Saugeen Shores looking forward to a year of celebration

As the New Year begins, Saugeen Shores is also heading into the 25th Anniversary year of amalgamation that brought the three communities of Southampton, Port Elgin and Saugeen Township together under one umbrella.

At the time however, it was an extremely controversial dictate by the Province.

On the recent Town podcast, ‘The Shore Report’, hosts Jay Pausner and Heather Hyde had the opportunity to interview former Mayors Mark Kraemer and Mike Smith along with Luke Charbonneau, today’s current Mayor.

According to Kraemer, who was the Mayor during amalgamation, there were several challenges in creating a single municipality from three, including avoiding duplication of street names, improvements to infrastructure, consolidating fire departments, public works and landfills, among many others.

Former Mayor Smith, at that time, was on the Town Council’s Transition Committee of the day. “I admired Mark at that time … he really lead the force to bring the communities together.”

Kraemer said that the thing he was most proud of was “…through the process of creating a single municipality, we created a municipality that was, and still is today, the best in not only Bruce County but western Ontario.  [In spite of]The challenges that were managed by the three Mayors, was the belief that we had something special, and that always percolated to the surface and was very obvious with the capital projects achieved over the past 25 years and that continue to be accomplished today.”

He went on to point out the many achievements that included building the Plex, a new library, the Bruce County Museum, the water plant with its membrane system and the purchase of land that is now enabling the landfill expansion.

In retrospect, Smith added that out of the eight municipalities that were created in Bruce County, Saugeen Shores was the most natural fit but not without controversy.  “Saugeen Shores consistently leads Grey and Bruce counties in so many things but there was tremendous stress at the time with people saying, how are we going to make this work? How are we going to pick the right people?  I often look back and I think we did very well.”

Mayor Luke Charbonneau said that as a teenager he went to the first debate for the first Council and admired the difficult work that was needed and done to be where the community is today as one of the fastest growing communities in the region and in Ontario.  “I was first elected in 2006 when Mike (Smith) was first elected Mayor and I learned a lot and anything positive I may have accomplished in this role, is a result of his influence over me.  We have had tremendous people serve on the Councils and who have had the best interests of the entire community at heart.  They have always pulled together and made the right decisions for the entire community and today we reap the rewards.  We would not be growing if those Councils had not built the infrastructures needed for new subdivisions … this Council owes a lot to the last 25 years. It’s a history we should be very proud of.”

Heather Hyde stressed that the accomplishments through amalgamation is “cause for celebration and we are going to do that over the new year.”

Mayor Charbonneau said that the year of celebration will begin with an Inaugural meeting of Council on January 5th, the same date of the first amalgamated Council meeting, at 1:00 p.m. at the Town Chambers in the Plex.

To listen to the entire podcast interviews, CLICK HERE