusiasm evident in the work of the Saugeen Shores Splashpad Fundraising Committee. We congratulate this group on the success of fundraising events and urge them to continue to search for a location more suitable than North Shore Park. The petition is solely based on the proposed location.

For 110 years, the historic North Shore Park has provided passive recreational and relaxation opportunities for generations of locals and visitors. The quiet shaded space in the park is where people gather for family and community celebrations. It also provides a one-of-a-kind venue for a variety of fundraising events. The combination of both shaded and open passive green space within a public park in Saugeen Shores is rare and found in only two parks on our waterfront: North Shore Park in Port Elgin and the much smaller Pioneer Park near the mouth of the Saugeen River in Southampton.

North Shore Park, as it is today, has the right mix of features to make it one of Saugeen Shores’ justifiably great public places. This well-forested shoreline park is unique and attracts visitors and residents of all ages because of its natural beauty and tranquility. It provides the public a quiet and peaceful refuge for relaxation and reflection. Recent medical studies show that spending time in a forest has significant physiological and psychological health benefits.

Everyone benefits from a collaborative community process for public development. The citizens and visitors who currently use North Shore Park deserve to have a say in this process. We ask the Town of Saugeen Shores Council to take this petition as valuable constructive public input.

The collective voice of this petition speaks to the necessity and value of preserving and properly managing North Shore Park as a valuable public asset - as is.

North Shore Park presently needs proper management and care. Branches piled up from last spring still have not been removed. The light stands within the park need to be cleaned and numerous bulbs replaced. Furthermore, the bike path needs to be resurfaced and the washrooms will need to be renovated and made accessible within the next few years. Taking proper care of this historic public asset should be a priority in the upcoming budget. Council needs to concentrate on maintaining existing public assets and infrastructure before allocating our tax dollars to new projects.

North Shore Park needs TLC. It needs more trees and flowers - not a large concrete slab. Saugeen Shores needs to ask the local horticultural society to become more involved and seek a volunteer forester or arborist to help manage this public forest and give sound advice on planting the right trees in the open spaces and to replace trees badly damaged or destroyed by the strong winds coming off of Lake Huron. We have no control over the elements, but we certainly can control the chainsaws, heavy equipment and the infrastructure projects we choose to install in this beautiful heritage park.

The petition speaks to the absolute need for due diligence in making decisions concerning public assets that will have immediate and long-term effects on the community. The petition speaks to the need for transparency concerning the upfront public costs of installing a splash pad in North Shore Park along with the on-going maintenance and operating costs.

The petition asks council to protect this beloved historic park. One thousand six hundred and fifteen voices have spoken up in support of saving this tranquil shoreline park from this infrastructure project.

First, we ask that the motion passed by council in June choosing this location in principle be rescinded. Second, we ask that Council research a more suitable location within Port Elgin for the splash pad if it is determined at budget time that maintaining two splash pads within our community is fiscally responsible.

Most of all, we ask that council pass a by-law to preserve North Shore Park as a well-forested public green space. Let it be your political legacy that this council had the foresight to preserve this beloved historic natural public asset for the community and visitors. Protect this shoreline park so that future generations can experience and enjoy this tranquil one-of-a-kind treed refuge. North Shore Park is Saugeen Shores’ living tree museum.

The Friends of North Shore Park,
Jody Mahon,
Dave Hornsby,
Paul Knechtel

Related: Port Elgin Splash Pad location sees opposition