All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Saturday, February 24th, 2024

Bumper-to-bumper to the beach and back – Sandbanks filled to capacity

sandbanks-trafficAll roads to Sandbanks Provincial Park were clogged with traffic Sunday afternoon as thousands of visitors tried to get to the beach. But Sandbanks was filled to capacity and had to close its gates mid afternoon.

The park’s Twitter feed began warning visitors to anticipate long line ups at about 10 a.m. Mid afternoon the parkย  recommended waiting until at least 4 p.m.

Police officers took to informing the public at Bloomfield ahead of the Cty Road 12 link to the beach and at the intersection of Cty roads 10 (link to Cty Rd 18 entrance) and Cty Rd 11 routes.

Facebook filled with warnings to avoid all the routes to the beach and a few reports of 45 minute trips from Picton to Cherry Valley – usually about 10 minutes. Some were gleefully reporting that routes through Hillier and Consecon to North Beach Provincial Park were clear sailing all day.

When the rain started falling after 7 p.m. tonight, the steady traffic heading out of the beach filled County Road 12 again, with bumper-to-bumper again through Bloomfield.

The holiday weekend beach traffic isn’t expected to repeat tomorrow as rain remains in the forecast.

bumber-to-bumper-going-homeCounty Road 12 at Bloomfield

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  1. Susan says:

    Ideas? A bypass from Hwy 49 to Loyalist Pkwy would help. More opportunities for growth and releave the traffic heading strait to their destination without piling up Main St. Also don’t put a Beer Store and an LCBO at opposite ends of town! That in itself would reduce a ton of vehicle backups on Main.

  2. ADJ says:

    Well I’m anxious to hear what solutions one can offer to relieve the pressure of the 4 months of the tourist traveller. Think tolls might help? think again. Four entry points staffed and serviced by authorities with big attitudes,figure in the numbers to just keep it open 24/7,add in the building facility for these visitors to cross into our County and on it goes….ridiculous!
    And don’t even think of asking businesses to collect a tax for each tourist customer!! try and sort that one out. Besides we are already not paid to collect tax for the prov. and fed. govts. So until someone comes up with another hairbrain scheme to screw the honest merchants quit whinin…We are happy to have the tourist much like Cuba was for many years. They had nothing else going for them either.

  3. Marnie says:

    Exactly Samantha. There is nothing wrong with having tourism in the county but we are not equipped to cope with it at its present level.

  4. Mark says:

    Samantha, you make excellent points on this.

  5. Samantha says:

    It sounds like we are talking Regime Change here. In ecology, when there is a massive, abrupt and persistent change in the structure and function of a place, it substantially affects the flow of ecosystem services upon which the different plant and animal populations rely upon to survive. Some species may thrive with the change, and others not so much.

    Whether or not I will survive this Regime Change is yet to be seen. I definitely miss stores like Stedman’s and Lipson’s, get bothered by the volume of traffic and the exponential increase in dangerous, idiotic driving, and wish I could find one piece of shore that doesn’t have a heap of garbage all over it. At the same time, I do enjoy the different cuisines, all the creative endeavours, and the sight of young families making their homes here. Wherever we may fall in the spectrum of reaction to the Regime Change, we share this home, so can we stop casting a little less shade and start appreciating the experience in one another’s view points?

    My concern is our carrying capacity – which is the maximum population size of a species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water, and other necessities available. Although people will tell you otherwise, infinite growth from finite resources is not possible. Something will give under the extraordinary increasing pressure of our dramatically enhanced population in the summer. Frankly, I think the roadblock is just a harbinger of things to come.

  6. Paul says:

    I don’t think your out of step Marnie along with a lot of other long time residents and retiree’s who use to enjoy the laid back feel of The County.. However The County much like a young man who’s become to big for his britches we must come to the realizations that’s something’s gotta give. Destination Tax anyone ????

  7. Marnie says:

    Sorry I am so ’60’s and out of step with the times in your view ADJ.If jamming the town with tourists until traffic can barely move is the wave of the future I fail to see the appeal. Ditto for lining Main Street with expensive stores that do not sell the everyday items that we all need from time to time. It makes a good case for shopping in Belleville. How does that tie in with all the promos about buying locally and being willing to support our local merchants by paying a little more for their wares? I may be ’60’s but I can see that Picton is fast becoming an outpost rather than a self-sufficient town. A great place to visit but maybe not the place to live for much longer.

