Overcrowding becoming an issue at Burnstown Beach

Beaches across eastern Ontario have become a slice of summer getaway for many post-lockdown.

In McNab/Braeside, the township says their Burnstown Beach west of Ottawa has become so popular they now have a problem with overcrowding.

The problems begin in the parking lot for McNab/Braeside Mayor Tom Peckett.

"There’s that many people come that they’re parking out on County Road 508 on both sides, plus the boat trailer area is full of beach users."

The parking lot at the Burnstown Beach has space for about 75 vehicles.  On a hot summer weekend, the mayor says he’s seen upwards of 140 vehicles packed into the lot. It is resulting in vehicles parking in no parking zones, blocking the hydrant on site for fire trucks, and cars parked up and down the shoulders of Calabogie Road.

“I’ve seen it; it’s been lined up the whole way. Probably the best part of three-quarters of a kilometre,” says Peckett. “It’s very dangerous when people are getting in and out of cars along the side of the roadway to come into the beach area.”

To cut down on the congested parking, Peckett is hoping to add more no parking signs throughout the parking lot and on both sides of the roadway. He also wants to see more 60 kilometres an hour speed limit signs further down the road to slow cars down as they pass the driveway into the parking lot.

With the extra cars comes the tourists and beach-goers as well. Those who were at the beach on Thursday said it was too crowded over recent weekends.

"I’m so shocked by the amount of people that are here on weekends, it’s overwhelming," says Liz Dion, who is a local at the Burnstown Beach. Dion says she has a system to avoid the large crowds, "What I do is I come in at 9 a.m. in the morning and I reserve my table and I usually leave by 1 p.m."

“There’s no way that it’s possible to keep the social distancing. The beach is not all that large,” remarked Peckett.

The McNab/Braeside mayor says paying officers to patrol the beach is not an option for the township.

“Cost-wise, the OPP drop in every once and a while. But to my knowledge have not laid any charges in regards to social distancing.”

As 1 p.m. approached, Dion was packing up for the day. “Everybody is entitled to enjoy the summer, so I don’t have a problem with that. So I don’t know what the solution is.”