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Recently I read an article in the Owen Sound Sun Times about how busy it is at Sauble Beach this year and how the businesses are making money hand over fist. Granted, it is busier than it has been in a few years, but this is the first real summer we have had in some time. An increase in sales is inevitable with hot weather, but you would be fooling yourself if you think that it comes anywhere close to what it was before paid parking was imposed. I began working at the Crowd Inn full time in 1975 and have been the owner since 1983 so I have some idea what I am talking about. The last extraordinary summer the Crowd Inn hadwas the summer of 2005.

My feeling is that Owen Sound and the surrounding area felt really po'd when paid parking was implemented and decided that they really didn't need Sauble Beach after all. What has tipped me off is that the people who used to come to Sauble Beach parked from Main Street to the north end of Sauble. Now, people are more likely to park to the south, especially with the Welcome to Sauble Beach sign acting as a gateway to the beach with no way of exiting once you have entered. The north side of Sauble Beach is rarely packed like it used to be. In the old days parking used to spill over to 2nd and even 3rd avenue. That never happens now.

The other indicator that many from the surrounding area have stopped coming is that weekday traffic is way down. With beautiful weather like we are experiencing this year, there would be far more local people come out for the day to enjoy the beach. The weekday business numbers are struggling and it is frustrating with weather this good.

Someone in the article from the OSST's remarked that more and more people are bringing their own food and supplies and I would agree with him. We are seeing more and more people coming from Toronto and area to spend just the day on weekends and they bring much of what they need with them. It is understandable; it is expensive to make a long distance day trip. And, they do visit my establishment as well and are important to our success; it is more likely to be fringe items, however, like a box of fries or a funnel cake rather than a whole meal. Important all the same.

I had the parking business somewhat thrust upon me in the beginning as a joint venture with the Town. The Crowd Inn had allowed people to park and enjoy the beach free of charge for many, many years. In 2010, the Town severed our partnership. With the decline of business since paid parking was implemented, I have come to rely on the parking revenue and it is now an integral part as a source of revenue for my business.

Unfortunately, paid parking is a reality that I think is not going away anytime soon and as long as the revenue is kept for the betterment of Sauble Beach there are some positives that come with it. I applaud the efforts of our current Town council in trying to make the parking issue more palatable by offering a fifty dollar season pass to everyone, not just SBP residents. I am not sure that it is advertised very well, however, and I am not sure how many are even aware of it.

So, Owen Sound and surrounding area, right now for fifty bucks a year you can come out to Sauble Beach and park anywhere in the Municipal areas anytime you want and enjoy one of the most beautiful beaches anywhere. I know, it's still not free, but these days it's a pretty good deal.

Come back. We miss you.

David Dobson

Sauble Beach

 

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