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Proposed changes aim to protect Prince Edward County’s former ‘secret’ beaches

UPDATE SEPT. 20: Council approved the changes to access, altering wording to allow mobility aids or accessibility devices and emergency vehicles. The word ‘motorized’ was removed, leaving just vehicles. Allowances for bicycles and horses were also removed. Bicycles can be parked at the entrances. The issue of horses was not part of discussions with neighbours and it was decided their removal would thereby simplify the process and also avoid their interactions of horses with the public, pollution and erosion issues.

UPDATE: Council’s meeting has been recessed to next Tuesday due to technical difficulties with Zoom and video feeds.

Increased tourism and resident usage of some former “secret” beaches in Prince Edward County has now led to proposed changes to access.

The areas, which have been used for generations in an informal way, are threatened with increased use, states Emily Cowan, director of community services, programs and initiatives, in her report to council.

“This increased informal use poses a threat to the sensitive beach and dune systems of this area. The increased use has also created trespassing concerns, concerns about road safety and emergency access, and interest in services such as garbage and washroom facilities,” states Cowan.

Some controls, such as parking restrictions on the beach access roads, have been implemented in the area since the summer of 2020.

“The municipality has an opportunity to work with local landowners, regional conservation partners and the public to protect these sensitive beach systems while continuing to permit responsible pedestrian access.”

Council, at Tuesday night’s meeting, will hear results of the report it requested in closed session last month on right of passage by the public to pedestrian only and time of day access and passage on the following roads:

a. Coastal Quarter Session Road allowance along the western coast line in its entirety from Arthur Road to County Road 20 (Huyck’s Point Road);
b. That portion of Arthur Road from the point at which is it unimproved to the coastal Quarter Session Road;
c. That portion of County Road 27 from the point at which it is unimproved to the coastal Quarter Session Road;
d. That portion of Bakker Road from the point at which it is unimproved to the coastal Quarter Session Road;
e. That portion of County Road 20 (Huyck’s Point Road) from the point at which it is unimproved to the coastal Quarter Session Road.

In the report, staff are proposing municipal improvements around the beaches to address parking and public access, restrict motorized vehicle use on the beaches and their access points, and promote responsible pedestrian access to the sensitive dynamic beaches. Staff are also recommending local and regional conservation partnerships be explored to support future capital improvements and maintenance costs.

The beaches on western shore can be accessed from the ends of Huyck’s Point Road, Bakker Road, Arthur Road and County Road 27 (North Beach Road.)

A municipal road allowance running along the length of the beaches was established through the bylaw of the Quarter Sessions in 1811. (The road is referred to as the “Quarter Sessions Road” throughout the report.

The plan detailed would allow the municipality to assert its ownership of the Quarter Sessions Road in an effort to protect the sensitive beach systems.

“This would be achieved by engaging an Ontario Land Surveyor to establish the location of the road, and registering the plan with the registry office. Council directed staff to begin that process at the Aug. 16, 2022 closed session. This process also involves consultation and negotiation with adjacent landowners, which is also underway.”

The Bay of Quinte and Lake Ontario Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) defines a dynamic beach as “a portion of the shoreline featuring sediment transported by wave action… and associated dune systems potentially subjected to reshaping during periods of high water levels and intense storms.”

According to the SMP, “the narrow barrier beach system on the western shore [of Prince Edward County] are less resilient and are therefore less likely to recover from periods of high lake levels and major storms. In addition to providing protection from wave action and erosion, dynamic beaches provide critical habitat, ecological and environmental benefits.” The dynamic beaches along the western shore protect extensive coastal wetlands and shallow warm water habitat.

The SMP indicates the long-term recession rates for mapping the erosion hazard was 0.15m/yr. There is limited new sediment to supply the barrier beaches. Through the SMP, Quinte Conservation proposes sediment management to ensure the stability of the beaches. The SMP recommends maintaining natural shorelines, geodiversity, and vegetation. This would preserve resilience, natural protection, and provide ecological benefits. The plan also recommends avoiding any new development and protecting the dynamic beaches through careful design.