  8. ADJ says:

    Yoo Hoo Marnie livin in the 60s!
    I think you have wandered away from the point you are trying to make…Too much un-necessary info!
    Totally confused but here are some facts…
    Lipsons, Masons stores were privately owned and closed out as you said because the owners were no longer balancing the books at the end of the year and of course their age was a factor.Stedmans was a Company branch store owned by a head office. To re-invent and re-stock the store with “trendy” items just was not profitable.They made their fortune and now wanted to enjoy a few years of retirement.
    Much of Audiovisions business was lost to the computer age from buying on line to taking photos for ID etc.I know I’ve done it.
    Sorry your not up to speed in the real world of sales. As you know you will search a long time to find a Canada made product…and many times you will pay more for it. It’s a shame but sadly the truth.Blame our government and the relaxed trade laws but I again don’t see a connection between that and tourism.

  9. Marnie says:

    Mac, please tell me when the male residents of the town of Picton stopped wearing trousers and the women no longer required dresses or unmentionables. Since Lipson’s and Mason’s were selling these items along with bedding, footwear and hats I fail to see how they were behind the times. As you know the Lipson chain grew from the days when Alex Lipson sold women’s silk stockings from a pedlar’s wagon. I rather suspect that the family did not want to sell that business to anyone. Ditto for Mason’s Dept.Stores. Had they wished to sell I expect buyers could have been found. These merchants could have retired long before they did if they had no customers to speak of and were turning no profits. AudionVision was a privately owned husband and wife business not a big box store like Wal-Mart. Why would it surprise you that they charged more? Most stores charge more than Wal-Mart.

    There is no contradiction in my position. What part of I think we have too many tourists for the size of this community is confusing to you? Glad you like those traffic jams on Main Street. Happy you don’t think this traffic does not have any negative impact on local residents. When they go home next month it will be the unsung locals who keep the town open until May 24th 2016. It’s our tax dollars that keep Picton on the map.

  10. Mac says:

    Why is it justified for audio/vision to charge more? But not any other store? Seems to me that your view is a bit biased. You could use your excuse for every store then. You also cant compare Walmart to stores here, the quality is way better here and a lot of stuff is locally made.
    Again, I dont personally profit from those who travel here. But still see how this town benfits from the wonderful people who come to visit.
    Like any town, stores close because the need for certain things are not needed, and although I miss those stores you speak of, the reality is, they were not keeping up to the general populations need, as much as they were loved. Realistically, if they were making a profit, someone else would have purchased them and contined the business.
    But it seems you have reasons for everything even though you have often contradicted yourself through out this conversation.

    Its better to see things through positive, other wise it makes a very hard place to live, if you keep seeing it through negative eyes.

  11. Marnie says:

    Mac, it is unfair to say that department stores such as Lipson’s and Mason’s closed because they were no longer profitable. The owners grew old, retired, and died. Lipson’s gave summer jobs to a lot of students through the years and offered a wide selection of everyday items at reasonable prices. Mason’s also gave work to a number of local people and carried sensibly priced goods. The Stedman store was another place to shop for a lot of everyday items that were sensibly priced. If these places were no longer profitable it would have to have been because the town suddenly became populated by people with no concern whatever about the price of everyday household goods. In a county where many people hold minimum wage jobs or part-time jobs high-end stores do not serve the needs of most locals.

    AudioVision might have charged $2O. for a passport photo but factor in the cost of your gas to drive to Belleville and you did not save a bundle. As for comparing frames from the GT boutique to frames from AudioVision the former are not of similar quality although they may be adequate.

    Maybe you can buy appliances in Wellington but at one time you could buy them in Picton, too. Nice if that were still possible. Once it becomes necessary to drive it is just as easy to find Smitty. The price is right and it’s same-day service with courteous deliverymen.

