EDITOR'S NOTE: To date, no official proposal has been presented to Saugeen Shores Council for the waterterfront development as proponents and the Town have been exploring ideas and gathering feedback.

Three readers weigh in on the waterfront development at the Port Elgin Main Beach: 

Editor, Mr Charbonneau and Councillors,

Last month a group of concerned citizens, including my husband and myself, took to the streets to talk to people during the car show at Pumpkinfest to see what they knew about the proposed development on our beach. What struck us more than anything was that people (some of whom have lived in town for decades) had either scant knowledge about it or no knowledge at all. Furthermore, the annual surveys, a critical part of the 2013 Waterfront Master Plan, have not been conducted.

Residents of Saugeen Shores have not been effectively informed yet plans are being laid out for a large multi-story beachfront development, one which includes an observation tower and a conference centre with a capacity for 300 people. The limited survey that was done this past summer clearly indicated that the majority of respondents are opposed to a conference centre, yet it appears that this is an integral part of Cedar Crescent Village plan. It has been suggested that the proponents maybe be granted a 50 year lease, which is unprecedented.

We are not opposed to development, however something of this scope on public land needs more public input and adherence to wishes of the public. What is being proposed is not what some stakeholders want.

I would urge you to more consulting with and listening to the population you represent and serve.

Sue Glass,
Port Elgin Resident of 31 years

Editor, Mr Mayor and Councilors,

Our waterfront is an enviable asset that has been attracting people for many years. Everyone keeps returning because of its undeveloped, unspoiled, uncommercialized, natural appeal. We are lucky enough to live here and enjoy it at any time; visitors make large financial contributions to our economy to stay her for just a week or two. I’m not alone in stating that any large commercial addition, as proposed, will not improve its charm.

The multilevel proposal on the table absolutely contravenes everything that Port Elgin has ever stood for. Our beach should be protected, not developed and commercialized.

People have been coming here for generations to escape business, noise, chaos. Our beach gives them the simple pleasures they hunger for. They seek the old fashioned kind – sand castles, beach pails, children playing, swings, slides, ice cream, beach fries, snacks that are accessible in bare feet. We are a bare foot beach. Access isn’t a problem; the elderly, children and their parents can walk from their vehicles easily to the waterfront and carry their things.

I agree, wholeheartedly, that our beach is desperate for a good cleanup but this proposal is far too ambitious and far too large for our waterfront. This proposal belongs in the commercial district uptown or on the perimeter of town. Also, I don’t understand the rush to get it approved and why other proposals aren’t even on the table for review.

Locals and visitors alike come to Saugeen Shores for sunshine, simplicity and serenity. I think that this proposal will upset the delicate balance and relationship that we have with our waterfront.

I don’t know the condition of “The Station” but if it can’t be restored, what is wrong with replacing it? It’s an embarrassment in its present condition.

Why take away business from the already struggling main street? A convention centre, if necessary, would certainly be appropriate, and more visible on our main street and would complement other amenities like eateries and accommodation. Probably one of the planned new hotels already has convention facilities and dining included in their design.

Some years ago, someone was complaining about the carnivals. How do you think they will now react to a commercial enterprise of this magnitude with the potential increase in (convention and dining) traffic and the commercial construction and supply vehicles rumbling through our already congested residential neighbourhoods? What about the children on those streets?

Development and renewal is necessary, definitely, but on a much smaller scale – about a fifth of what is proposed. A little general/service/novelty store, like “The Station” would service the boaters and perhaps some cottagers. A concession stand of sorts, perhaps tied to the general store – maybe. Some miniature golf or other entertainment – probably. A large restaurant/dining facility – no. A convention centre – no.

Peter Little

Dear Editor, Mayor and Councillors,

The beach is a mess. Revitalization needs to be done but not at the expense of limiting access to the natural gift bequeathed to us. The decisions made will have generations-long repercussions and be a lasting reflection on the current Council.

I read the posts that people wrote lamenting “past years lost” and their “fabulous” memories of a “casino” on the beach, of midnight dances and “things to do.” And then I giggle at the writings of these same people poo-pooing the idea of having a “meeting hall” on the beach on other sites.

Did they forget their youth? Did they forget what they wrote earlier on another site?

Something needs to be done, however, to be clear, I do not think this proposal is the right one. In my opinion, Council should mandate that all new buildings be confined to the footprint as provided by the property established by Messers Hess / Waring / Jackman and Ferguson.

The Harbourlite and the Tuck Shop should be grandfathered in to any future development, there will come a time when these establishments need to be replaced, the current caretakers should not be forced out. However when the time comes to rebuild, they too should be confined to the footprint of their current establishment.

All new buildings should be built so they front (or back) onto Harbour Street, keeping the beach ahead of them.

Revitalize the beach. It needs to be done. Build a “new” casino, create new memories for the next generation, eliminate the what are now weed gardens on the beach and encourage activity on the beach.

If these restrictions are not to the liking of the current investors, there will come a time when the next developers will see the benefit to investing on the beach and still keep the beach and the sunset the priority.

To me, this current proposal is akin to the a tourist who plants their umbrella at the water’s edge, blocking the view of those that were already enjoying the view.

Let’s make the right decision, not jump at the first proposal.

Jeff Smith

See also: Waterfront public meeting well attended