Time line provides for little to no input from citizens says reader

To the Editor:

“Just trust us”

Early this year, the town of Saugeen Shores presented a media release about the sole winner of the Beach Revitalization proposal, his vision for the beach, along with his presentation to council. Many of his ideas had merit, but they were all his, with no input from the people who live here or visit during the summer months and were to take place on our publicly owned beach.

A special meeting in September which allowed anyone to speak for or against the proposal as presented, showed that even though the speakers were loaded, (Mr. Donnini along with 4 of the 5 development backers spoke) the for or against was pretty evenly split. When we look back at that meeting, we were all in fact speaking about complete unknowns, as no apparent lease agreement or drawings were available. Our CAO told us to “just trust us” and that the free flow of information and slow movement through the process would leave us time to get answers and stop all the misinformation.

Instead, it appears that the process is being rail-roaded through on an obvious time line and little to no information has gone out to the public. The continued lack of factual information, especially on how the process has proceeded so far, did little except to foster the apparent or real issue of a tainted process. But none of that mattered, even though it was even brought up in an ad hoc committee meeting; tuck it away and no one will know. But people did notice and began to ask questions with little in the way of answers. Remember, “trust us” and everything will work out.

Months have gone by and the public knows no more today, than they did seven months ago. Now, council, the mayor and CAO can’t even talk about the developer lease as it was discussed in a closed door council session. No drawings have ever been seen, yet recently, surveyors were able to mark out a footprint of a restaurant and banquet hall with very specific detail, which obviously were from someone’s blueprints. This, along with freedom of information documents revealed that the CAO in August had a 95% completed lease for the proponent group along with (in his own words) an “aggressive schedule” with a time line for council to approve. So why wasn’t the public allowed to know this; was the public right in its feelings of mistrust and an alternative agenda outside of the public view?

Now it appears that council is ready to be presented with both a lease and drawings for the proposal on the 16th Dec. The agenda is posted 3 -4 days ahead, so the average citizen will in fact only have those 3-4 days to view, organize and arrange to speak on the matter. But, if you have spoken before, remember, you can’t speak on the same topic for six months, so that many of the followers of this project have now been silenced. Council will most likely come back on the 13th Jan for approval or disapproval. This time line provides for little to no input from citizens once they see what the town is suggesting for the development. This is exactly how a fair and transparent municipality would not act.

Remember, just “trust us”.

Doug Ordowich, Port Elgin