    If our town is viable only because of hundreds of tourists lining up for miles to visit the Sandbanks and clogging Main Street on their way to who knows where then it is a sad commentary on Picton. We have become a tourist trap rather than a vital community with real stores and real jobs, not a lot of seasonal minimum wage jobs that end with summer. Most of the people who love those tourists are making money from them. That’s how they get those passports because in the winter they are out of Dodge thanks to the summer trade. Nothing wrong with that but it does explain their willingness to give the keys to the town to tourists.

    If your theories are correct Mac in a few years time all of the real stores will be gone and Main Street will consist of fancy eateries,expensive gift shops, and fashionable boutiques because they are all that is profitable. The locals will not have to worry about parking for they’ll all be at Wal-Mart having their passport photos taken for their annual vacations in Rose Hall, Cressy, or Demorestville, easily affordable destinations on their minimum wage jobs as servers and cleaners in the tourist industry.

  12. Mac says:

    Photo vision was never an essential store, nor cheap. Costing 20 dollars for a passport picture, where walmart was 8. And their frames were extremely pricey. So not really comparable. Not when giant tiger sells frams for 5 dollars (beautiful ones at that) and in regards to appliances, in thenpast 6 months, I have had to purchase a washing machine and a dish washer, both which were significantly cheaper at wellington home hardware then any place in belleville and toronto included. Better service there and everything was done for me, at no extra cost. (Also a local family owned business)
    These stores that you speak of, that no longer exist, dont exist because they werent profiting, meaning that the locals werent buying any of them either. So they had to close, they didnt close because the amount of tourists were to much to handle.
    So all these essential stores that you speak of (although I wouldnt consider a t.v store an essential) didnt survive, because locals werent buying much from them. It would be interesting to see how they would have done with the influx of tourists.
    Its really unfortunate that you see this increase as such a negative experience for the county. An increase in business, an increase in employment, and the coolest part is all the wonderful people it brings. I have had the opportunity to meet such amazing people, and now get to go visit them in their home towns.
    Different perspectives are brought in, allowing this county to evolve, what a wonderful place for kids to grow up ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Marnie says:

    Mac,I make no apologies for my observation that Picton has few essential stores. That beautiful shoe store that you mention sells shoes that start at $100. a pair. The average county shopper might find them just a bit pricey. City Revival sells pre-owned designer duds that are definitely not cheap. I would not call the merchandise at either of these shops “essential” to the average county resident with a modest income. Nice as expensive shoes and test-driven designer clothing may be they are not must-haves for many county families. We hear a lot about shopping locally to support our merchants but in the tourist season just try and find a parking space. It’s far easier to drive to the mall where there is lots of free parking or Wal-Mart where prices make better sense for anyone on a budget. Never mind that most of Wal-Mart’s inventory comes from China. A lot of the pricey goods sold in the non-essentials stores here originate there as well. If you think Picton is served by an impressive number of shops selling everyday items consider those stoves and fridges that you say the B and B’s buy because of the tourists. Picton, I believe, may still have one store that sells a limited selection of appliances. No chance for comparison shopping there. Want a new TV? – not much of a selection in Picton. No appliance stores per se. We lost those years ago. Now that AudioVision has closed where in Picton can you have a print framed or find a good selection of photo frames or photo albums? We had more stores selling a good range of everyday items of reasonable quality long before the tourist boom.

  14. Susan says:

    Hi Ryan. I contribute significantly if it is your business! Big taxes that I am fortunate enough to be able to handle. Youth jobs in a tourist based economy will not allow them to raise families and own a home here. Try living on $12.00 an hour. Service jobs are there half of the year but it is no stable future for the young.

  15. Ryan says:

    Great points Mac! Couldn’t agree more!

