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Plan to manage Prince Edward County’s tourism ready to roll into summer

By Sharon Harrison
Prince Edward County’s plan to manage an expected wave of tourists this summer includes an online ‘Summer Hub’ resource among other methods to help avoid last year’s turbulent season.

The new Tourism Management plan was explained in a special meeting Wednesday, ahead of a public meeting to be held next week. The presentation highlighted plans to mitigate challenges faced during a difficult 2020 summer season by residents, businesses and amenities.

Mayor Steve Ferguson said the “extraordinary influx of domestic travellers” was the result of a combination of issues last year, including the general desire for the public to escape urban areas during the pandemic, and a lack of travel alternatives.

“I think it’s an understatement to say tourism levels reached unprecedented levels in 2020,” said Ferguson, who also acknowledged the “general level of public frustration and anger about the affects of the pandemic on our day-to-day lives.”

“While there is still some uncertainty what this summer will look like given COVID-19, we are much better prepared to manage and respond to high tourism volumes,” said Ferguson. “This plan will not solve all of the issues overnight. However, we have focused on addressing the areas under the municipality’s control and working with our community partners to develop additional solutions.”

Todd Davis, director of community services, programs and initiatives outlined what the the Tourism Management Plan (TMP) means for residents, and how it will work.

Six key troubling areas of significance were identified as needing improved management: Wellington beach, community boat launches, parking and bylaw enforcement, garbage and washrooms, communication, and visitor services.

In March, an admission fee for Wellington Beach was established – per person on Saturdays, Sunday and holidays. Residents will be free of charge with a Wellington Rotary Beach Pass to be available at the PEC libraries as of May 21, and at Shire Hall when it re-opens.

No advanced bookings, just first come, first served with a maximum of 350 people. A number of spots will be reserved on a daily basis for residents.

“We realize if we are to control access to the beach, we need to provide some more amenities, so to support the activities at Wellington beach, the planning department brought forward a temporary zoning bylaw change to allow food trucks or food services at the beach for this year.”

He said the idea was to keep people on the beach in order to limit in and out privileges to help with the overall management of the process.

The municipality is looking at relocating the bulk water hauling station to the Wellington and District Community Centre to help reduce traffic and increase safety at the beach.

The boat launch will operate as usual Monday through Friday, but Saturdays, Sundays and holidays will be closed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Boats may exit the water, but may not launch during this time.

All boat launch users will pay for parking, not for launching.

“What we are piloting in the 2021 season is a shift from charging from launching to a pay for parking program,” said Davis.

For a boat with a trailer at a boat launch, the cost for parking will be $20; for just a vehicle, $10. This will include those using personal water craft.

Boat launch parking passes for the 2021 season for non-residents will be $100. Passes are to be avialable with a discount for residents.

The Belleville Street boat launch at Wellington is officially closed for the 2021 season.

“The reality behind the closure of the Belleville Street launch is simply the launch isn’t set to manage the amount of volume of traffic. We do not have access rights, and it is one of the primary causes of traffic congestion in and around the Wellington area,” said Davis. “While not a particularly popular decision, we feel from a logistical and operational, and health and safety perspective, staff and the OPP recommended the launch be closed.”

The County also looked at parking problems around some of the more heavily travelled areas of Prince Edward County and specifically around Sandbanks and North Beach provincial parks.

“We also looked to a series of other areas either related to conservation spaces and areas of high congregation around waterfront access,” he said.

A private security firm has been hired to provide additional staffing for parking and bylaw enforcement, seven days a week from May to October.

Parking enforcement officers will be working in all areas of the County from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Two-hour parking limits will be more rigorously enforced in Wellington.

“We have expanded the seasonal no parking zones in problem areas, such as Sandbanks Provincial Park, North Beach Provincial Park and other areas, and fines will be levied seven-days-a-week at those locations.”

Davis noted a more rigorous camping bylaw was passed with more significant fees in an attempt to discourage camping on public property, something that will also be enforced in greater measure this year.

Given the number of visitors from Quebec, bilingual signage will be implemented regarding parking, illegal camping and bylaws.

Davis said garbage and washrooms were a hot button issue last year in terms of management and locations.

This year, there will be 30 public washroom locations across the County for public use, some bricks and mortar, but also portable washrooms. A program piloted last year will be extended for 2021 providing cleaning up to three times a day in busier areas. Digital and print maps are being produced indicating where those facilities are located.

The number of garbage receptacles has been increased, as well as an enhanced maintenance schedule with increased daily garbage pick-ups.

Open flame and charcoal barbecues will be prohibited in parks, except propane will continue to be allowed (with the exception of Wellington park).

More and improved signage generally will be installed.

Davis spoke to managing visitors and encouraging people to be prepared before they come to Prince Edward County. He noted many people arrived without a plan, specifically those heading to Sandbank Provincial Park only to end up in a long line of traffic and ultimate be disappointed when they were turned away from a full park.

The County is in the process of developing a ‘Plan Your Visit’ campaign with assistance from other agencies.

“It’s less about encouraging people to come to Prince Edward County, but the message is to be more thoughtful before you arrive and plan your trip accordingly; recognizing that there will be areas that will be inaccessible based on visitor volumes.”

