South Bruce Peninsula's Mayor chats it up with fellow beach mayors
Photo courtesy - Mayor Janice Jackson's Facebook page
South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson is getting a little guidance and advice these days from fellow mayors who share similar issues.
Jackson says she held a Zoom meeting earlier this week with Mayor Nina Bifolchi of Wasaga Beach, Mayor Margaret Quirk of Georgina (Keswick, Jackson's Point, Sutton) and Mayor Lynn Dollin of Innisfil.
Besides the obvious similarity, the female mayors also preside over beach communities.
Jackson says they share a number of common issues and obstacles - everything from masses of tourists and Piping Plovers to dealing with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
"It just made sense to bounce ideas and problems off each other and to do a little brain storming" says Jackson.
Their key comparator is Wasaga Beach - their sister beach in Ontario - both being the two longest stretches of sand in the province.
She says however, where they differ is that the town of Wasaga only owns 800 feet of their beach front.
The MNRF is in charge of the rest.
"As much as they have a longer stretch of beach in Wasaga, it doesn't compare to the amount of responsibility that we have in Sauble with 4 km."
Jackson says she'll be watching Wasaga closely this weekend after council just voted to divide their beach into four pods.
Two of them will hold 250 people and two will hold 150 with one of the pods specifically for local residents.
"I'm anxious to hear how that works out for them."
Jackson says they're going to have two staff members stationed at each of the four entrances all day long.
She calls is labour intensive and expensive to have to hire eight people for 12 hours shifts.
When we asked Jackson if she thought the pod idea could work at Sauble, she wasn't sure but admits if it were every to work THIS is the year to try it.
"There's a great portion of our beach, probably 40 percent, where there's no beach left at all. Our beach has been reduced to 60 percent of its normal capacity."
She says a lot of visitors are quite surprised that the strip of sand left is only between 5 and 10 feet wide in spots.
Jackson says the other information to come from the Zoom session was that the other mayors expressed the fact that they wished they'd closed their beaches earlier like Sauble.
The SBP Mayor says by closing Sauble after two weekends of overcrowding, they showed people they weren't messing around and they will close it again if needed.
"We were ahead of everyone else in the actions we took. We did things right.".
This weekend, she says, they will have a full complement of bylaw officers on patrol along with paid duty OPP officers educating and enforcing the rules where applicable.
With the forecast predicting another sunny, warm weekend, Jackson says they're bracing themselves.