  16. Mac says:

    Its interesting to read comments from Marnie and Susan who apparently think they speak on behalf of those who dont own a business in the county. With comments indicating that it only benefits those with businesses and that those tourists dont by fridges and stoves. I think some individuals need to look beyond their own front yards and their own personal views before they think they can speak on behalf of others. For one, “quick stay” visitors may not buy fridges and stoves, but those who provide accomodations and rentals for those visitors, do buy appliances and furnishings because of the influx of tourism.
    And in reponse to the tourists only helping small buisnesses. Also not true. I had to move away 8 years ago because jobs were few and little opportunities for me to raise a family. With the increase of tourists, I am now able to move back to my home town, start a family and provide my child with more opportunities then I had growing up here. More buisnesses have started, providing more employment opportunites, more enterpaneur opportunities to start, ultimately bringing more families with children who are willing to stay here and live. This increases the amount of children in the schools, again, increasing more job opportunities. You can see where I am going here. I do not own my own buisness, I am an employee.
    There was also a comment about high expensive shops and no essential stores for locals. Which ones are not essential? The three large grocery stores? The two drug stores? The beautiful shoe store? City revival? The cafes? Tim hortans? Prince Edwaed Pizza? Angelos? Imperial sub? All the farm stands? All of which are very reasonably priced, if not, cheap. And to add to my point, all owned by locals in Prince Edward county who have so wonderfully employed local adults and teens for years.

    Thanks to all the tourists, I for one, am so happy for what you have contributed to this town ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Marnie says:

    Ryan, I do not see how our work histories are relevant to the discussion. Sorry but unlike the pricey eateries and trendy shops I have never employed anyone – I have never owned such businesses for I have never had that kind of start-up capital. I have been gainfully employed all my life although not in the tourist industry and have for many years been a taxpayer in the county. I do volunteer work in the county and participate in many county activities. What is my vision for the county? One thing I know for certain – I do not want to see it as another Alexandria Bay – not a real town at all, just a summer place overrun by tourists. I’d like to see a few more real stores on Main Street selling essential goods and services. Tourism definitely should be part of the picture but at its present level whether you admit it or not it is having a negative impact on the daily life of permanent residents of the county. It’s too much of a good thing. It’s fine for those like ADJ who see it as a ticket to Arizona every winter but for those of us who do not profit from it directly it’s a different story. We may become the victims of our own success. Eventually some of those tourists like the ones who could not get into Sandbanks Park after driving for hours will tire of the line-ups, the traffic congestion, and the difficulty of finding accommodations when there is no room at the inn. They may look to other vacation areas. The county will have become as congested as the places they are fleeing to get away from it all.

  18. Ryan says:

    After reading the comments from Susan and Marnie I think it’s fair to ask what you two do for a living? How do you contribute to the County? Do you employ people like the ‘pricey eateries and trendy shops’ do? What is your ideal County? How do you see it supporting itself without tourism?
    In many cases these businesses that you speak of employ our youth and give them a chance to pay for post secondary school or provide opportiunity for young people to stay in the County. I’d be really wary of criticizing them as I think it is unfair and not well thought out.

  19. Susan says:

    And how does that help the tax base Ken. The stores don’t contribute more to property taxes because of increased sales. The workers are near minimum wage. And the stressors on infrastructure have not been defined by local government so we can really understand the tradeoffs. We know infrastructure is taking a hit particularly to the urban taxpayer. Arizona, is that the answer for our seniors and young?

  20. Marnie says:

    Most tourists are just passing through our county. Why would they be buying fridges and patio sets? How would they get them home? Cottage owners might buy these items but tourists are not likely to spring for an air conditioner. It’s a valid point Ken.

  21. Ken Globe says:

    I see lots of patio sets, air conditioners, beer and wine fridges, bbq’s and bbq items go out of Home Hardware and Canadian Tire and they’re not all locals. So your point is moot Marnie.

  22. Marnie says:

    Ah! It becomes clear. You love the tourists because you derive considerable benefit from all of that traffic congestion. For those of us otherwise employed in jobs not dependent on tourism they do not hold such charm. While you are basking in the Arizona sun give thanks for those of us who keep the county open the rest of the year. A lot of businesses that sell essential goods and services would be forced to close their doors if it were not for us. When was the last time a tourist bought a piece of furniture, a new stove and fridge, a riding mower, or a snowblower?

  23. ADJ says:

    We think even those “trendy little stores” fill a void here in Bloomfield otherwise tourist wouldn’t beat a path to the door. I can’t afford my Arizona vacation without those tourist dollars!!
    My expenses on my trendy store are a write-off to my pension. What’s wrong with that? Want to live better…live smarter.

