Waterfront Committee has summer wrap-up

Saugeen Shores ad hoc Waterfront Committee had its summer ‘wrap-up’ meeting on Tuesday, September 18th.

Among the topics discussed were the Train Station, the Port Elgin Main Beach projects, the Breakwall, phragmites, Beach maintenance, access points and Beach volleyball.

Gobles Grove 

Although not formally on the agenda, a discussion revolved around the proposed over-flow pipe that is to be installed at the Gobles Grove beach.  Grey Shmaltz and Dave Reynolds, an engineer, came to the Committee with concerns.

Shmalz pointed out that area residents had invested in a public parkette in the location and that the area is important from a Tourism aspect and the proposed over-flow and swale will result in beach erosion.  “The proposed rock ‘plunge pool’ is supposed to be moved to a location that is 3.5 feet higher than the lake level,” said Reynolds.  “There will be 1500 litres/second of water coming out of the pipe that will then drop over three feet.  Out concern is how that will be mitigated.

Amanda Froese, Director of Infrastructure and Development Services, explained that the Town will do whatever what it can given the the beach is also groomed four times in a summer. Reynolds suggested that an engineered swale could reduce the velocity of the water.  Froese, also an Engineer, said that the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) wanted a coastal report prepared as it is a dynamic beach.  “We are waiting for that report that will be submitted to the Ministry in the new year and we should have the report by November.  Although a major storm would create a lot of water flow, a groomed beach can be regraded and repaired.”

She also explained that Port Elgin is a leader in the Province when it comes to reducing water flow.  “We install perforated pipe that allows water to escape out into the ground and we also clean out every catch basin in the spring.  By the time the water reaches the out-flow, there should be a small amount and soil there is sandy to allow easy penetration.”  Froese also said that water cannot be redirected away from the creek that runs along Shipley Ave. due to the environmental impacts it would have.

“We have a team that is designing the project to meet Ministry standards and we are working through steps to respect the environmental impact,” added Froese. “We are now waiting for the coastal report and, until we get a report from the Ministry, Bruce Road 33 is on hold.”

Train Station

CAO, David Smith, brought an update about the Train Station on Port Elgin beach, which has been a contentious issue in the community.

According to the CAO, the train station was always part of the Waterfront Master Plan.  “We were unable however, to negotiate a new lease with the owners. The building and train are owned by the Hess(es) but the land is owned by the town.  The Master Plan identifies the area for development over the next 10 to 15 years however, with the building in transition, we may be able to move that forward sooner.  The mini-putt was also owned by the town and operated by the Hess(es).  We are looking at the entire plot, including the flea market.  The town did offer to buy it during negotiations but it didn’t work out.”

Committee Member asked why everything has appeared to be so confidential.  “We have asked and been told it’s a ‘legal’ matter.”  The CAO explained that the town does not make public lease negotiations.  “The property owners has to remove any property owned but no deadline was given.”

He also said that a request for proposal (RfP) will ” … hopefully being going out in the Fall but we want to be respectful to the Hess(es) as they have a long history with the town and have provided a service to the Community.”

Kuntz went on to say that “It seems like a rare opportunity to take control and enact the vision that the town has worked on.  I want to see something there that adds life to the area.”

“It has the potential to accelerate the Master Plan,” said the CAO.

Beach summer wrap-up

A wrap-on report on beaches was brought to the Committee by Frank Burrows, Parks Manager covering several aspects.

  • a tender has been warded for the North Shore Trail repairs and expansion at Port Elgin Harbour, including lighting and the promenade with construction beginning in the next couple of weeks.  Lighting is similar to downtown Port Elgin and is dark-sky compliant with softer LED lights.
  • no news on the breakwall that is owned by the Federal Government
  • phragmites are being sprayed but Burrows said that the most effective method is underwater cutting despite being logistically difficult. Growth has been stable but “we have to keep on top of it”.  He said that volunteers had been asked to maintain their own beach section in front of cottages through the Port Elgin Beachers and Southampton Residents Association but had received little to no response.
  • beach maintenance – three rakings were done this year as clean-up was major due to high-water debris.
  • signage has been done for most access points and the project is almost complete.
  • beach volley, with the moved nets, went smoothly this summer on Port Elgin main beach
  • designated boat restricted areas have been demarked by buoys (15) and most people appear to respect them although South Beach in Southampton is a problem
  • Harbour Street construction work has been deferred
  • beach rules – no alcohol allowed, propane BBQs only allowed – no open flame fires