“Everyone’s been very co-operative,” said Lisa Burroughs, Champlain Township parks and recreation director.
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Township council ordered access to the popular local beach and boat launch limited to residents as a means of reducing the risk of COVID-19 contagion. The restricted access decision was the final step in the township’s response to complaints last month about problems with some people at the beach who refused to obey pandemic social distancing rules and also indulged in smoking and drinking during their visit.
The township’s first response to the situation was to continue with general access to the site but with the OPP and the bylaw enforcement department monitoring the area and doing spot checks to make sure people were social distancing and not drinking or smoking in public. But the OPP park blitz is now over and, with larger numbers of people expected to show up at the park, the municipality does not have the manpower to continue effective monitoring. So council approved a recommendation July 9 to restrict access to residents.
Park staff take turns manning the gate access to the beach and boat launch and checking the identification of people who arrive there. A statistical record is kept of the number of non-local people turned away.
During the first three days since access restriction took effect, the total number of people refused entry was 230. That includes 123 on Friday, July 10, before the evening storm hit; 15 on Saturday as the bad weather continued; and 92 on Sunday when the weather turned hot and sunny again. So far there are no reports of any problems from anyone refused entry for being non-resident.
Burroughs does not have the gate statistics yet for Monday, July 13, to Wednesday, July 15. But she expects the numbers to lower since a township press release went out to news media about the local access restriction and the notice was posted on the municipality’s website and social media pages.
“The word is getting out,” she said.