Iconic Harbour restaurant set to open with a new five year lease
by Sandy Lindsay

May 10, 2015

Town Council

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After much discussion and debate, the owners of the Harbourlite Rest6

urant at Port Elgin Harbour, Joan and Tom Johnston, have signed another five year lease with the Town of Saugeen Shores that will take it to December 31, 2021.

The discussion revolved around the issue of public washrooms versus restaurant washrooms.  The iconic restaurant is located at Port Elgin Harbour and, is in fact, part of the same building that houses the Harbour Master's office and public washrooms that are used by anyone visiting the harbour, including boaters.

For approximately two decades, restaurant patrons have also used the public washrooms that are only steps away.  When the lease came up for renewal however, the Town wanted the restaurant to install two washrooms and, was only going to renew the lease for one year with another four year option based on completion of the washrooms.

According to Joan Johnston when the matter was first raised, it was an expensive proposition and one that was faced with problems.  First, there was limited space for washrooms to be constructed and the washrooms would be for customers only and, therefore, would have to be monitored. 

Councilor Dave Myette brought forward at the last meeting on April 25th that, during the former Mayor and CAO's tenure, it had been agreed that the Johnstons would, at that time, give up their existing restaurant washrooms so that the Town could expand the Harbour Master office and public washrooms.  In exchange, customers of the restaurant would use the adjacent public washrooms.

"At the last Council meeting, we had 11th hour information that the former CAO and Mayor said that the restaurant washrooms were given up based on expansion of the Harbour Office," said Councilor Neil Menage, "and now we're hearing that that information was not correct?"

Councilor Cheryl Grace also referred to the agreement with the former Mayor and CAO.  "Information indicates that there was no written agreement but what are the historical facts?  Was there a verbal agreement?  I think we have to know that."

"I again spoke with the former Mayor and CAO," said Myette, "and they reiterated that the washrooms were removed to expand the Harbour Master office.  I keep hearing the 'boater exclusive washrooms' creeping in.  If there are no plans for this, then what has changed to have additional washrooms built after 20 years?  The proposal to have a one year lease (an extension to five years contingent on washrooms being installed in the restaurant) - again, what has changed?"

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Joan Johnston carefully looks over the lease before signing with Director of Community Service Jayne Jagelewski

When it came down to the final vote to renew the Johnston's lease at last night's (May 9th) meeting, Council voted to renew the lease for five years without the installation of washrooms being a condition of  leasing.

The restaurant opens this weekend (May 14th) for the 2016 summer season.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016