Despite the endless rhetoric from town administrators and some councilors that the Train is here to stay, the truth is quite the opposite. The Train will be gone in short order.
The reason is crystal clear. The town wants this property for future development and they have decided now is the time. And shockingly they have informed the owners that if the town buys the property, they don’t want the Train.
Instead of fairly negotiating with the owners, a small cadre of officials have purposely instituted a program of bullying and harassing the owners out of business.
This action began three years ago when the owners were told that their business no longer fit into the Master Plan. Included in this planned expulsion was trumped-up criticism of the property, purposely delaying and ignoring negotiations, drastically shortening their lease, threatening the owners and attempting to silence those who support the business.
Most egregious is the Town’s refusal to post letters from the owners proving beyond a shadow of doubt that they have been most cooperative. Instead the owners have been cast as difficult and uncooperative. (Last September, Council received a documented report of these bullying tactics but have not responded.)
The previous leases were five pages in length. The town’s new proposal lease is seventeen pages of untenable demands.
E.G. The town has the right to end the lease within a period of days if they feel like it (laymen’s language). The Train/Station owners have a substantial investment and playing Russian roulette is something no business owner should be asked to sign.
E.G. The owners are responsible for ALL track damage. Over thirty years the snowplow has accidentally torn up the tracks a dozen times. This and other draconian clauses have been rejected by the owner’s lawyer.
Thirty years ago the present owners of the Train/ Station transformed an empty building and turned the business into the flagship for Saugeen Shores tourism which included an ever expanding fudge component.
There are only SIX twenty-four gauge trains in Canada. We have the only steam powered train in the entire country that has attracted international crowds for decades. It is that important to our tourism economy.
Andy and Debbie Hess, the owners, have been brutally bullied and harassed to force them out. The stress level has caught up.
E.G. Andy still wears a torso gauze dressing because of severe steam burns from last August. As of this writing the train will probably cease operation because the owners are ready to leave a community that they believe does not want them.
Unbelievable what un-elected bureaucrats are capable of! Also unbelievable is Council ignoring the huge public support to keep the Train.
Of course this correspondence will be challenged. A simple observation will tell the tale. Is the Train/Station open for business and do they have a normal five year lease?
I’m sure that a community as strong as ours will not tolerate this treatment of fellow citizens. You are now challenged: 1) unleash social media 2) be at Council Monday night.
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