Port Elgin waterfront development revealed

The flea market area at the Port Elgin beach, with the former train station building in the background (photo by Jordan MacKinnon)

A Port Elgin businessman and other investors have unveiled a multi-million dollar proposal to revitalize the Port Elgin waterfront.

Pier Donnini introduced Saugeen Shores councillors to the proposed Cedar Crescent Village Monday, a year-round redevelopment of the current flea market area and former train station and mini-golf property.

Donnini said the proposal includes a restaurant and conference centre, beach volleyball courts that convert to an artificial ice rink in the winter, a market, and programming space and retail opportunity.

Since it’s a private development on public lands, Donnini explained the idea is to create a space that benefits as many members of the community as possible.

Port Elgin businessman Pier Donnini unveils his plans for Cedar Crescent Village at the Port Elgin waterfront. (Photo by Jordan MacKinnon)

Donnini explained the name pays tribute to the Cedar Crescent Casino, which was located on the beach for nearly 50 years and served as Port Elgin’s social hub until it was destroyed by fire in 1970.

“There used to be this kind of activity down at the beach a long time ago, so this is not really change, this is restoration,” said Donnini.  “I think you can speak to anybody who was a resident at the time and those were the glory days of the beach, so we really just want to restore the glory days of the beach.”

The land has been the source of controversy over the past year, as a much-publicized falling out between council and the operators of the train station business saw the iconic steam train sit idle last year and subsequently removed this year.

 

Donnini assured councillors Cedar Crescent Village will include an electric train that won’t be bound by tracks, though an exact path is still to be worked out with municipal staff.

“The train has been a part of the waterfront since the 70s, at least, and we want to bring a train back,” said Donnini. “It’ll be electric, it’ll be flexible, it’ll be easier to operate, safer to operate.”

The development is estimated to cost at least $5 million, though Donnini expects the final price tag to be closer to $7 million, with the entire project financed privately without the use of tax dollars.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau said it’s an exciting proposal for the community’s most valuable asset, which will work well with recent municipal investments, along with the federal government’s commitment to rebuilding the south break-wall.

He said the public will be given an opportunity to provide feedback through a public consultation process that will begin immediately.

Donnini said he’s aiming to begin construction as early as September, with hopes of opening the Cedar Crescent Village by next summer.