Staff are recommending the municipality clear the title to the western beaches Quarter Sessions Road with the land registry and enact a bylaw to restrict public passage over the road to pedestrians only. Vehicles would no longer be permitted on the Quarter Sessions Road, and therefore, in effect, the western dynamic beaches.

Similarly, staff are recommending the municipality also change the status of the ends of roads leading to the western beaches Quarter Sessions Road. This would include Arthur Road, Huyck’s Point Road, County Road 27 and Bakker Road, from the point where they are “unimproved” to the terminus of the roads.

Vehicles would not be permitted on these unimproved sections of the roads. Public access by foot, (bicycle or horse removed) would be permitted from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The bylaw would not impact use by emergency vehicles.

Funding for the ends of Bakker Road and Huyck’s Point Road improvements where they meet the western beaches in the amount of $27,000 has been included in the Tourism Management section of the 2022 Operating Budget, funded by the Municipal Accommodation Tax revenues.
While improvements at the ends of Arthur Road and North Beach Road where they meet the western beaches was not included but is anticipated the additional work can be absorbed into the approved budget. It is noted the rising cost of equipment rentals and materials could limit the amount of unbudgeted work completed in 2022.
The cost of the Ontario Land Survey and registration of the Quarter Sessions Road is estimated to be approximately $25,000 and is suggested it can also be absorbed within the 2022 operational budget.

Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m.

 

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  1. Kevin says:

    I am a strong supporter of preservation and support the protection of eco systems. This does not sound like it’s putting the eco systems first. It’s trying to accommodate more visitors and tourists. If ATV’s were really a problem, then why now, and why at those locations? Ditto that it’s like the millennium trail and all the people who want to take over and tell everyone else how to run things.

  2. Sam Lanfranco says:

    One idea for maintenance of the Millennium Trail might be to look at the policies for the Snowmobile trails to the north and for the PEC boat launches. That would be to have modestly priced annual passes for ATV (& snowmobile) summer and winter trail use and a modestly priced day rate, purchased online, with the funding earmarked for Millennium Trail maintenance. Rates would not be set to cover the full costs of Trail maintenance since the Trail is also used by walkers and bikes, where free access supports and encourages local and visitor use.

  3. Roland Gillespie says:

    Can you hear all the vintage vehicle owners whining when the Province stepped in and made a Provincial Park out of the Outlet Beach, restricting said cars from the beach. The natural habitat was being destroyed because of the free-for-all attitude of its usage. It’s only a matter of time until ATVs (and other vehicles, including the now infamous SHERP) will be banned from these fragile ecosystems which are meant to be conserved for wildlife, along with the enjoyment of everyone, in a natural unspoiled, and untrammelled, environment.

  4. B Wilder says:

    Folks, read the article. It is focused on protection of a fragile ecosystem. With all due respect to ATV owners and drivers, those devices do dig up the surfaces they operate upon: much more than pedestrians and bicycles. If you doubt that look at the Millenium Trail – skid marks, holes made by spinning tires, the beginnings of ruts that match tires and material displaced from the centre to the edges of the trail. That is on a packed, hard surface. Now imagine that on beach sand. A beach is for enjoying time by the water, not for riding a powered vehicle.

  5. Dan2 says:

    Not many tourist riding atv’s. This latest recommendation is tailored to locals. We live on an island, unless you go to a provincial beach, Wellington beach, or lucky enough to own waterfront. Water access has become very difficult and potentially costly. Except if you bike or walk in, some of suggested areas are not accessible, there is no parking available. And this new proposal ensures more limitations. Perpetual restrictions and penalties are not the answer. Why was alternate parking or public consultation not even a consideration

  6. Mike Rodgers says:

    And yet another perk from the original county past starts to fade away for the the true county folks, by the way tourism is good for us.

  7. Dan says:

    So the tourists come use the beaches and make a mess and the solution is to ban ATV’s that local folks use to enjoy the beaches and get outside? I fear we are one step away from the same thing on the Millennium Trail.

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