The SS Trolley saw its official launch in June of 2016 and has since been a key feature of events and tourism in Saugeen Shores.

Hub Staff

The SS Trolley began rolling down the streets of Saugeen Shores in the summer of 2016. According to their website, since its launch the SS Trolley has travelled over 154,752 kilometres and carried 48,658 passengers.

In a delegation to Saugeen Shores Council February 10 Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce President Steve Harris provided an update on the success of the SS Trolley and made a plea for continued financial support from the Town of Saugeen Shores.

Harris cited numerous benefits of the SS Trolley including the reduction of traffic and demand on parking, a fast track to events and sights in Saugeen Shores, historical information on the community and the promotion of local businesses and the scenic shoreline. Beyond tourism, Harris described the trolley as an important link between the communities of Port Elgin and Southampton and a key mode of transport to and from special events, festivals, graduations and more. With a lack of public transportation in the community, Harris indicated that local residents often make use of the trolley to travel to and from work.

“The Chamber owns and manages the trolley currently but it’s only possible through the community support that we continue to bring this trolley to the community of Saugeen Shores," said Harris.

The Chamber has an expected 2020 budget of $37,000 to $43,000 and after sponsorships, grants and in-kind support, the Chamber anticipates a projected loss between $15,000 and $18,500. Harris said that due to two last minute grants, one from Bruce Power and one from the Port Elgin Tourism Association, they were able to balance their budget in 2019.

“Managing the trolley requires significant human resources, both paid and we have been fortunate to have volunteers,” reported Harris.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau asked for clarification on the amount that is being requested from the Town.”The last two years we received $15,000 each year,” replied Harris. "We’re not asking for any more this time, so ideally if we could get $15,000 to help with our operations again that would be appreciated but we also understand if there’s a value less, we will definitely consider that."

Councillor Myette questioned whether the trolley could be considered for transportation grants from provincial or federal governments as it does get utilized by local residents for transit. Harris advised council that the trolley would need to be a year-round service to qualify for such grants.

Mayor Charbonneau informed Harris that the final decision would be referred to the 2020 budget which will be revisited before the end of the month.

Outside Council Chambers Harris commented on sources for the remaining $3,500 projected shortfall if the Town did follow through with their annual $15,000 of support for the trolley. ”Our focus from that point would be looking at private industry and sponsorships as well as any advertising within the trolley,” replied Harris. “We have also found in the past that people do provide in-kind donations,” he added.

If faced with the possibility of not receiving the full amount from the Town, Harris explained they would look at using a deficit funding. “That would be basically using funds that are within our Chamber’s," he explained, adding that it's not ideal.

Harris also clarified that the deficit is a result of the $5 rider fare being insufficient to cover the operating costs.

Harris made it known that the Chamber would do whatever is needed to keep the trolley running. “It was an investment that was made by the Chamber at that time that we feel has been a great investment within our community. A lot of people recognize it and it does have good ridership,” declared Harris. ”It’s definitely something that we do need in our community and helps to continue on with tourism and drive Saugeen Shores," he added.