The Stockwell Report E-1 V-14

THE STOCKWELL REPORT

On May 15, 2015, the Wasaga Beach Council purchased seven properties along Beach Drive. These include eight buildings and 28 rental units, which included three bars that were closed at the time.

On May 21, 2015, a staff report to the Committee of the Whole stated, “Leading up to the purchase the previous owners were actively

trying to lease the food and retail units at Beachfront and at closing had 13 signed leases and one tentative lease. The current leases were assigned to the Town as part of the transaction.”

Under the direction of George Vadeboncoeur, the Chief Administrative Officer, staff proceeded to rent the remaining properties prior to the unofficial opening of the tourist  season, the July First week-end.

Due to the tight time restraints, only one operator could obtain the necessary liquor licences, etc., to meet the deadline. So that operator was given a one year lease on the three bar properties.

The balance of the units were leased on a standard commercial lease for a one year term.

Following the 2015 season, the Town hired a new Economic Development and Tourism Director, who, together with the C.A.O., proceeded to call for leasing proposals on the three bars, as well as the remaining storefront units.

The Town also set out to establish a number of kiosks, as well as a permanent “beer tent” facility along the Main Street Market section of Beach One.

Again, working under a tight time frame to meet the July First Week-end, nearly all of the Beach One properties were leased in time for the 2016 season.

However, the 2016 program was not unanimously supported by Council, and subsequently drew constant criticism from a small group of ratepayers, mostly via social media.

As the 2016 season wound down, a few beachfront tenants publicly voiced complaints, aimed at Town staff. This lead to a report being submitted to a Committee of Council, on July 14, 2016, recommending that, “staff be directed to arrange a meeting with all tenants currently operating in Town-owned beachfront units at Beach Area One, including kiosk operators at the Main Street Market, so that an open conversation pertaining to any issues or concerns on the part of the tenants can occur and any steps required to resolve issues or concerns be identified;

And Further That the General Government Section of Coordinated Committee recommend to Council that staff be directed at the meeting to offer a one-time opportunity for any current tenant in a Town-owned beachfront unit or Kiosk to break their lease immediately with no penalty if they wish to do so;

AND FINALLY THAT the General Government Section of Coordinated Committee recommend to Council that staff be directed to report back to the next meeting of the General Government Section of Coordinated Committee on the outcomes of the meeting and any recommended actions required to resolve issues or concerns.”

So….this past Monday evening that meeting took place and a number of Beach One tenants were in attendance. All of Council, along with a few interested ratepayers sat in the audience to witness the proceedings.

The first speaker was Alex Smardenka, a well known restaurateur, and owner of the Marlwood Golf Course. The Smardenka family operated one of the Main Street Market kiosks, and his comments were very supportive of the efforts made by the Town in creating a successful summer program and the first year results of the venture.

He went on to comment on the “nay sayers” and the fact that there is opposition to the Town’s efforts were “counterproductive”.

He stated that he felt the Town acted as a fair landlord and everyone should work together towards the success of the venture.

The speakers that followed were generally supportive of the 2016 program, but did point out problems they had with the different promoters that ran special events throughout the summer.

Their concerns were legitimate, and certainly solvable with a clearer understanding of a new set of “ground rules” governing both tenants and the promoters of the special events that are staged at the site. Everyone seemed to agree that the special events drew people to the site and, overall, was good for the economy of the Town.

However, there was a conflict between the two when it came to sharing the site, something that probably could be solved by a closer working plan presented prior to the staging of each event.

In my opinion nothing was raised that couldn`t be addressed.

Also, the “nay sayers’” complaints were not echoed by the tenants.

The C.A.O., in my opinion, did a good job of chairing the evening, and everyone went away with the feeling that they were listened to, in a fair manner, and their concerns will be addressed.

On the matter of breaking a lease with no penalties, the C.A.O. explained that all tenants have until 4.30 p.m., September 23, to submit their request to do so.

I am sure that some tenants may take advantage of doing so, based on personal circumstances. However, the thought of a major exodus on behalf of the tenants is simply wishful thinking by a handful of disgruntled citizens.

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