A popular Ontario beach will mostly close again after reckless crowds packed the tourist destination to a “whole new level” on Canada Day, officials say.
In an emergency meeting on Thursday, council said they are partially reclosing Wasaga Beach because of the “blatant disrespect” by tourists visiting on Wednesday.
“Last weekend our beachfront was busy but yesterday, Canada Day, it was taken to a whole new level,” Town of Wasaga Beach Mayor Nina Bifolchi said in the meeting.
Deputy Fire Chief Craig Williams added to Bifolchi’s comments, saying the crowds made it clear “the public is unable to safely manage themselves.”
“Over the last two weekends, and especially yesterday on Canada, we saw human behaviour at its worse,” Williams said.
“Many visitors displayed reckless disregard for guidelines and ignored physical distancing recommendations.”
As a result, the town will close the sand-covered portion of Beach Drive on July 9 and reduce the number of beachfront parking spots by 50 per cent immediately.
The town has now written to Premier Doug Ford to raise concerns about the influx of people in the community, saying it has “not helped” that he encouraged people to get outside and visit Ontario Parks.
Bifolchi also said police are not doing enough to enforce the emergency orders, which prohibit social gatherings of more than 10 people.
The town has requested additional support from the Ontario Provincial Police to help enforce physical distancing regulations.
“The Government of Ontario has mismanaged Wasaga Beach Provincial Park during the reopening and it is frustrating for residents and visitors” Bifolchi said.
Bifolchi said that by taking these measures they are sending a “clear message” they will not risk public health.
“People know what the rules are and yet they clearly ignored them all for the sake of a day at the beach,” Bifolchi said. “I was appalled by what I witnessed and we are taking steps today to control what we can.”
The beach area subject to the closure will be off limits for the “foreseeable future.”