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First Public Meeting for residents to air concerns
by Sandy Lindsay

September 25, 2015

Town Council

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Council and Staff host 1st Public Meeting

The first of three public meetings for Saugeen Shores residents to air their concerns before Council was held Thursday evening (Sept. 24) in the Rotary Hall at the PLEX in Port Elgin

All Council members and several of the Town staff were in attendance, while only 12 residents attended, with only four bringing concerns and/or suggestions to Council.

In anticipation that there might have been several who would attend and who would want to speak, each resident was required to register. Three pre-registered through the Town, while the fourth was given leave to speak.

Marylou Hills of Southampton had three concerns that she brought to Council ... safety, garbage overflow and the new electric charging station at the Southampton Town Hall.

Marylou Hills

Under safety, Hills raised a concern over a derelict building in Southampton with a cracked plate glass window that was of public safety concern.  She also said that garbage containers along the main High Street during the summer months were "more often than not, overflowing ... and that more containers were also needed at the entrances to the beach in Southampton."

Community Services Director, Jayne Jagelewski explained that there had been increased responsibility at the Water Front for Town employees and that the issue would be looked at during the upcoming operations budget.

Hills also questioned the installation of the electric charging station for vehicles and asked why there was no opportunity for credit/debit cards to be used.  Fire Chief Phil Eagleson explained that it was operated through the swiping of a phone "app".

Greg Schmalz of Port Elgin raised his on-going concerns with the wind turbine at the UNIFOR (formerly CAW) Family Education Centre.

Greg Schmalz

"We have accessed, under the Freedom of Information Act, evidence that testing results of the turbine show serious non-compliance.  Furthermore, UNIFOR's engineering consultant has failed to complete the required two-year scheduled testing required by the Ministry of the Environment."

According to Schmalz, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change are proposing new regulations that require a wind turbine to have a safety setback of 550m.  The UNIFOR turbine is as close as 210m to some homes and, under the new regulation, would not have been approved today.

Schmalz also handed out a detailed map setting out the noise calculations in decibel measurements in the area around the turbine.  "There have been 300 complaints from residents living near the turbine," said Schmalz.

Mayor Mike Smith said the intent of the public meeting was to gather information and,  appreciated receiving the data on decibel measurements.

Speaker number three was Gabrielle di Francesco, who has retired in Saugeen Shores. 

Gabrielle di Francesco

She questioned whether or not the town is looking for economic development opportunities here and compared it to Niagara on the Lake.

"Is the community looking at using the full potential of the area's heritage or had grown 'complacent' ... we have to have a clear vision of who we are, where we want to go and how we want to get there.  We need to ask people to come and invest but how do we capitalize on the heritage without losing it."

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The fourth speaker was Duncan McCallum of Southampton who raised the subject of asset management which, for Saugeen Shores, is three to hundred million dollars, with capital reserves of almost $9million. 

Duncan McCallum
[file photo]

"I want to ensure we get the optimum return on assets and two that are important are Westario, of which the province is saying that time is limited for these small, privately owned hydro distributing facilities and you (Westario partners) don't want to be the last at the table and, therefore, should be trying to maximize returned on that investment."

The second, McCallum pointed out were the two town-operated campgrounds that are not considered an asset value.  "Your campgrounds will return a projected net value of approximately $625,000, up 10 per cent over last year. Also, over the next five years, the town anticipates spending some $300,000 on capital, and overall it's a nice return."

McCallum went on to say however, that he would like the town to consider selling the campground land for development in stages.  "I think that land would be very desirable to builders who would want to build either residential properties, townhouses or condos all of which are requirements in Southampton where land is limited and in Port Elgin where the land is prime property
."

"The current return of $625,000 when compared to density and based on the average tax base of $3,500 might be175 properties, but that would need to be studied," said McCallum.  "That land could be worth several millions of dollars for development when you think of the development charges on those 175 properties.  Residential properties could account for several million dollars in addition to building permit fees, etc. and it could result in economic stimulus for the business community."

"I don't think those people in the campgrounds spend very much in the community on their residence and certainly not nearly what homeowners spend.  The community also provides free hydro, free water and free sewer so you're giving away approximately $160,000 a year.  I am not suggest you sell it but that you (the town) embark on a study to optimize the value of that important asset."

McCallum asked that it be considered when budget deliberations begin in the fall and perhaps for the Town to  commission an independent, knowledgeable professional to study how to optimize the value of that asset.

Councilor Neil Menage asked if a resident brings forward a suggestion with a request does staff follow it up or does it need a motion to be on the table at a future Council meeting.

"A notice of  motion can be brought to Council by any Councilor," said the Mayor, "but this is the first kind of meeting we've had like this.  I know though that staff will be bringing a report and this should be an item at budget time to look at some options going forward."

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Friday, September 25, 2015