As a third generation summer resident of Saugeen Shores, I am disappointed that the public consultation process for a proposed redevelopment on Port Elgin Main Beach began after the summer high season. Summer visitors—many of them long term, annual visitors—should have had an opportunity to contribute in person to such a significant conversation. These are public lands. A more robust and representative process would lead to a plan that is more supportable than the one that is currently under consideration.
My extended family began vacationing in Port Elgin in the 1970s. Many are now full-time residents and property owners. Over the years, we have observed businesses on the beach come and go. We have also observed the impacts of similarly scaled developments along the shores of Lake Huron. In Grand Bend and Sauble Beach in particular, mixed use developments have had disastrous consequences for residents and the natural environment. It all seems painfully short sighted and will take generations to undo.
Saugeen Shores can and should take the long view and become a model for gentle lakefront improvement. Reconsider the existing train station and miniature golf course area. Incorporate a retail space for the marina users. Improve the promenade and landscaping along the main beach to create a stronger connection to the waterfront trails and park lands to the north. Move the proposed retail and convention centre aspects to the downtown area and support existing local businesses in the process.
Port Elgin Main Beach is an important and valuable municipal asset. Cedar Crescent Village, with its scale and multiple dimensions, feels like a solution looking for a problem.