At Monday night’s Saugeen Shores Council meeting (Nov. 9th), in the Open Forum prior to Council of the Whole, Port Elgin resident Steve Rolland attended the meeting virtually.
“I stared in disbelief at the size and scope and height of this project (Cedar Crescent Village),” said Rolland. “Now is the time for public consultation not before when there were so many unknowns. Most people want beach revitalization but not to this excess. I am a local resident and have never been given the courtesy of public consultation. I have very specific questions. Were the obligations met – specifically was the $150,000 deposit ever paid or not? Do the proponents have insurance coverage at this particular moment in time? The land appears to be in some sort of purgatory between the town and the lease holder. There are already several safety issues on the site. Also, why not wait for the new CAO next month and allow her to review all the agreement and specifically the CCV lease … she will be responsible for the community’s finances and objectives. I am asking that Council not make a decision on this project until there has been a review.
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Pier Donnini, a partner in the project, said that with COVID-19, he feels that local tourism within a 200 to 300km radius will be in great demand for the foreseeable future as people seek out locations with a perceived lower risk and more amenities will only be more important. “The future has not been cancelled and we have to move forward.”
“There has been ample public input,” he added, “and we are very confident that, when we looked back, we had a stated set of goals, a stated use for this land and … most people agreed to it. We are creating a space to play, eat, gather and explore. For the thousands of young families, their parents and relatives, this will become a focal point for a lot of their activities not to mention things like sports tourism.”
Donnini went on to say that when it came to design there were several challenges. “The three biggest challenges from the feedback received were ‘make it coastal’ and getting down to a design that makes sense and I think we have succeeded. Another challenge was the kind of building materials to use. In the end, wood and natural materials should be the winner. The last challenge was that there is no ‘back’ to the complex, everything is up front.”
He went on to say that the most recent design has been broken up so that it doesn’t “… look like one monolithic big piece of construction. There will be an outdoor seating area, outdoor kitchen and bar … a lot of flexibility … a second storey terrace with a viewing area … lots of natural light … skating pad … stage for events ”
“This has been an extremely public process from the beginning,” added Donnini. “We heard from many people many times and the original design included a substantial tower that has been removed. There has also been a lot of feedback from boaters about loading and unloading supplies so we have created a ‘driveway’ with temporary parking. The restaurant and event hall are also smaller than originally conceived.”
The overall project has been reduced by 10 per cent from 33,000 sq. ft. to 30,000 sq. ft.
Vice-Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt raised a concern whether or not the 2011 facade guideline for the downtown was taken into consideration. “We talked about creating a look and feel and there should be continuity between the downtown and waterfront. Is a report coming from the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA). The 100 year flood line and the impact of the design. Also, all obligations have been made including the $150,000 deposit.”
Myatt also pointed out that Phil Eagleson, Director of Protective Services, wears many hats and has many responsibilities, including development of the waterfront and overseeing the building department.”
Councilor Cheryl Grace asked what the new capacity for the event hall would be and Donnini said that it is dependent on the type of seating but projected up to 250 people.
Grace also asked if construction would be taking placed in July and August and what the ramifications would be for beachgoers. Donnini said that construction would be over one summer only and that portions of the development would be constructed more quickly than others. It is anticipated that construction will begin in March, 2021. She also asked about the peaked roofs and how people would be concerned about the height and whether the event hall could be used as an auditorium. “I was glad to hear that some features will be softened but I would like to see consideration given to the Port Elgin ‘tool kit’ when it comes to colour.”
The architect Grant Diemert said that the project would be completely fenced during construction but equipment would have to be brought on to the site. He also said that the services would be completed as soon as possible. He explained that the design admitted daylight and subdivided the roof. Doninni added that details, such as colour, are up for negotiation.
Councilor Matt Carr asked where the volleyball courts were going to be if taken out of the central court yard. Donnini explained that the project was committed to six courts at the expense of the developers.
Carr also asked why the design was showing asphalt over sand instead of a permeable surface. Phil Eagleson, Director of Protective Services, said it would be looked at when the site plan was completed.
Council approval is a step in the lease agreement that is required. The project will now move forward with the development of detailed site plans and construction drawings. Specific details of the design will continue to require council approval, as a part of the lease agreement that was passed earlier this year.
Final technical designs, including construction plans and a site servicing agreement, will be further developed based upon the designs as presented tonight. Council will have an opportunity to approve more specific details of the design as part of the site works and servicing agreement.
“This step of the project approval process is a requirement of the land lease and serves as a “check-in” by the Proponent to ensure the project is supported before investing significantly in engineering costs required to further the development of the design. Council is being asked to approve the proposed designs with regard for the overall size, quality and character of the project,” said Mayor Luke Charbonneau.
Council approved the design in principle for the project in addition to the preliminary development schedule.
“I am happy to see that the proponent considered comments from the public,” said the Mayor, “I’m glad to see this project advance.”