Welcome to Wasaga Beach! But if you’re from out of town, piss off!
This is the sign that greets visitors to Wasaga Beach. Some kind of weird sparkly logo the town paid money for and hey, I’ll let that slide.
But this year what it should say is, “If you are from the Toronto area or Barrie, turn around and go home.”
So, some history.
Last summer high water levels reduced the actual beach…owned by the provincial park…to maybe 10 feet of space for your towel. The wind blew the sand across two lanes and a bike path of Beach Drive, and parking spaces in front of The Dardanella, Burger King, The Sandbar and that blue building that hasn’t been rented out in two years or more.
Properties owned by the Town of Wasaga Beach. The previous council, and Mayor Brian Smith, approved that purchase to save our tourism industry from the clutches of developers that had no interest in developing or maintaining those buildings. My friend Fred Char ran the beachfront Burger King for 25 years and had water dripping from his ceiling for more than a few seasons.
Okay. New governments, be they municipal, provincial or federal campaign on the sins of the current administration and vow to overturn every decision made by their predecessors.
Smith was pro tourism. Previous and current council felt if the weather was/is good, tourism will take care of itself.
Wasaga’s only industry.
No factories, just a town full of businesses that earn money from tourism and make do through the winter until the following May 2-4 weekend.
So…on Canada Day. Our nation’s birthday, always the busiest day of summer in Wasaga Beach, lo and behold thousands of people came to town to enjoy our sun, sand, soothing bay and 28c weather.
Who could have predicted that?
Council saw the throngs of people, heard from many of their supporters who wouldn’t hit the main beach if you paid them to because they hate crowds even in non-Covid times and said, let’s scold ‘em! Teach ‘em a lesson.
I’ve met all of them many times. They’re good, well-meaning people.
Today I had a few beers at The Sandbar and got a sub to go from the beachfront Subway…and was given a 10% local discount on my Spicy Italian sub because I’ve chatted with the young fellow behind the counter three or four times.
The town has installed fenceposts along the main beach, from Subway to Beach Two with the idea of stopping sunbathers from being on the 80% of beach that exists. The fence will be added by the end of the week. Go inside the forbidden zone, get fined $750.00.
The town added two feet of sand to what was Beach Drive, and a two-foot wall between that and the storefronts. In March and April. And now, stay off it.
I’ve never been a fan of Doug Ford but he is now fixing what he broke, or at least pledging to do so. He has found a middle ground between panic and recklessness. Good on him.
Our town has catered to the old folks who want Wasaga Beach to be Elliott Lake.
Pull up those fenceposts and give those beachfront businesses, and all the others in town who benefit from out-of-town visitors, a chance to make a few bucks in the two months of tourist season we have left. After Labour Day, we live in a ghost town (and many of those ghosts support our municipal councillors).
Yes, put a premium on our safety. That’s your job, along with maintaining roads and sewers.
But look at it from all sides, rather than the distorted views created by cameras with long lenses that make groups six feet apart look like they’re side by side.
And speaking of knowing what’s right, don’t you feel safer in the open air than at Walmart? I do. Transmission is much lower outdoors.
Use your own eyes, and common sense.