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History of the Association

The Southampton Beach Association began its existence in Southampton in the early 1930s. The Southampton Property Owners’ Association (SPOA) was formed in 1989.

Membership in the Beach Association has never been restricted to seasonal property owners. However, the majority of members have traditionally been cottage owners as one of the primary functions of the Association was to provide a winter patrol service.

Membership numbers hovered just below 100 for many years, with a notable increase in the mid-1980s when membership numbers peaked at 250. Prior to the amalgamation with SPOA, membership remained at about 200-225 properties. Reasons for the decline? Many seasonal residents upgraded, then retired to their cottages, becoming year round residents no longer requiring the winter patrol service. Also, membership was not actively pursued when cottage properties changed hands.

For many years, until the 1970s, the former Town of Southampton (now part of the amalgamated community of Saugeen Shores) supported the Beach Association with an annual grant to help cover the group’s winter patrolling costs. With the cessation of the grant money, the Association provided gas to some of the local police officers who, on snowmobile, took care of the winter patrol. For the last 25 years, the patrol costs have been funded through Beach Association membership fees.

In the past, the Association focused on issues directly related to “cottaging”, such as the condition and grooming of the beach and garbage collection. Over time, the Association began to tackle a broader range of issues, including the high profile bridge reconstruction over the Saugeen. The mayor and council of that time were defeated at election time over this contentious issue.

In the past and recently, the Southampton Beach Association has taken a firm stand on many issues facing Southampton:

  • Worked to defeat the referendum proposing the elimination of separate electoral wards in Saugeen Shores, which may have had an adverse effect on Southampton, potentially leaving it without electoral representation on council.
  • Hosted many public meetings on a variety of Southampton issues.
  • Participated in town planning discussions, including a study in 1996 which focused on the characteristics that make Southampton a unique community.
  • The dune grass project south of Gerry’s Fries and along the Southampton Beach at crucial points. (Full kudos are extended to then-president Nancy Raynor, who was a driving force behind this project to save the dunes and the beach from erosion).
  • Worked to defeat plans of extensive commercial development of the sandy beach from High Street to Gerry’s Fries. The end result was the construction of a public washroom and a turnaround for vehicles at the west end of Chantry View Drive (formerly Wellington Street).
  • Acted as catalysts on many fundraising issues. The most notable of these was the fundraising campaign for the expansion of the local hospital, led by Earl Hughes.
  • The founding and development of the Southampton Tennis Club.
  • The Southampton Streetscape Committee.
  • The construction of the public washrooms at Millard Boulevard in 2003.
  • Carried out a survey of Southampton residents and provided this input for the 2006 Official Plan Review.
  • Working closely with and supporting the Southampton 150th Anniversary Celebrations.

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