Simone Wellington was looking forward to spending her birthday afternoon at Bay Beach in Fort Erie – but was turned back at the entrance on Friday by city staff because she came from outside the city.
When the Toronto resident and two other women arrived at the door, they learned that a seasonal pass is required to access the popular beach along the shore of Lake Erie at Crystal Beach.
And passes, they were told, are only issued to people with a Fort Erie address this year.
They said they drove two hours from the big city. After being denied entry, the trio said they would follow advice from a city employee at the site that other places like Crescent and Bernard beaches are open to everyone.
“I know the beaches are open, but I didn’t know that for local residents. It’s disappointing, “she said, adding that they could make it to Nickel Beach in Port Colborne, which also opened to the public on Friday without restrictions on where to live.
Bay Beach opened on Friday.
The residents of Ridgeway Alyssa and Scott French, holders of the required passes, enjoyed the good weather with their children around 2 p.m.
In previous summers, the couple waited in the evening to go to the beach to avoid the thousands of people they often attract on sunny weekends.
They’re more comfortable going in the middle of the afternoon now with the new rules in place.
“I think it will be a welcome change, which will not be invaded by so many other people,” said Alyssa, seated on a blanket about 10 feet from the water’s edge.
“We get a front row seat on the water, without fighting to cross anyone,” she added.
Scott said they failed to go to the busy beach often in 2019 when it reopened after an almost $ 3 million overhaul that created new parking options, a playground, a lodge, sidewalks, a park, restrooms and lockers.
“After the redesign, there were a lot of people and we weren’t really here as much,” he said.
Alyssa said the time to reopen the beach could not have been better because the children had just wrapped up their last day of school at home.
It is a great reward for them after more than three months of adjustment to life during the pandemic.
“Today is really the first official day of summer, so they were looking forward to coming here,” she said.
There appeared to be around 100 people in the middle of the afternoon on Friday. The beach is open to people with passes from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Daily.
To ensure physical distance, beach staff only allow a maximum of 2,000 people per day.
On its website, the city lists attendance at the beach. At 3.30 p.m. he indicated that the site was half full.
Passes can be collected at the Leisureplex, Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to noon.
They are offered to residents of Fort Erie, taxpayers and short-term rental operators with proof of address such as a driver’s license, passport, tax invoice or any invoice showing the name and address of the person, says a press release from the municipality.
Spokesperson Janine Tessmer said there are about 6,000 seasonal season ticket holders in the community.
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At 3:30 p.m. Friday, about 500 people visited the beach throughout the day, she said.
Asked about people outside of town trying to visit the beach, she replied that the director of parks and facilities, Sean Hutton, had not heard of any problems.
Kris Dubé is a reporter in St. Catharines for the Welland Tribune. Contact him by e-mail: [email protected]