Saugeen Shores is home to some unique natural features and it has a very important role in the natural world. The Saugeen river is a major fish habitat and nursery. It is an important habitat of birds and mammals. The river provides recreation in terms of fishing, bird watching, paddling, and more. Saugeen Shores is an important habitat for a diverse and thriving bird population. It is a very important migratory route for birds, as well as butterflies. Deer, fox, rabbits and more call Saugeen Shores home. The reason many of us live here is for the beauty of our shoreline, beaches, rivers and forests. Hundreds of people walk through the forests on our trails, paddle our rivers, and flock to our beaches. We all marvel at the beauty of the leaves turning colour in the autumn. Nature draws us here, and Nature gives us so much. It is in everyone's best interest to preserve, protect, and enhance our natural environment.
The Town of Saugeen Shores has taken some good steps environmentally. Things like the annual tree sale, plastic film recycling, battery recycling, and butterfly gardens to mention a few. Many groups have made significant contributions to our environment, individually and in partnership with the town. The Town made the “Saugeen Shores Environmental Advisory and Stewardship” ad hoc committee on the environment. It did some public consultation and filed a report to Council. All of the above are very laudable and positive steps.
I want to build on the good things that have been started. Please read on!
I propose five simple and achievable environmental actions that will make significant and lasting impact.
Start planting new Maple Trees in Port Elgin Ward now!
Parks and green spaces need to include areas of native trees, grasses, and flowers to great natural spaces, not just lawns.
No mow May, in limited areas of applicable Town parks.
Promote soft shores and dynamic shores to protect the shoreline, add vegetation to our stone / rip rap shores
Expand what the Town does well; like the annual tree sale and the butterfly gardens to mention a couple.
Make a Linear Park from Gobles Grove to McNabb Street.
The Shipley Trail, the Biener Tract, and Woodland Trail are a natural and recreational treasure. The trails, ponds, streams, and forests are loved and enjoyed by many residents and tourists. It is also a significant wildlife corridor and stop for migrating birds and butterflies. It is classified as a "tract", "hazard land" "wooded area" and even "proposed development". It should be classified as a park and It needs to be permanently protected for us to enjoy and pass on to the next generation. It's in all our best interests to preserve and protect our trail and wooded areas.
Follow the environmental expectations of the Official Plan of the Town .
Most of the things that the Adhoc Environmental Committee recommended are already in the Town's Official Plan. We don't need more committees and reports, we need to enforce the existing Plan.
Grow 2 new parks
Port Elgin will be developing 2 new parks in the near future, Summerside Park and the land around the YMCA child care facility.
These parks must have play ground equipment, play spaces for children and the young at heart. Areas to run, kick a ball, throw a frisbee, etc. Features should also provide for areas to sit in solitude and enjoy being outside. Butterfly gardens, treed areas, shade areas, and native grasses will share our park space with birds and pollinators. At 8 hectors per park, we have room to accommodate it all.
There are also under utilized green spaces beside Nodwell Park and at Beiner park that can be improved on. Considering the residential density of that area, it is important to have parks that include natural spaces.
The natural beauty of Saugeen Shores draws new residents and tourists alike. We can have growth, but we must protect, and grow the parks, trails, and natural spaces.
A Deeper Dive into Environmental Plank One
5 simple and Achievable Environmental Actions
Start planting new Maple Trees in Port Elgin Ward now!
Parks and green spaces need to include sections or areas of native trees, native grasses, and native flowers, to great natural spaces, not just lawns,
No mow May, in limited areas of applicable Town parks, and as homeowners wish to participate
Promote soft shores and dynamic shores to protect the shoreline, add vegetation to our hard shores. (the stone rip rap, as in the harbour and the North Shore Road).
Expand what the Town does well; like the annual tree sale and the butterfly gardens to mention just 2 things.
Be the Town of Maples!