  24. Marnie says:

    Come on ADJ a lot of those trendy little stores are hobby businesses for well-fixed individuals who want pin money.

  25. ADJ says:

    Since most tourist occupy the rural areas we don’t believe that it affects the sewage/water rate of Picton + Bloomfield to any great extent. Ok, they flush a toilet in Picton or Bloomfield then wash their hands…Wow! $$$ Hardly worth a mention anyways considering the coin that is left behind at the shops and stores. Some good points have been mentioned here by Trevor how beneficial the tourism dollars are. The off season is often slow to stop for sales and the shop owner is affected drastically. If one doesn’t make it in peak season there is no off season. The shop is out of business.

  26. CE says:

    Pretty sure Bloomfield doesn’t have a sewage system?
    They are all on septic.

  27. Marnie says:

    I have heard more than once that tourists stress the sewerage system in Bloomfield. The certainly leave lots of garbage behind as well.

  28. Susan says:

    ADJ: it has been explained many, many times on here. Sorry you cannot see the reasoning. People tend to not see things that may cause them discomfort or financial impacts.

  29. ADJ says:

    Susan,,the tourist you see…are they all driving dump trucks or similar heavy equipment? The average vehicle(car, suv,van etc.) today doesn’t “pound” our roads. Very colorful statement but hardly accurate.
    Please explain clearly how the tourist stress your water and sewer in town?? I have thought this through and can not see your reasoning. I hope your prepared to back up your statements and not just rambling to see yourself in print.

  30. Chris says:

    I wonder if there is a correlation between the number of mosquitos this year and the number of tourists. No judgements here on the benefits or detriments of either tourists or mosquitos, well, maybe mosquitos, but it would be an interesting bit of research.

  31. Marnie says:

    Trevor, I clearly remember Bloomfield in the late ’80’s and there was a large grocery store where Diva and Casa Lucia now stand. David Quinter had an antiques shop at the present location of County Treasures and Christmas in the Village and Touch of Pine were popular stores. There was also a variety store where Reflections is now located. It did not seem much like a ghost village. I wonder how many people who live there today consider the constant traffic jam an improvement. How many taxpaying locals who want to use the ATM or the library rejoice at being unable to find a parking spot? As for the bonus of taxes paid by retirees I sure have not seen it on my tax bill. I have heard some of these same retirees say on more than one occasion that they hoped no more out-of-towners would discover the county. It was beginning to change from the peaceful community it had been when they first moved here.If it continues I suspect even the tourists will tire of the traffic jams and long line-ups and choose to holiday elsewhere.

  32. Trevor says:

    Marnie, Bloomfield was near ghost town in the 80’s, and its made a comeback. Ever since the late 90’s, July and Aug has been buzzing with tourists. This influx is now extended into the shoulder seasons with business picking back up starting with Maple, and not ending until after Christmas. Yes, the locals support the business’s, but most wouldn’t be here without the July/Aug nest egg for winter.
    But the bonus is people moving here who used to vacation here. People may be cynical of this, but again, this is new tax revenue which is less we locals have to pay towards the municipal annual budget as residents. Also, for those who think our roads are bad, go for a drive in rural Quebec!

  33. Susan says:

    Very few of those car loads of visitors spent much in the long, long traffic jam. They did prevent locals from getting home to their tax paying residence and they did continue the pounding of our roads at locals expense. Contrary to others kick at the soap box they do add stress to the water and wastewater in Picton also at the urban ratepayers expense.

  34. Marnie says:

    Sorry but I will not be embracing it anytime soon Tanya. The tourists do not keep our town alive. They are here for just eight or ten weeks of the year. It is the locals who keep it going. How do you think it survived before this current influx of visitors? Our town is kept alive by a lot of locals who have a real stake in it and care about it, not by carloads of tourists who cause a traffic jam on their way to the Sandbanks.

  35. Susan says:

    Well it got National CBC attention stating a 10 kilometer backup. Wish the CBC would cover the Turbine boondoggle as well!

