At a special Council meeting on Monday, Council passed a motion to close Victoria Park beach for the summer. A fence will be erected on the sand with enough space left for a walkway parallel to the existing walkway – the extra space allows people to pass by each other with proper social distancing. There was no provision for residents to access the beach – everyone will face the risk of a fine for trespassing [Fine $65]. There was considerable public interest and differences of opinion – Council heard 5 delegations and received 26 items of correspondence. My count of these (see below) had 10 who wanted the Beach to stay open (as now – with limitations) and 19 who wanted the beach closed in some form. There were over 200 people watching the meeting online compared to a typical audience of about 15.
Dennis Nabieszko of the CTA presented the CTA petition with 1,662 signatures; Mayor John Henderson said that he had had the largest citizens’ engagement on any subject in his years on Council; several councillors said it was the hardest decision they had to face; several letter writers and one delegation argued that the beach should stay open for its health benefits and several wanted visitors excluded.
The meeting started with the Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Pine Ridge District Health Unit describing Provincial rules and then Council heard from the delegations (see Agenda in Links below).
Letters and Presentations
|Name||Type||Open or Close|
|Paul Pagnuelo||Delegation||Close for summer – maybe allow locals|
|Dennis Nabieszko, CTA||Petition||Close for rest of 2020|
|Dilys Robertson||Delegation||More info – until then open to locals only|
|Anne-Marie Bouthillette||Delegation||Close to Visitors except with paid permits|
|Cliff and Lorie Stroud||Correspondence||Close|
|Caroline Rowan||Correspondence||Close – maybe allow locals|
|Joy Doncaster||Correspondence||Close to Visitors|
|Christina Wilson||Correspondence||Close to Visitors|
|Jim Glover||Correspondence||Close in 2020; charge visitors fee in 2021|
|Lisa Filce||Correspondence||Close to Visitors|
|Anne Rawson||Correspondence||Close to Visitors|
|Rob Jewitt||Correspondence||Close for summer|
|Lawrence James Boyle||Correspondence||Close|
|Kerri Dunn||Correspondence||Close – maybe allow locals|
|Eleanor Hawking||Correspondence||Close – maybe allow locals|
|Linda Walker||Correspondence||Close or limit number|
Two correspondence items were received too late to be included in the Agenda.
The CTA petition was received without comment.
Then Aaron Burchat moved the motion to close the beach and included a requirement for a staff report on June 22 which would recommend actions on parking, how the beach would eventually be re-opened and the costs involved.
Action Recommended: THAT Council receive the report referred from the May 11, 2020 Committee of the Whole Meeting and the Second Report on By-law Enforcement Statistics for Information purposes; and
FURTHER THAT Council direct Staff to implement the closure of Victoria Beach until August 31 2020 and install metal fencing, barriers with emergency access points as necessary and continue with increased enforcement at the Waterfront area in order to continue to make sure residents and visitors are complying with Provincial Orders and complying with Physical Distancing Guidelines as set out by Federal Provincial and Local Health Units; and
FURTHER THAT the Staff provide a further report to Council at the Monday June 22, 2020 Committee of the Whole Meeting with any statistics of Waterfront area activities and any other areas of concern that arise due to the beach closure, and in addition include in the report how the Town could reopen the beach with restricted use, along with the costing estimates associated with the reopening of the Beach for Council approval.
Amendments were added to 1) provide portable washrooms (porta potties) and 2) signage stating that the beach is closed. These to be placed on the 401 and other entrances to the Town. There was considerable discussion on parking and washrooms and the fact that the situation is continuously changing.
The amended motion was passed unanimously with a recorded vote. Since this was NOT a Committee of the Whole meeting, no confirmation is required. Therefore the beach will be closed immediately (Tuesday June 2nd) although the fence and signs would likely not be installed until the weekend. Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf commented that once the fence and signs were installed, there would be zero tolerance.
There were some suggestions that there should also be similar changes with the Campground and Marina but Mayor Henderson in his role as chair ruled these to be not germane to the subject of the special meeting so could not be discussed. In response to a question, Director Dean Hustwick said that there had been no decision made yet about re-opening the campground.