In summerlike conditions with warm temperatures, the Port Elgin Beachers Association held its annual general meeting (AGM) again on the beach at Gobles Grove.
More than 80 residents brought out their lawn chairs and gathered to hear and question, town representatives.
Beachers’ President Greg Schmalz said that ” … it is our attempt as a Board to deal with issues that affect our lifestyle.” He also pointed out that, because an injunction had been initiated by a resident regarding the proposed sewage pipe installation to be installed that would result in run-off of storm waters into Lake Huron at Gobles Grove beach, that guest speaker Mayor Luke Charbonneau could not be questioned on the subject under legality rules.
There was no doubt that residents wanted to hear what Mayor Luke Charbonneau had to say and also to ask him questions.
Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau said that the Beachers is a very important organization and delivers a lot of value to the community. “We are rapidly becoming a centre of excellence and a global hub for the nuclear industry. We have a huge amount of opportunity in the the community and we have to grab the ‘brass ring’.”
He went on to add that with growth comes challenges. “We have to facilitate appropriate growth that works for the people who live here. We are growing very quickly and have had more than 250 new home building permits and more than one million dollars in building permits overall and have seen an 8.2 percent growth.”
Along with the Mayor, were Deputy Mayor Don Matheson, Vice Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt and Councilor Cheryl Grace.
According to Mayor Charbonneau, one of the biggest challenges is how to finance big projects. “On paper, we are a high income municipality at an annual average of $120,000 income and a low tax value compared to the Provincial average. “These two factors mean that we get no government grants either from the Federal or Provincial level. That’s why we have established the Legacy Fund and, through modest tax increases, by 2023 we anticipate there will be $10 million in the fund.”
He also said that among major projects is the installation of a new supply line for water in Southampton to facilitate potential growth and the Federal Government replacing/repair of the Port Elgin harbour breakwall. “We are also working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a facility on the main beach.”
Charbonneau also went on to explain the new Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII). “This is an exciting development and we are to going to be working with global leaders. The NII will be bringing in people from around the world of innovation. We are beginning the hydrogen project at the community level with Saugeen Ojibway Nation.”
“We are very keen to work with the Beachers and I am open to communications and look forward to working together over the next year,” said Charbonneau.
He added that there will be public consultation to provide comments on issues but was interrupted by a resident who pointed out that the pipeline along Country Rd. 25 had been “… railroaded through without the Town listening to any residents.”
Charbonneau said that the Town is working on a Communications Strategy. “We can always do a better job on communicating.”