Resident against possible future sale of Tourist Camps
by Sandy Lindsay

October 27, 2015

Town Council

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Long-time summer resident at Southampton's Tourist Camp, Phil Sheriff, presented concerns to Town Council on Monday, October 26th regarding a possible future sale.

Phil Sheriff

The concept of selling the Town Tourist Camps in Southampton and Port Elgin was raised at a recent 'Open Forum' town public meeting.

It was suggested at that time that the 'Camps' be sold  for more permanent development.

Sheriff, who has been a summer resident for CTourist Camps had become inter-generational over the years and, in fact, generated considerable revenue for both the town and local merchants.

Last year's net profit for the town from the tourist camps was more than $500,000 and Sheriff laid out possible scenarios for trailer sites at the camps vs. permanent building development.

1.  The number of building lots, and revenue potential with a conversion from recreational zoning to residential. Please note that the following values are estimated for consideration and for discussion purposes, a fully detailed study to establish firm values would be required to verify.

  • A. Trailer sites are approximately 30ft x 50ft Building sites of 60 ft x 100 ft have been assumed to allow for required roads and set back allowances and for easy math. Ratio of trailer sites to building sites is therefore 4 to 1.

  • B. Revenue generated to the Town Trailer site rent, $2,500 each x 4 = $10,000, 100% to the Town less expenses. Completed cottage property tax, $4,000 each x 1 = $4,000, 25% accrued to the Town after allocation to Education and Province of Ontario.

  • C. Property tax paid by trailer owners, varies with trailer value, 40ft x 12ft park model equals $450 per annum. $112.50 x 4 = $450.

  • D. Total annual revenue generation, 4 trailer sites = $10,450 1 cottage building site = $1,000

In addition, at the initial public open forum, it was said that the town provides "free utilities" for water, sewer and electricity.  "In fact," said Sheriff, "utilities are included in the seasonal rental rate and is definitely not free.  The town proposed three years ago to install [individual] electric meters but the idea was withdrawn when it was determined that the park(s) could not take on the role of utility distributor within the province.

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Sheriff also raised the issue that the Tourist Camp in Southampton is also in a potential 'Flood Hazard' area that would make re-zoning from recreational use to a more permanent development difficult.

Instead of considering the sale of the Tourist Camps, Sheriff feels that the Town should instead be looking at expanding on a more tourist-friendly environment to include street vendors, buskers and improved pedestrian accommodation and parking in addition to the possibility of setting up more 'manufactured home' parks similar to those in Florida."We [Tourist Camps] completely support the merchants by buying groceries, taking grandchildren to the Museum, visiting restaurants, etc.  A lot of money goes into the Marina in Port Elgin, why not for expanding the Tourist Camp facilities."

Councilor Dave Myette agreed that Sheriff raised several interesting points and counter-points to the open forum delegation.  He said that Sheriff's presentation of dollar figures leads to an increase of understanding for council members as to the position that Tourist Camps have in the community.

Councilor Cheryl Grace said that, "If anything, I hope that we look at spending more on our Tourist Camps because I think they are a valuable asset and I would like us (Town) to look at better maintenance, upgrades on the bathrooms and things like that."

Councilor Neil  Menage said that he wanted to see a complimentary staff report on the issues raised by Sheriff including, that "We should not be in the business of running businesses; we have to look at things like - how much could we sell if for on the open market; what could we do with that money; we are looking for new revenue streams."

"It's important that we make it very clear ... this is not an agenda item.  It was simply an item brought up at the first open forum held by the town," said Vice-Deputy Mayor Diane Huber.  "It is important though that we look at revenues versus expenses and profit that affects the tax levy.  I have to stress though that this is not agenda item.  This kind of decision would not happen without a whole lot of discussion and consultation.  I would hope that more people come out to the open forums to discuss items like this."

Deputy Mayor, Luke Charbonneau, (overseeing the meeting in the absence of the Mayor), also confirmed that the Town is not considering the sale of the trailer (Tourist) parks.  "It was simply a discussion that was brought forward at the Open Forum."

To read the complete Sheriff delegation, Click Here

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015