BBQ and tent ban from Barrie waterfront parks and beaches gets initial approval

Inland parks would be exempt from the rules

It won’t be too long before the heat and humidity of summer takes hold and Barrie’s waterfront beaches become an attraction for a whole host of activities.

City council general committee on Monday gave tentative approval to a plan that would ban the use of barbecues and cooking appliances at waterfront parks and beaches.

Councillor Sergio Morales was able to get an amendment passed that would allow barbecues at inland parks.

“I don’t think the intent is to stop a family that has had a long week from taking a portable barbecue and grilling up some burgers and watching their kids play at the local park,” he said.

Charcoal-fuelled barbecues would be the only ones permitted at the inland parks.

Tents and sunshades would also be banned at city-owned waterfront properties, unless they are only supported by a single pole or have just one wall.

The update to the current parks’ bylaw is in response to the throngs of visitors that jammed waterfront parks during the pandemic last summer. The city temporarily banned the use of tents, barbecues and other cooking appliances at waterfront parks, trails and beaches.

“The use of barbecues and other cooking appliances resulted in complaints due to smoke and odours by park users and area residents. In addition, staff also noted increased garbage and debris as well as dumping of materials that were still a potential ignition source,” explained enforcement services supervisor Jason Forgrave.

Staff also noted there are safety concerns with tents obstructing the view of the waterfront, in particular for lifeguards.

The city is not entirely scrapping a barbecue at the waterfront. There are plans down the road to install permanent community-use barbecues at Centennial Park in phase one and Tyndale Park in phase two, but that won’t happen until the pandemic is declared over.

Mayor Jeff Lehman praised staff for bringing forward a ban that reflects safety concerns, but a solution that allows the activity to continue safely.

“I often think of our parks as backyards for people who don’t have a backyard,” said Lehman.”

“For a number of cultures, the barbecue is one of the centrepieces of a family day at the park or at the beach. I think especially of Korean families, Indian families and Latin families who move to Barrie, this is more a part of their tradition in many ways than for some other cultures. I think having a designated spot in waterfront parks is exactly the right way to go about this. The safety concern is real. It’s just a matter of time before we have a garbage fire or something else that’s a real problem.”

Fines for a violation would range from $100 to $1,000.

The proposed changes will come up for a final vote at city council on April 12.