SOUTH STORMONT, Ontario – The St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC) has shared that during the month of July, the vast majority of visitors to their parks were from outside of Ontario.
While SLPC states that they do not track the specific place of origin of each guest, they are able to confirm that 90 per cent of the license plates of visiting cars were from out of the province.
The most popular beach was Milles Roches Beach on the Long Sault Parkway which saw 6,957 day use customers between June 26 and July 19 of this year. Another beach on the Parkway, Woodlands beach, saw 1,200 day use customers in roughly one week between July 11 and July 19. Both of these beaches are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.
Seaway News published an Editorial on July 22 commenting on the popularity of the parks and received several responses from readers upset about a lack of social distancing, littering, and even defecation in parks on the Long Sault Parkway.
“I live in eastern Ontario along the St Lawrence River. The white elephant here that is not being addressed is the cross border travelling of Quebecers in to Cornwall Area beaches and parks. They are coming even after being told the Parkway is closed/ the beaches and Parks are closed,” reads a Letter to the Editor sent to Seaway News and other media outlets by Kim McIntosh on July 7, prior to the official opening of the parks.
In response to inquiries from Seaway News SLPC explained efforts they have taken to ensure social distancing and address littering issues now that the parks are officially opened.
“A limited capacity of 400 people has been implemented for the 2020 season and safety protocols have been established to mitigate overcrowding and to help ensure physical distancing, in addition to following all health and safety protocols and guidelines set by the province,” reads a statement from SLPC.
SLPC stated that their parks have reached capacity on weekends on days with good weather and twice during the week since the parks have re-opened.
“We have received feedback regarding the volume of visitation on the Long Sault Parkway and at our beaches,” SLPC stated in response to if they had received any complaints about overcrowding.
SLPC also stated that they have received complaints about increased garbage along the Long Sault Parkway.
“SLPC has posted signage inside each washroom facilities indicating proper hand washing etiquette. We promote a carry in/ carry out garbage process and have garbage barrels throughout each site,” states SLPC. “Our teams work diligently to collect and dispose of garbage and pick up litter to keep our outdoor spaces clean. If staff witness a person or group not maintaining the area they are occupying, staff will ask the customer(s) to cleanup after themselves.”
According to SLPC, they have received no complaints about individuals defecating in the parks.
While there have been no reports of vandalism or violence at SLPC parks since they have been re-opened, the OPP were called to the Long Sault Parkway on at least one occasion to help deal with the increased traffic.
SLPC states that they continue to educate customers on social distancing rules and mandatory mask requirements.