Multi-million dollar proposal for Port Elgin waterfront discussed

Rotary Hall at The Plex in Port Elgin was overflowing for a public meeting on the proposed Cedar Crescent Village at the Port Elgin beach. (Photo by Jordan Mackinnon)

There was no shortage of interest or opinions as Saugeen Shores council hosted a public meeting on the Cedar Crescent Village proposal for the Port Elgin beach.

The standing-room-only crowd spilled over into the hallway at its peak, as the public received an update on the multi-million dollar proposal from lead investor Pier Donnini.

The presentation by Donnini provided updated maps and an overview of the history of the proposal, which includes a year-round restaurant, banquet hall, retail space and beach volleyball courts, which will convert to an artificial ice surface during the winter.

Once the meeting was turned over for public comments, a total of 39 speakers took to the podium, with a majority voicing support for the plan to overhaul the waterfront area which currently houses the flea market, former train station and mini-golf.

Donnini admitted he was nervous about the meeting, pointing out that public meetings tend to be dominated by the opposition.

“The fact of the matter is, the silent majority, by definition, stay silent even though they support things,” said Donnini. “I was concerned, I think because it wasn’t so skewed negative, it says a lot, it says the town really wants this.”

Southampton resident Emma Martin said it’s a forward-thinking proposal that younger residents will be drawn to and is confident it will be done properly.

“I support Mr. Donnini’s plan because I truly believe it will be successful, change is inevitable, but change can be a good thing if we take the proper steps to ensure it’s properly executed,” said Martin.

Tim Tazier owns a cottage business in Port Elgin and said the project is too big and may attract the wrong crowd to the waterfront.

“What they’re proposing right now is too big for the area, I don’t think that it’s going to draw the people that we want to draw back into town, which is the young families and people with children,” said Tazier. “I think this is going to draw in the people who want a restaurant with a bar attached to it.”

Donnini said his group continues to work with council toward a lease that could be as long as 50 years in length, and also pledged to release improved drawings for the public to view.