Waterfront

Section: 
Letter

To the Editor:

I am writing to offer my perspective on recent and continuing concerns raised by Shirley Wright as regards the North Beach Erosion Protection project. In the spirit of full disclosure, I wish to advise that I own the property at 177 Harbour Street, immediately adjacent to the north pier. My family and I have had a long relationship with the property, beach and lake, having lived here since 1911.

Clearly the problem with erosion has become severe over the last two years and is now very evident along the shoreline. This is an issue of great importance to me as it significantly affects my property. That having been said I have been proactive and invested considerable time and resources to better understand what is driving the changes we are all observing on the shoreline. I commissioned a firm of specialty coastal engineers (Baird & Associates) to conduct a detailed study of the dynamics involved in the changing shoreline. This included dynamic analyses of the beach with hydrologic cycle data, analysis of aerial reconnaissance photos of the beach and breakwall for the years from 1940 through to 2000, and an underwater physical survey of the lake bottom from the north pier for 200 feet north and stretching out 200 feet from the shoreline (approximately 1 acre).  As a result, I am very familiar with the issues involved.

In the autumn of 2014 I hired a professional engineering firm, B.M. Ross, to develop an effective erosion protection design which would be unobtrusive and cost-effective.

I have been working with the municipality, the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority and B.M. Ross over the last two years to assist in the assessment of the issues at hand and the development of the solution to preserve our shoreline once and for all.

I observe that Shirley is very concerned with conserving “our beautiful beach.” Although, it sounds like she feels she is the only person who does care for our lakeshore and beach. I have attached some photos of what “our beautiful beach” has looked like in the last couple of years. I find it curious that her concerns do not seem to extend to the safety of individuals or pets who might walk close to the eroded park boundary. I must also assume that the support that many of our fellow residents showed in name of family and loved ones who contributed to the Lions boardwalk and of the volunteers who built it is of little consequence to her either.

I appreciate that both Murray Clarke and Adam Weishar from the municipality responded to some public concerns with both statements and a detailed article complete with maps and design diagrams that clarifies the design and intent of the erosion protection project last summer. In addition, Murray Clarke clearly restated the broad objectives of the project in a local online newspage only last week before Shirley again communicated her unfounded concerns. I can say with conviction that I have complete faith in the team that has been working on this given their commitment, experience and skills and they are creating a permanent erosion solution that we will all be proud of.

 

I also note that no individual expressing concerns ever attended any meetings on this subject. In fact, I suggested to Shirley that she wait to see the plans before going public with concerns that were obviously based on little actual knowledge. She declined saying she didn’t need to see them because she was a “community activist” and she “knew the town would do what they did on Saugeen Street again.” I believe Shirley is worried only about her own view from her cottage which does have an elevated position abutting a busy street and across dirt/gravel parking lot. I am pretty sure that she has never made the effort to inquire about or look at any design documents or siting documents which are based on the actual lake datum and elevations designed not to impede anyone’s view. In all fairness though, I almost forgot that she mentioned that weeds are also a huge issue for her. Quite frankly, had she taken the time to get informed before providing us with yet another uninformed opinion she would have seen the precautions and requirements for vegetation suppression in the erosion barrier design. She is also concerned that the protection will go almost to the Pavilion (it does not)….but not ever having looked at the plans I guess we can forgive her (yet again) for not knowing any better. In fact, she complained the very first day as construction began of both excessive noise from a generator 200 plus feet from her house and fumes from the same generator even though there was an offshore wind away from the direction of her cottage that day. Your readers might not agree, but I think I’m starting to see a pattern here. The actual construction is under the constant onsite supervision of both the town and a professional engineering firm, B.M. Ross. It looks like Shirley is convinced she knows better than all of us put together. It is also possible that she is still upset from her rebuke by a local town paper last summer who took issue with her unsubstantiated opinions and concerns on this particular project.

I agree that the open expression of opinions is the bedrock of our society but I thought your readers really deserved some facts about this project to protect our shoreline.

I strongly believe that community involvement is very important and central to effective government. However, the next time a self-appointed “community activist” wants you to take action, sign or back a petition it might be advisable to check to see if they have any relevant facts first.

Sincerely

Marcus Wadsworth

Kincardine