  36. Tanya says:

    The county make a killing on ask those tourist everyone loves to complain about. Those same people who visit the beach go into all the small county towns to eat and shop. Without the tourist over half of the businesses in the county wouldn’t exist. They may be inconvenient but they pay for the county to keep going. So don’t hate on ebay puts foods on yours and most of your neighbors table.
    Yes i aslo grow up in the county and love to visit. Embrace it!

  37. Marnie says:

    They’ve found the back roads Trevor. Traffic is a lot heavier on many of them than it ever used to be. Sure we may not have empty store fronts but we don’t have many real stores either – just pricey eateries and gift shops. Bloomfield was a quaint little country village and now it is a circus. Ask the people who live there how they enjoy all those cars parked in front of their homes everyday. The only people who love the tourists in their current
    numbers are those who have something to sell to them.

  38. Trevor says:

    The cars don’t damage our roads. Frost and heavy trucks do. Everyone can complain all they want, but other municipalities would DIE to have an attraction such as the sandbanks! Look around you, while everyother downtown in eastern ontario is suffering from over 50% retail vacancies, Picton and Bloomfield have none. The economic spin off tourism brings to the county from small and medium sized business’s to people even investing here, far outweighs any annoyances we have to put up with for a few weeks. Take the back roads, enjoy the drive.

  39. Ken Globe says:

    Niagara Falls has a “tourist tax” at most restaurants. But if you call attention to it on your bill and refuse to pay it, they have to take it off your final total.

  40. Esther says:

    I so agree that we need to impose some type of tax or road fee. All the tourist traffic is wearing down our roads and there are no tax dollars being re-couped to fix this problem. Sure, we all benefit in some way from the influx of tourism, but when they are gone, who fixes the damage?

  41. Brandy says:

    remember with the low Canadian dollar and all of Quebec on construction holiday, Picton Sand banks and Wasaga beaches are the alternative for this year..

  42. Olmanonthemtn says:

    Hildagard you make a good point most towns and cities in Europe charge a visitor tax at resorts and hotels we should be charging a surcharge for those at the provincial parks since the province pays the County a pittance for its use of the land and maybe a County road toll booth to the entrances of the parks.

  43. Susan says:

    The County does not have the infrastructure to support this new wave. Somethings will have to change quickly to accomodate our visitors.

    On another familiar note, what are the taxes on an Industrial Wind Turbine?

  44. Marnie says:

    pman I grew up in the county too and Bloomfield never had the traffic that it saw yesterday. Main Street was never bumper to bumper as far as the eye could see either. It was busy, yes, but not like this. If you are suggesting that the tourist traffic we are seeing now is as it has been historically I think you need to pull up that lawn chair again and start counting cars.

  45. pman says:

    I grew up living on Westlake Road, the traffic during the summer has always been steady. Sunday was no different than earlier years. And NO, the traffic was not backed up from the park to Bloomfield, in fact there were times when there was no traffic going past my house. What happened in Bloomfield was because of the police stopping and warning people of the wait. If you grew up in the area you are used to the traffic, if you moved here from Toronto or other areas then you should be used to the traffic. I remember pulling up a lawn chair in my front yard when I was a kid and having fun counting the cars that went by, and there were times when I would get close to 100 before I saw a break in the line. Tourism is a fact of life in the county, always has been, always will be.

  46. Marnie says:

    It is my fervent hope that those who keep trumpeting how wonderful it is to have this influx of tourists were caught somewhere in the middle of that traffic jam. Tourism is one thing but our current situation is another. Most of them appeared to be headed for the beach so I doubt our local merchants made much on them. It is virtually impossible to visit Bloomfield library or the ATM at the bank there on a weekend. Picton is little better. Fine to say we can park off-street and walk but there are now cars on both sides of King Street and up Elizabeth Street.

  47. Gary says:

    I witnessed this in Bloomfield yesterday. Cars backed up from the Park to within the village. Craziness. This is not good for the County. You can’t move in Picton with cars lined up at both ends. This is not the relaxed quiet life we once rejoiced.

  48. Marnie says:

    Isn’t tourism grand? No wonder we need road repairs.

  49. Hildagard says:

    Now if the County could only collect a toonie for every car entering the Parks, we might be able to do a better job repairing the roads in the County!

  50. Susan says:

    Think perhaps we are over populated here?

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