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Town unveils new measures to control crowds at Innisfil Beach

After busy Canada Day, officials are moving to try to stop the spread of COVID-19; Changes will be in force beginning Saturday
Innisfil Beach Park was a busy place on Canada Day, as shown in this file photo. Miriam King/InnisfilToday

Following a busy Canada Day, and in order to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Town of Innisfil is implementing several new measures to help ensure physical distancing, target illegally parked vehicles and encourage people to enjoy Innisfil’s beaches safely.

Effective Saturday, July 4, 2020, the Town of Innisfil is making the following changes to enhance the experience for beach-goers:    

  • Beaches in Motion – Visitors to Innisfil Beach Park (IBP) will no longer be permitted to loiter on the sand area (i.e. Sitting down or sunbathing are prohibited. Setting up umbrellas, coolers, chairs, etc. is also not permitted). People may walk, run or play on the sand—and use it to access the water. We simply ask that if you are on the beach, you must be actively in motion!          
  • Maximum Occupancy for Beaches – The beach areas at Leonard’s Beach and 9th Line Beach will have maximum occupancies that will be posted on local signage. Visitors will be expected to examine beach areas before entering and make a reasonable assessment about whether to enter or not. Town staff will be monitoring closely, however, we ask that everyone do their part in ensuring their safety and the safety of others around them.   
  • BBQs temporarily prohibited at IBP – Barbecues and/or any other similar equipment used for outdoor cooking will not be permitted in any areas of IBP until further notice. This measure will help free up town resources to enforce other measures at the park.          
  • Physical Distancing at IBP – Visitors to IBP will see large white circles painted on grass areas, spaced out approximately 2 metres (6 feet) apart to help ensure visitors practise physical distancing. Visitors will be expected to stay inside their circles with members of their Social Circle.          
  • Increased Enforcement – Starting this weekend, the Town of Innisfil’s Community Development Standards Branch Officers (By-Law Officers) will tow illegally-parked vehicles. In addition, Town staff are examining higher parking fines to deter would-be violators. For this weekend, South Simcoe Police and additional private security will be actively monitoring IBP to enforce many of these regulations.

“We really are doing everything possible within our power and resources to continue to keep these public spaces open for residents to enjoy safely. If these measures don’t work and if we see a lack of respect for physical distancing then unfortunately we may be in a position where we have to further restrict beach access,” said Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin.

“Everyone must remember this is still a pandemic and we as a municipality are doing everything we can to adapt as quickly as possible – but at the end of the day, only the public’s cooperation can help guarantee success. Our staff on the front lines have been working incredibly hard – going above and beyond in some very stressful situations – so we ask everyone for their support and to please be respectful at all times," said Dollin.

Council and staff at the Town of Innisfil have heard from a number of residents the desire to restrict access to IBP to non-residents.

Even if the Mayor or Council wanted to proceed with such a proposal, significant legal and operational hurdles have been identified, including the very real potential that a legal challenge may be brought to reverse any such decision by Council. 

While the Town is thoroughly investigating all options for the safe and gradual reopening of its parks and beaches, the Town of Innisfil is currently unaware of any other municipality in Ontario, or Canada for that matter, that has successfully implemented a public “resident-only” park.

As previously announced, in order to give residents priority access to public spaces, several public parking lots remain resident-only throughout Innisfil:      

  • 9th Line Road End          
  • 10th Line Park          
  • 12th/Mapleview Line Park and Lot         
  • 30th Sideroad North Road End and Dock         
  • Guest Road Lot         
  • Shore Acres (Neilly Road Lot)          
  • Belle Ewart Park         
  • Innisfil Beach Park (Lots A, B, C, E and F)  

Staff and council continue to look for ways to encourage and allow people to enjoy our beaches and park spaces in a way that promotes the safety and well-being of all during these challenging times.