Who is in charge? asks reader

To the Editor:

I have been following the Port Elgin beach front issue for some time now.  Everyone is concerned about how best to use the beach and rightly should be. This is a huge undertaking and one that will affect Port Elgin and the surrounding area for decades to come.  I will let others best determine whether the facility is required the type of facility required.  I will, instead, raise a few questions about the process and have a few comments.

First item that grabbed my attention was the Request for Proposal.  It seems that with such a large undertaking the RFP process would have been opened longer and that known developers be invited to quote rather than only have one proposal submitted.  Only having one proposal for such a large project just raises eyebrows.

Through all the literature I have read I still don’t know who the partners are that are proposing this development – all partners not just the two we hear about.  I mean, has anyone done a full background check on the various individuals?  I would certainly like to make sure that the individuals involved in this public-private partnership are above reproach.  I hesitate to say this has not been done.  Perhaps it’s time someone actually do that leg work and report back to Council and the ratepayers.  After all, Council should be doing the wishes of its ratepayers.

The following are Cedar Crescent Village requirements:

  1. Term of lease will be no less than 50 years;
  2. For the term of the lease there will be no property taxes assessed to the holders of the lease;
  3. For the term of the lease there will be no payments owed by the holders of the lease as lease payments;
  4. The holders of the lease will own all buildings, improvements and amenities on land in question;
  5. The owners of the lease will have a first right of refusal to renew lease;
  6. Site prep, readiness and clearing will be the responsibility of the Town of Saugeen Council;
  7. Site servicing design will be the responsibility of the Town of Saugeen Shores;
  8. The Town of Saugeen Shores undertakes to maintain the beach and parking areas;
  9. There is a non-competition clause that “…that no one can open a commercial enterprise in competition with any existing or future business within the Village.”;
  10. The Town of Saugeen Shores will remove Existing rail tracks and put down hard-packed gravel along paths for new train operation;

The above are only some of the items that truly need to be questioned and fully costed out before any further planning moves forward.

A 50 year lease is a very long lease and for no property taxes to be levied against those business that are in existence to make profit for 50 years is outrageous.  And the leaseholders are to own all buildings, improvements and amenities on the land in question.  Are there any other businesses that receive this special treatment.  And no lease payments for the term of the lease…how can it be called a lease.

Is it typical for land developers to not pay any site prep, readiness and clearing?  Is it typical that land developers not be responsible for the site servicing design?  I am sure other land developers in the community would like to have this special treatment as well.

Non-competition for “…future businesses within the Village.” How do the leaseholders even know what future businesses will be within the Village?  Or is that just terminology being used to block any future business from locating near Cedar Crescent Village.

Based on all this information it would seem the Town is taking all the risk with the developer(s) taking very little.

In closing I would just like to ask, “Who is in charge of our Town, the proposed leaseholders or our elected representatives on Town Council?”  I fear no one.

David Carey