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: