To the Editor:
Village Plan for Port Elgin Beach
It is controversial why recommendations of the Waterfront Master Plan were not implemented and sections of the Waterfront Concept Plan have been ignored. The seriousness of those gaffes are highlighted by reading Ontario Beach Tourism Statistics 2014 which was released in 2017.
To no ones surprise 100% of beach visitors visited a beach. Mother Nature has gifted us a sand beach on Lake Huron with dynamic sunsets. That fact has been the lure for thousands of people because we have it and beach visitors want it. Nothing is more important than our natural environment, the sand beach. Covering approximately 100,000 sq. ft. of our beach is inconsistent with the world’s environmental concerns of today.
The Ontario statistics are telling. 37% participated in boating, 30% camped, 29% went hiking. There are many more listed activities but as you near the lower percentages of activity you see that only 6% used a restaurant or bar. Only 6% wanted to shop. Only 2% wanted a Theme Park. One percent took in a movie. As far as participating in a business meeting, conference or seminar, the percentage is zero. Zero % for a 300 seat conference centre is a clear indication that it does not fit anywhere on the beach.
The data listed, which comes from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, refutes too many of the village plans ideas. The seriousness of not engaging the people who frequent the beach, has netted a plan that thwarts reality. The mayor wants to see a private/public partnership but at what cost? To keep pushing the present plan simply to get it done exempts fairness and transparency.
How much information and proof is needed before people accept that the village plan, in its present from, will transform a huge section of main beach into a theme park? Yes only 2% of Ontario beach visitors used one. Do people really believe that the village plan will be the exception to overwhelming statistical information?
Another interesting set of statistics involves the calendar year. Between July and September 63% visited. Between April and June 32% visited. But from January to March only 2% visited and only 3.6% visited between October and December. Add to that the beach winter weather forecasts we are known for.
Perhaps most telling is 74% of beach visitors are on the beach just for pure pleasure. The provincial statistics tell us that in 2014 there were 6.5 million beach visitors who spent 1.6 billion dollars. In light of the provincial data, it should be expected that council insists the village plan be revamped to fit noted expectations or the town reopens invitations from others to properly revitalize our beach. It should not matter how much money private investors are willing to shell out if their plan is so discordant with not just local citizens but with over 6 million Ontario beach visitors.
Wayne Mc Grath