He says the focus will be on key search terms trying to reach visitors before they arrive in the County.

“We have also made arrangements to increase our seasonal staff for visitor services to be both available on evening and weekends to engage visitors when they come to the County and to provide resources.”

Julianne Snepsts, with the County, noted the new Summer Hub website is now live at, but will evolve as the summer goes along.

“It’s a communications campaign that will help residents navigate in Prince Edward County, specifically related to tourism management to help them plan for a better summer,” she said. “It’s a great one-stop resource for residents who have concerns and questions and don’t know who to contact.”

The website contains a number of key resources including a ‘who to call’ section, guide to summer parking and maps, and an alerts and notices section for beaches and parks, and the ferry.

Mayor Ferguson is pleased with the plan overall.

“By tackling the plan in small bites, we could really focus on ensuring the plan addressed major issues while also delivering benefits for our residents,” he said. “We cannot anticipate the weather for the summer months, nor the trajectory the pandemic may take, but I am very pleased that all parts of the plan have now come together as we head into the unofficial start to summer in less than two weeks, or depending on the extension of the lockdown, in early June.”

The Tourism Management Plan information session is open to residents and tourism partners and will be held Tuesday, May 18 at 7 p.m. through the County’s YouTube channel. Residents can submit questions in advance at

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Marie says:

    PEC residents pay exorbitant taxes so that visitors can enjoy the County at their expense. Quite a scam, I must say.

  2. Mark says:

    This evening through out their fast food and beer cans on my property. Nothing like a beer with my Big Mac as I head to the Park!

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    I have to admit that I did not tune in to watch this so called “online public meeting.” Personally, I don’t think such a thing truly exist. After reading this article, I don’t feel assured that anything will change for the residents of PEC for this summer. I don’t believe residents’ concerns were the focus of this “Tourists Plan” and they should have been. Instead, the Plan focused on how to make things easier for the tourists – from a Hub website to bilingual signage – with the hope of covering the costs.

    If the accommodation tax applies to only “roofed accommodation,” how does that help control the traffic to the Sandbanks and the number of day users?

    I don’t see any plan nor effort made to control the number of tourists coming to PEC. Isn’t the number one concern (expressed by the taxpayers who live here) the overcrowding of our roads, hospital, stores and our inability to use our community during the good weather? All I see is more bureaucracy, more staff time (who pays for that?) and less real problem solving. Then again, perhaps I am wrongly assuming that our politicians want to address the real money issues related to tourism.

  4. Teena Karsai says:

    Good point, JB. I stand corrected.

  5. JB says:

    This thought of paving over huge areas near the lake, including removal of trees, is crazy. We don’t need more parking lots. Street parking is fine. A traffic light, or crosswalk, and/or low speed limit with photo radar, etc. would do the trick. That’ll keep things slow and safe.

  6. Teena says:

    As the parking is for their customers, then they should provide the parking space on their property. Shouldn’t they?

  7. olmnonthemtn says:

    How does resort customers parking on resort property help with safety considering the fact that both sides of the road from the church to one lot past the park are restricted and there is now paid park parking. The volumes of sightseers we saw last year and possibly more this year will now attempt to park on either side of the road before the church and after the park where most of us live. It will narrow the road leaving them to have to walk the pavement and will obscure the entering/exiting of our properties as well as having us try to avoid jaywalkers walking out from parked cars.

  8. David Sutherland says:

    Wouldn’t it be much safer if the two restaurants’ customers parked on the Lake on the Mountain Resort property?

  9. CountySteve says:

    Too true. Council has agreed to remove parking on both sides of the road from old Glenora church to east of the park. I have been fighting this with Council to no avail. The originator said it was because of ‘safety’. That’s BS. Nothing safe about having people wandering the roadway, because they can’t park.
    I don’t know why intelligent people would vote for this. But something doesn’t smell right here.

  10. olmnonthemtn says:

    Lake on the Mountain is the elephant in the hamlet. Last year we endured high numbers of tourists and some of us hoped a tourist plan that especially related to parking would limit parking on one side of County Rd 7 from the park to Bradley Crossroad. We were concerned that on the right side of the road there were deep ditches leading to tourist parked cars being partially on the road. With parking on both sides of the road it could restrict the flow of 2way traffic and could make it hazardous for residents to enter and leave their residences.

    What we have been treated to is a solution that runs counter to our hopes. Council has decided in its omniscience to restrict parking on both sides of road from the Glenora church to 2 home lots after the park. To complicate things, the park has giveth and taken away it increased marginally its parking (given the volume of traffic!) but now charges for its parking. If a tourist wished to view the lake and the bay for 10-15min or maybe go to the washroom, they pay. If they can’t or won’t, guess where they’ll go – you guessed it, on both allowable sides of County 7 past the park for who knows how far. The elderly, disabled in wheelchairs/walkers or stroller children will have to make their way on the pavement. Yup the County and Park has just kicked the problem down the road. They excluded one of the best part of the road for stopping to see the views and will affect the operation of Lake on the Mountain Resort, Inn and Millar House.

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