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saublesunset

- Mayor Janice Jackson, Town of South of Bruce Peninsula

Today Council made a very difficult decision. Council resolved to close all of our Town beaches. It was primarily a decision to close Sauble Beach but in doing so, we worried that we would push thousands onto our smaller beaches. We hope this closure will be temporary.

As you know, we set out a few weeks ago to open the beach in phases, like everything else in the Province. We wanted to see if people could conduct themselves on the beach by adhering to Covid restrictions and guidelines. We hoped everything would go well and we could open the beach completely in time for the long weekend. Many people witnessed the recklessness of beachgoer’s over the last 2 weekends. Only one other weekend did I receive that many complaints, but this year, the situation was exacerbated by the tiny beach we have.

Most of our residents followed the rules and we thank you for that but the day trippers flagrantly defied our restrictions and took over many parts of the beach. Our enforcement team was taxed. We had 6 officers who wrote 28 of the 91 tickets in total.

Council is incredibly worried at the thought of 60,000 visitors to our tiny beach over the long weekend and how that would inevitably affect our community during this global pandemic. Our community has remained relatively virus free and we want to remain that way. The ripple effect of having so many visitors from the epicenter of Ontario’s COVID hotbed could create ramifications for our entire town.

We are painfully aware of the effect this could bring to our businesses, so we ask you to please shop locally, now more than ever. We still expect to see large numbers over the long weekend, but we hope to reduce the usual numbers with pointed messaging to the GTA.

Our Bylaw Enforcers have taken much criticism for not enforcing the beach. In their defense I want to remind people that we have a 4km beach and with 6 Officers dealing with various issues, they covered as much ground as they could. I’d like to remind you, they are not on salary, they get a percentage of the tickets they write so it’s clearly in their best interest to issue fines.

In addition to our challenges, we had little to no help from the overtaxed OPP. They are short officers and often can’t respond at all. We will reach out to the Minister of Community Safety, Premier Ford, MPP Bill Walker and the Solicitor General in an attempt to get sufficient OPP coverage here.

With the COVID crisis, it’s imperative that everyone follows the rules for the health and safety of our community. The sooner we can get assistance, the sooner we can open the beach.

We know this won’t be a popular decision for many, and it was a very tough decision to make but we stand by it. I would prefer to take criticism for being too cautious than to ignore this problem and watch our community pay the price. Please bear with us while we appeal to the Province and hope we get enough help to safely open up again.


 

 

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