List of communities putting beach developments on hold is growing says reader

Dear Editor:

Despite repeated public pleas to scale down and maintain distance from the water’s edge, plans for the Cedar Crescent Village (CCV) have changed very little. Having participated in several Waterfront Master Plan (WMP) workshops, I had confidence the WMP would be the roadmap for any new waterfront development and I looked forward to any future enhancements. CCV however, deviates too far from that map. The WMP clearly recommended LOW-RISE buildings and maintaining sightlines/public view corridors for everyone.

Instead of sacrificing so much precious sand beach with 3 separate large-scale buildings (event centre, kid’s zone, and market buildings), why not consider just ONE multi-purpose building to run them all? One thoughtfully planned and well-executed multi-use building is more likely to be an efficient and cost-effective use of space than 3 separate dedicated permanent buildings. People come to the lake for unique, outdoor experiences, so continue to promote those wherever possible and use indoor spaces as needed.

If development is going to be phased in, and I agree it should be, by limiting construction to the off-season, peak beach season disruptions and potential long-term harm to our tourism/branding can also be avoided. I hope the business model of phases will be evaluated before sacrificing more valuable sand beach for additional dedicated buildings/amenities that may or may not be required.

I’d encourage the public to read the lease. Some highlights are:

1) Lease is an unprecedented 50 years less 5 days (50 yrs is considered selling)

2) Payments are calculated on footprint of buildings only, not total sq. ft. of occupied space. This only incentivizes multiple storeys, larger patios, common areas and outdoor amenities (e.g. courts, rinks) because they don’t pay for these spaces.

3) Lease is only $2.50/sq. ft. (fair market value??) on buildings footprint only (approx.30,000 sq. ft.), yet CCV will occupy almost 100,000 sq. ft. of prime waterfront real estate.

4) Non-competition clause gives investors total business control over the entire Main Beach area (from Elgin to Izzard St. – past Beachside Café).

5) They can provide services in lieu of lease payments. How’s this truly monetized and accounted for? I would like examples and further explanation.

6) The large venues open 18 to 20hrs/day, potentially up to 365 days/yr. Deliveries/waste and snow removal/maintenance, etc. will likely be outside operating hours, so NO peaceful downtime on this beach is a frighteningly real possibility. Hours/#days in this lease need to be refined and more restrictive, to be more respectful of the boaters/residences nearby that will significantly impacted (also in the WMP). “Closing” was originally promoted as a more reasonable 10PM; early 6AM openings never even mentioned,

CCV was not to become a “personal fiefdom” but, after reading the lease, I fear it could. I feel this lease is great for the investors and is protective of the town’s interests, but it offers little protection for the community or the environment, and it gives CCV unfair advantages over existing Saugeen Shores businesses.

Our PUBLIC BEACH is already being critically challenged by a rapidly evolving shoreline. During these uncertain times, I sincerely hope Saugeen Shores will join forces with the growing list of lakeside communities now actively engaging in shoreline restoration/protection strategies and are putting their pursuits for new development on hold (e.g. moratoriums being placed on major new developments for one year).

This lease is only signed in principle so I urge Council to pause, taking the time necessary before next steps toward approvals of such a large build on our waterfront. The beach environment also needs time to recover once the intense breakwall re-construction work is completed. I believe a charrette would benefit all parties. Working together could uncover something that meets everyone’s goals while keeping the beach environment a priority.

Steve Rolland
Port Elgin