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Sun has set on free beach days; PEC tourism management continues

The free day-use pilot program at 115 Ontario provincial parks ended on Sept. 2 – but reservations for daily vehicle permits are still required to gain guaranteed entry.

Visitors to Sandbanks Provincial Park must now pay $21 and for North Beach, $18. People with season passes must also still reserve their visits, but do not pay for entry.

Each month during the summer, Prince Edward County has been releasing a public survey to analyze results for future planning. For the June/July survey (August still being compiled), there were just 107 respondents, but 48 of those stated access to Sandbanks and North Beach was “much worse” and 19 choose “slightly worse” than last year. Just nine respondents said the access was “much better”, and 12 “slightly better”.

Most also stated their booking experience to access the park was “very poor” (12 answers for 30 per cent) “somewhat poor” (11 answers for 27.5 per cent) and “somewhat good experience” (at nine answers for 22.5 per cent). Just four people answered “a very good experience”.

Results to surveys from people who have used the booking system this summer are being compiled by Ontario Parks and are expected to be used to model next year’s season.

The County, on its new Summer Hub website page, has also been compiling statistics for the summer. Among the numbers:

Sandbanks Provincial Park was sold out for 58 days this summer (six in June, 24 in July, and 28 days straight in August).

North Beach was sold out for 32 days this summer (two in June, 11 in July and 19 days in August)

Wellington Rotary Beach was fully booked for 10 days this summer, (seven in July and three in August). The County Summer Hub website states 78 per cent of visitors at Wellington Beach paid $10 admission on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays while 22 per cent of visitors used the beach pass for residents/ratepayers. There were 1,120 beach day use passes issued to residents and ratepayers this year.

Little Bluff Conservation Area was fully sold out for four days (two in July and two in August). The new cost for the season is $15 per car.

There were 325 seasonal boat launch passes sold for the season ($56.50 for residents and $113 for visitors). Parking fees are $20 per vehicle with a trailer; $10 without a trailer.

The County increased bylaw enforcement capacity this summer to better manage illegal camping, parking, short-term accommodation (STA) and nuisance complaints.

Seasonal no-parking zones (mostly at water access points) are enforced seven days/week from May to October (with the exception of North Beach Road which is enforced during the North Beach Provincial Park operating season).

As of Aug. 30, The County issued 803 warnings at seasonal no-parking zones since the Tourism Management Plan was implemented May 21, 2021.

There were 603 parking tickets issued at municipal boat launches since the transition from the pay-to-launch honour system to the pay-to-park system.

There were 385 of the $400 parking tickets written at seasonal no-parking zones since the fees and charges bylaw came into effect May 26 and 11 $500 illegal camping tickets were written since the fine was approved by the province on June 23.

The County estimated it would cost $642,320 to implement the Tourism Management Plan and expects it will be paid for from user fees, fines and the Municipal Accommodations Tax charged to visitors when they book accommodations (estimated at $390,320).

It estimates the parking fines and beach entry fees at Wellington will earn $252,000 in new revenue.

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  1. Chuck says:

    Now that us poor locals can get in, we have to pay, after all our visitors went all summer for free! Sounds fair.

  2. What a mess! Now that few will visit sandbanks after the weekend, they will charge 21$! When they should have charge at least 10$ per day instead of free and used this money to upgrade facilities. What they did was opened another trailer site…so much for the environment!
    The A G Ontario should audit Ontario Parks especially how they planned Their spring 2021 decisions!

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