Beachfront rally planned for Port Elgin Main Beach

To the Editor:

Please join us on the Port Elgin Beach at 4:00 PM on Saturday, October 5, 2019 where we hope to have a huge crowd of support for a sensible, sustainable plan for the revitalization of the beachfront.

Port Elgin Beach Preservers, a group of concerned taxpayers, homeowners, cottagers and visitors, are strongly in favour of beach revitalization and passionate about getting the best sustainable plan for the beachfront.

We have a number of concerns::

1. Stakeholders did not have fair and open opportunities to say what they wanted on their waterfront. The Waterfront Master Plan of 2013 recommended that an annual survey of residents and visitors be done to ask for opinions on waterfront locations/buildings and their facades, businesses and opportunities, etc.  These surveys were never done, not even in 2018 or 2019, when resident and visitor input would have been crucial to the decision making process now underway.

2. The financial risk to the town has not been addressed. The proponent and his group have no experience in development of this magnitude. The history and financial viability of each of the group’s investors needs to be carefully scrutinized.

3. The Town website survey was available for two weeks – July 24 to August 6. It was written after the one and only proposal had been accepted and a Memorandum of Understanding signed.  The survey’s questions were skewed toward the already agreed-upon proposal.

4. The proposed 300-person event hall/conference centre is multi-storied and will cover thousands of square feet. It will impact beach-goers, traffic, parking, and alcohol consumption. In the Waterfront Master Plan of 2013, page 3, two of the overall considerations were “provide continuous pubic access to the water’s edge, where possible” and “maintain important public view corridors”. This convention centre will hinder both.

5. The Ad Hoc Committee met twice with a mandate  to “ review the feedback received through the community consultation phase of the Cedar Crescent Village project and make a recommendation to Council on the proposal.”

At the second meeting of the Ad hoc committee, the members concluded they were unable to make a recommendation to Council until they had seen concept drawings of the project, which were unavailable.

N.B. Not one resident living in the beach area was invited to be on this committee…residents who will feel the impact of this development the most.

 6. The Port Elgin Beach Preservers feel that a full environmental impact study must be done.

7. Only one bid was tendered and accepted during the Request for Proposal (RFP) Feb.4 to March 12, 2019. The Town had the right to amend the timeline. We believe the Town should re-issue the Request for Proposal in order to try to get more bids from other developers.

8. The Town has invested $20,000 on a three-year study of tourism by Mellor Murray Consulting. The goal is to help officials understand the current tourism industry and develop an action plan for the future. The Mellor report will not be presented to Council until later this fall. Why is Town Council considering moving forward with this waterfront proposal, before this study and tourism report has been submitted?

Patricia Corrigan-Frank
Port Elgin, ON