To the Editor:
Port Elgin Beach Preservers is a group of concerned taxpayers, homeowners, cottagers and visitors that want the Port Elgin Main Beach to remain natural, beautiful and accessible. This group favours revitalization but not wholesale Commercialization.
The Port Elgin Beachfront is for Families … it is Not for Sale.
1. Stakeholders were not fairly and openly given an opportunity to say what they wanted to see on their waterfront. As per the 2013 Waterfront Master Plan, one of the four recommended initiatives was “an annual survey should be done at the waterfront asking our residents and visitors what they want at the waterfront destinations/zones. Tell us what you think about the waterfront?”
“Survey will ascertain from our customers (visitors and residents) what our Town Staff, our Visitor Information Services, and our local stakeholders can do to meet the visitors’ and residents’ needs with with expectations in regards to:
- Existing waterfront locations/buildings and their facades
- Businesses and opportunities they would like to see at the waterfront
- Visitor Centre way-finding signage and building signage
- Hours of Operation”
(Waterfront Master Plan 2013 – Page 14)
Surveys were never done, not even in 2019, when resident and visitor input would have been vital to decision-making.
2. Only one Bid was tendered and accepted during the Request for Proposal (RFP) Feb.4 to March 12, 2019. The Town reserved the right to amend the Timeline for the RFP. We believe the Town should re-issue the Request for Proposal in order to get more bids from other developers. Other RFPs often only receive one or two bids (i.e., the Concession stand at the Plex), however, this proposal will have a lasting impact on the Town and Taxpayers for years to come. Revitalization of the Town’s most significant asset must be done right!
3. The financial risk to the town has not been addressed. The Proponent and his group have no experience in a development of this magnitude. The history and financial viability of this group needs to be carefully scrutinized .
4. The online survey on the Town’s website was only up for two weeks: July 24 to August
5. The survey was written after the one proposal had been accepted and a
Memorandum of Understanding signed: No wonder many residents felt the survey was skewed toward the already agreed upon proposal. The Town survey was written with a view to obtaining the public’s views about the Cedar Crescent Village proposal. The results of the survey showed that 75% did NOT consider the Banquet Hall extremely or very important.
6. A 300-person Event Hall/Conference Centre is too large. It is multi-storied and will cover thousands of square feet. It will have an impact on beach-goers, traffic, parking, and alcohol consumption. A busy beach waterfront is not the place for such a large meeting hall. It should “not block important public view corridors”
(Waterfront Master Plan 2013)
Currently there is a serious shortage of retail and service staff in the Community of Saugeen Shores. Staffing issues have not been addressed.
7. The Ad Hoc Committee met twice. Their mandate was 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. Council is not bound by a recommendation and will use the recommendation as one input into their decision.” (page 1-Waterfront Project Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee Mandate).
At the end of 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. Despite ongoing and multiple requests of the Town and the developers for a drawing to scale none have been provided. The ad hoc committee and council members are being asked for recommendations on, and approval of, a plan in the absence of appropriate drawings from which to understand what is actually being proposed. How can a proposal be approved when we have no credible definitive plans of the proposed size, scale, height, footprint of the most significant build on the Beach in its history. At a minimum, once there are credible drawings to scale of the proposal , there must be full and robust public consultation. A recommendation was not reached at this meeting and yet members were thanked for their service, and the meeting ended.
8. The following areas need to be addressed: Communication with Saugeen First Nations, Archeological Dig, Environmental Impact, Parking Needs for Beachgoers and Boaters, Accessibility Issues, Noise Pollution, Light Pollution, and Traffic Study. Environmental Impact is crucial.
9. The Town has invested $20,000 toward a Tourism Strategy being completed by the Mellor Murray Consulting firm. This Report is a 3 year Tourism study to help officials understand the current tourism industry, with an action plan and defined roles and responsibilities. The Mellor Report will not be presented until at least Oct. 28th. Why is Town Council considering moving forward with this Waterfront Proposal, before this study and Tourism Report has been submitted .