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“It looks like we have a trolley,” said Joanne Robbins, General Manager for Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce who, along with a committee of Chamber members and partners, has been devising a plan for a trolley service in Saugeen Shores.

Port Elgin Business Improvement Area (BIA) President and Wismer House owner, Jeff Carver presented a plan to Council on November 23 for the service that would run along the Shore Road between Port Elgin and Southampton and through each of the two downtowns.

Related: Seasonal trolley service proposed to council

“It’s a big project, it’s big money, we hope it does what it’s expected to do which is move (beachgoers) around into our downtowns, into our retailers,” said Robbins. “Get them into our downtowns for meals and visits or just to get them looking and saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t know they had an olive oil store... maybe we should come back or maybe we’ll get off the trolley.’”

Robbins added, “It’s like the train and it’s only going to cost people a loonie.”

The trolley, a 2001 Supreme Manufacturing model, was purchased from Connecticut, U.S., through a broker in Ingersoll. Once it’s over the border, the trolley will stay in the Ingersoll area for a time while repairs and certifications are taken care of.

“We’re looking at it arriving in town some time in April,” said Robbins, adding, “It’s not our colours by any means but that’s something we hope that Spruce the Bruce will help us with.”

Carver was excited and hopeful. “It’s a done deal,” he said. “We’re very optimistic that Bruce County, through Spruce the Bruce will be helping with some grant money... but more importantly we’re real excited to use the colour scheme and the branding, I guess, that is consistent with the tool kits and the branding patterns for both downtowns and utilizing those colours.”

Carver said that it was Scott Wark from Wark Service Centre and Grey Bruce Airbus who spearheaded the effort of actually tracking down this particular model.

“He was a Godsend,” said Robbins. “He has really helped. He kind of, you know, saw that we were floundering and took over because he knows vehicles and he knows what to ask.”

Carver added, “(Wark) is great at what he does, he has a very successful business and he deals with transportation vehicles all the time.”

Wark said the trolley that the committee settled on holds 35 people. “Mechanically the bus is in good shape from what I’ve seen through pictures, questions I’ve asked, stuff I’ve had the current owner do for me.” He added that there is a bit of body work that needs doing. “It’s going to be a neat unit, a neat experience,” he said.

Wark is also looking after filling the driver’s seat from the mid June to Labour Day season. “I’m thinking right now that it will be six drivers,” he said, adding that he will likely be hiring additional staff to fill at least some of the shifts. “This (trolley’s) going to run seven days a week, eight hours a day.”

“It’s definitely an exciting project,” said Tim Edgar, Branch Manager, TD Bank and committee member. Edgar was responsible for taking care of the financial details of the purchase. “I believe that it’s something that will help to unify the two communities. From the Chamber perspective, being able to move people between the two communities; from a tourism standpoint... it’s intended to bring people from the beach up and move people from one downtown to the other.”

Carver called it a game changer. “There is not another town in Ontario that can really boast this kind of thing, certainly not one our size,” he said.

Also helping with the process was Patrick Checknita from the Saugeen Shores Business Enterprise Centre, through the putting together of the plan.

“It’s a real collaborative effort... between Patrick Checknita and the business plan at the Business Enterprise Centre, and Joanne Robbins, you know, managing the project herself, and Tim Edgar, kind of making sure that the dollars and cents all worked out and Scott (Wark) for his expertise in knowing the vehicle and what we’d need and specifications and requirements for importing vehicles from the United States to Canada... it’s certainly a team effort.”

Carver added, “And the partners you’re drawing from... Southampton BIA, Port Elgin BIA, the Museum, the County, the Town, you know it’s very rare that you get a project in this day and age where it’s such a collaborative effort.” Carver said that all told it’s been two years in the making, and called it “a culmination of quite an effort” and “quite a feat.”

“The buy in and the excitement amongst the public is pretty incredible,” he added. “And what a service, right?”Trolley interior full