The City of Barrie is taking further steps to curb crowding at its beaches, but it will not involve closing them off to non-residents.
City councillors gathered virtually on Monday to put into place tighter parking restrictions in areas surrounding city beaches as a means of keeping out-of-town crowds from forming. The City will now require resident waterfront parking passes on any vehicle parked on many streets within 500 metres of Wilkins Beach, a location that proved to be a problem area over several weekends.
The City is also moving to make sections of Vespra Street, Victoria Street, John Street, Sanford Street, and Ellen Street resident-only with aims to control crowds at Centennial Beach. A similar move was taken to curb crowding at Minet’s Point Beach, Johnson’s Beach, and Tyndale Beach.
Additionally, Lakeshore, Tyndale Park, the North Marina, and Spirit Catcher parking lots will be included in those counted as waterfront parking, and will also require a resident waterfront pass to park there.
Prior to Monday’s council decisions, a resident waterfront parking pass was only required at select municipal parking lots and along Lakeshore Drive.
These restrictions will be in place until mid-October. Those without a pass could face a parking ticket.
The city recently increased waterfront parking rates for out-of-towners to $10 an hour, and a daily maximum of $50 a day. The city has also applied to have higher parking violation fines but must receive approval from the provincial government first.
It is expected signage will be installed in affected areas within a week. A focus will be given to Wilkins and Tyndale Beaches, as city staff previously noted overcrowding there especially. It is expected the temporary signage will cost $42,000 and will be paid for via a council reserve fund and not from tax dollars.
A presentation at Barrie City Hall on Monday indicated restricting beach access to non-residents poses potential legal issues, according to City CAO Michael Prowse. “I mention that because it has been raised,” said Prowse. “Restricting parking access is clearly the most appropriate tool,” he added.
Monday’s presentation noted there is no evidence of a spike in community transmission since beaches opened. In fact, there has been an ongoing reduction in the number of cases locally.