Saugeen Shores Council approves 50 year lease for beach development

Saugeen Shores Council approved, at its Monday night meeting, the lease agreement for Cedar Crescent Village (CCV) development to be located at Port Elgin Main Beach.

In a recorded vote, at the request of Councilor Matt Carr, he was the only one to vote in opposition to the development, while Councilor Jami Smith excused herself out of the pecuniary interest of her husband who is part of the Social Athletics of Saugeen Shores (SASS) which could be using the new facility.

Carr said that he still has many issues with the lease agreement.  “I was not on board with this thing at the start but the proponents have done a good job and I know this has not been an easy road for anybody.  My biggest issue is the non-competition clause and, for that reason, I will not support this.  My main issue is that the proponents have to approve any use of the beach south of Elgin Street and north of Izzard Street.  I am not comfortable with that.”

Vice-Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt said that this is the most difficult decision he has had to make in his many years on Council.  “I have had a tough time with this and have laboured over it with many sleepless nights.  This is a life-changer and game-changer for our community.”

He asked if there was still the possibility of a group discussion (charrette) as this is a very significant agreement.  The CAO David Smith said that the proponents are required to bring the final decision to the town for approval but that they had to decide.  “I suspect they will continue to seek public input as to the final design.”

Myatt pointed out that members of the community did not object to all components of the development plans.  “They have done a lot of work here with time and effort. This has been a tough decision but I will be supporting it (lease agreement).

Mayor Luke Charbonneau also pointed out that when it comes to the final aesthetic design, there is a lot of control by the municipality built in and Council will decide.  “There will be decisions made by town administration, regulatory bodies, etc.”

Councilor Cheryl Grace asked the question of the CAO to explain the process used to determine what the appropriate amount of rent will be.

CAO Smith said that the lease rate is fair and appropriate.  “The town hired a fair and neutral real estate appraiser who carried out steps to arrive at a fair rate and that the town had also arrived at a rate considered appropriate,” said Smith.  “Although we used different methods, we both came to the same conclusion.”

According to Smith, the old mini-putt, train station property and overall square footage, they were paying approximately ten cents a square foot.  “If staff today used that same methodology, the proponents would be paying some $7,000 in rent and that did not feel appropriate.  Therefore, town decided to use the built-form methodology with costs varying between $1.30 to $3.50 per sq. ft. and therefore we decided that $2.50 would be appropriate.  The revenue coming into the town will be some 17 times higher than what the former tenant paid.  The external land appraiser was completely independent and came within $200 of the town’s figure.”

Grace also questioned the issue of accessible parking in front of the HarbourLite restaurant.

The CAO said that the proponents had listened to the issue of accessible parking for the Harbourlite and harbour boaters drop-off parking and he felt they would listen to concerns and that parking had been addressed in the latest design he had seen.

Councilor Dave Myette asked that, if the lease was agreed to, would that initiate an immediate clean-up of the area surrounding the old train station.

The CAO said that the town had not wanted to disrupt the possibility of services until a final design decision had been made and, therefore, the clean-up had been put on hold.  He also said that he anticipates, with the approval of the lease agreement, that clean-up would begin in six to eight weeks at a cost of approximately $15,000.  “The proponent will be responsible for all services coming into the development.  We (the town) realize that we have drainage issues and there may be some cost-sharing.”

Myatt also asked if the contentious ‘viewing tower’ was still being considered.

The CAO said that, in the most recent design he had seen, there had been an adjustment made but hesitated to confirm it given that a final design had not yet been submitted.  Mayor Charbonneau stressed that the final design will have to come before Council.

This final lease approval allows the project to proceed. As with any development, however, a number of approvals will be required as the project proceeds.

“Council has taken a significant step in the process of waterfront revitalization,” said Mayor Luke Charbonneau. “We look forward to working with the local proponents towards our shared goal of creating a family-focused destination at our waterfront, which aligns with the objectives of our Waterfront Master Plan.”

Read the approved lease