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Port Elgin’s Main Beach could see additional washrooms, outdoor foot cleaning stations and showers, family pods, and a manned information booth, if the Port Elgin “Beach House” project comes in at the right price.

During the January 9 Committee of the Whole meeting, Saugeen Shores Council approved $14,700 for tendering and administration with Steenof Building Services Group, to be financed through the Waterfront Master Plan Reserve, with the building tender closing at the end of February. Council will then make a decision whether or not to proceed.

Director of Community Services Jayne Jagelewski said that the Beach House will not impact towel-space and if approved would be constructed north of the current washroom facility, on grass-land and parking areas beside the Beachside Cafe in the area of the former water treatment building.

“It’s not just a washroom facility, it’s more of a meeting area,” said Jagelewski January 9, who said besides the water itself the Main Beach needed a “wow factor”.

“Being able to promote a waterfront that is fully accessible is something that we haven't been able to do in Saugeen Shores. And we know that areas such as Michigan have capitalized on that and certainly seen the impact of being able to promote a fully accessible waterfront.”

Jagelweski said that if the project is approved by Council following the tender, money for the project has already been ear-marked in the 2016 budget as debt repayment for 1.4 million dollars which includes a Beach House facility and a entrance gateway leading into the waterfront.

The drawings have been shared with Waterfront Ad Hoc Committee members who have provided input throughout this process. Jagelweski also stated that the Town will welcome public feedback through their website and social media.

From the report presented to Council, the facility will be “far more than a washroom facility” and will also accommodate future office space, either for staff or tourism opportunities, a food service area for future restaurant opportunities and additional storage space to ensure appropriate equipment is available for maintenance.

The building will also feature a 15 foot-wide breezeway which, in regard to restaurant opportunities, Jagelewski said would be “a great opportunity for a business to jump into”.

Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau said that this year’s draft budget will see the most investments in the waterfront that “we have made in a generation”.

“These are exciting projects,” said the Deputy Mayor, while insisting that staff and Council hold the people who are awarded the tenders to account and make sure the taxpayers be served correctly. “We also need to make sure that we build good facilities on Port Elgin’s Main Beach that are attractive and that build the tourism potential of this municipality.”

Charbonneau added “This is one piece in that puzzle in improving Port Elgin’s Main Beach.”

The tender’s approval was unanimous among councillors present. Mayor Mike Smith and Councillor Neil Menage were absent.

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