Possible closure of beach at Wilkins Park, permanent ban on use of tents and BBQs at city beaches a possibility in Barrie

It has been a long, hot summer at Barrie's beaches during COVID-19

Some beachcombers may feel like they are getting sand kicked in their face.

City council general committee on Monday night gave staff the green light to investigate the process and the implications of closing the beach at Wilkins Park due to ongoing environmental damage to the area.

As well, staff will look at required by-law changes that would place permanent restrictions on the use of personal barbecues, tents and other equipment on City beaches.

The beach at Wilkins Park is tucked away in south Barrie but has attracted dozens of people each weekend this summer, much to the consternation of area residents, who have complained about visitors ignoring physical distancing protocols and using wooded areas as washrooms. There are no public washrooms at this beach.

In a report to general committee, staff indicated the beach is zoned Environmental Protection and there has been a deterioration of vegetation in the beach and forested area due to excessive use by people. Despite regeneration efforts, staff said the work is wasted when its overrun by crowds.

Barrie temporarily banned barbecues and tents at all City waterfront beaches on July 25, as well as trails and parks in those areas, due to concerns about overcrowding and violation of physical distancing guidelines during the pandemic.

Staff will report back to general committee by March 2021.

The City has already jacked parking rates for visitors to the waterfront and there are extra parking restrictions in place on streets near area beaches.