A land transfer and zoning amendment request brought more than 100 residents out to a public meeting held in the council chamber on Monday, June 10.
“The applicant proposes to exchange and purchase additional lands from the Municipality to facilitate demolition of the former Leith Pub, and to allow for the construction of a new restaurant/pub including two suites for overnight accommodation of the public or by the Owner/Staff,” municipal staff told council. “The proposal would result in a reconfigured parking area to service the beach and restaurant/pub overflow parking, and is intended to enhance access and visibility of the park from Grey Road 15. Public washrooms are proposed within the building for seasonal daytime use while the restaurant is in operation.”
Area residents have a number of concerns with the proposal, including the loss of land in the beach area, access to the boat launch at the beach, parking, safe entry and exit from the beach parking lot, access to public washrooms, the installation of a large septic bed in close proximity to the shoreline, along with concerns that should the proposed business fail, as many have at the location, the property could revert to a residential property.
The purpose of the public meeting held on June 10 was to gather input from residents, and it was clear that the vast majority of residents who attended the meeting were opposed to the proposal.
Proponent Jon Liddell explained his plan to the packed council chamber.
“We have loved and visited the Meaford area for years, and we were always looking for some property, I in particular was looking with a restaurant in mind,” Liddell told the packed council chamber. “Around 2013 we stopped at the Leith Bay River Restaurant (formerly on the property now owned by Liddell). The view is spectacular, and I chatted with the owner about the possibility of purchasing the restaurant, and I vividly remember discussing how busy it might or might not be in the winter months, and he said it will be fine, it can get very busy.”
Liddell said that in 2013 the timing wasn't right for purchasing the property, but he had another opportunity a few years later, and now he has purchased the property and he is hoping to tear down the existing building in order to build a new structure that would house a restaurant along with two rooms for overnight stays.
The many residents who took the opportunity to offer their input suggested that the proposal would have a negative impact on the beach area, which is heavily used by Leith residents, and they asked council to reject the proposed sale of land and the associated zoning amendment request.
While the opposition to the proposal was strong, Liddell said that he was open to revising the plan if it were possible in order to accommodate the concerns expressed by residents.
No decision was made by council at the public meeting. Comments submitted at the meeting as well as by email will be compiled and reviewed before council makes a decision at a later date.
Photo: Leith resident John Liddel explains his proposal to purchase a parcel of land at Leith Beach to add to his property in order to build a new restaurant.