A special Council meeting was called today to decide what to do about people staying on Victoria Beach during the Stay at Home Order. The Emergency Control Group (ECG) recommended that it be closed until Council makes a final decision on the status of the Beach at the Monday June 7, 2021 Regular Council Meeting. This plan of action was not specifically directed by the HKPR Health Unit but they did support the ECG decision. Council discussed the issue at length with questions about signage, enforceability and more. Police Chief Paul Vandgraaf said that today there were 100 people on the beach and many were “congregating” contrary to the rules of the “Stay at Home Order”. The Chief estimated that this number would increase to 500 on the coming weekends.
Although the Chief said it would be possible to enforce without a fence, he said that it would be untenable. He said that a fence and signs declaring the beach was closed would mean tickets for trespassing would be possible as well as $800+ tickets for those congregating in larger groups.
Councillors Emily Chorley, Nicole Beatty and Aaron Burchat supported an amendment to close the beach only on weekends and public Holidays up until June 7 with the idea that people would be instructed on weekdays that they could only “walk though”. However, their amendment was defeated 4-3.
So at the end of a 90 minute meeting, Council passed the following motion (4-3):
THAT Council receive the Staff Report for information purposes; and
FURTHER THAT Council provide direction to Staff on interim measures at Victoria Park Beach during the current extended Stay-at-Home Order as recommended by the Town of Cobourg Emergency Control Group in collaboration with the Halliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR DHU).
The Emergency Control Group is recommending to temporarily close the beach until the end of the Provincial Stay-at-Home Order and until Council makes a final decision on the status of the Beach at the Monday June 7, 2021 Regular Council Meeting.
I would expect a fence will be up well before the weekend. Hopefully appropriate signs will be up quickly as well.
At the May 31 Committee of the Whole meeting, Council will hear recommendations of what to do and make a motion to enact the recommendations or a variation of them. This motion will then be ratified at a regular Council meeting on June 7. Stay tuned.
- Staff Report with analysis and recommendation – from the ECG
Addendum – 21 May 2021
New Provincial Guidelines issued after the above meeting was held now seem to recommend some degree of controlled opening of the beach. Staff have created some options for Council to consider and a special emergency Council meeting has been called for May 26 to choose one or a variation.