Over one hundred years ago the town planted hundreds of maple trees up and down the newly made streets of Port Elgin. Those early settlers and councillors knew the value of trees: shade for cooling houses, lawns, and streets, and for their beauty. This led to Port Elgin being known as the “Town of Maples”. I love living on Mill Street and looking down the tunnel of greenery leading to the lake. That tunnel is rapidly disappearing. I want to promote a very simple policy. Every spring, we replant at least one new tree for every mature tree that had to be cut down the previous year. In fact, we don’t need to wait until the trees are cut down, maples grow the best in shade. We could be planting the new maples now, in the shade of the existing ones, so that they have to compete for the sun, and grow quickly, with nice tall crowns. This policy, along with expanding the existing annual tree sale, would keep us “the Town of Maples.” I am making many references to Port Elgin because I am running in that ward. The tree policy will benefit all of Saugeen Shores.
One of the recommendations of the Environmental Advisory and Stewardship committee was the need for a tree bylaw. A public consultation that also includes arborists, foresters, and other stakeholders would be a priority for me, to develop a comprehensive tree bylaw.
More Natural Spaces
Many of our parks and open spaces are cut lawns with no trees. Parks and open spaces need more natural spaces. Natural spaces would include some native shade trees, shrubs, wild flowers, and vegetation. These areas can have benches and sitting areas for people to enjoy. Creating a natural space often simply requires planting a few trees and stop cutting the grass. Nature will take over. These natural spaces provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other small creatures. They also add beauty and a place for people to enjoy some peace and quiet. This is another affordable and obtainable action that is win win for us and for the environment.
No Mow May
No Mow May is another easily obtainable goal. Many people in Saugeeen Shores do this already, myself included. The concept is simple: wait until June to mow your lawn to give needed food and habitat to the pollinators. The Town has plenty of green space that we don’t mow until June. That doesn’t have to mean that don’t mow at all, or that the parks are all long grass and weeds. We can leave areas of the parks for the birds and the bees until June, while we enjoy the mowed areas. I believe that many people will also enjoy “No Mow May”, as it offers many beautiful wild flowers that we can all enjoy. Another easy win-win situation.
Dynamic and Soft Shorelines
The recent high water event on Lake Huron showed us how powerful the lake is and how quickly it can reshape the shoreline. Studies have proven that most engineered or man made shorelines last between 50 to 75 years. The high water event proved that by damaging man made shoreline features up and down the coastline. Man made and engineered shorelines play an important role, but so does nature's way of protecting the shoreline. Sometimes they work best together. Shrubs, trees, and grasses will grow in the man made rip rap shore feature that protects the bike path. If you walk or bike the lakeshore trail to Southampton, you will notice that areas that had natural features, such as trees, shrubs, etc, fared far better than the areas that had none. Lots of trees, shrubs, and dunes were lost to the lake, but they slowed the damage and in many cases they held the shoreline. In most cases, the dynamic shoreline will replace itself. Sand dunes will become sand bars, and sand bars will replenish the beach with sand. Trees, shrubs, and grasses will sprout again on their own, and the cycle will continue. People often complain that trees ruin the view. Planting lower growing shrubs and trees can let us have protection and a view. Natural shorelines also provide habitat for wildlife. Nature is willing to share with us, this can easily be a win-win situation.
Expand what the Town does well.
Give credit where credit is due. The annual tree sale is a great innovation that has put lots of new trees in Saugeen Shores. Saugreen needs to be acknowledged for their significant role in greening Saugeen Shores. The butterfly gardens are important and effective. It is important to recognize others’ hard work and good ideas. Many people and organizations make contributions to our community, and many more want to contribute. I am committed to working with them, to add their contributions, ideas, and passions to the good work that already exists in Saugeen Shores.
The natural beauty of Saugeen Shores draws new residents and tourists alike. We can have growth, but we must nurture, protect, and expand the parks, trails, and natural spaces that draw us all here.
With my experience of working on Saugeen Shores Parks parks and public spaces, and my ability to work with various community groups, I am confident that together we can make a positive environmental and lifestyle impact.