Premier Ford and Barrie mayor at odds over price-gouging accusations
BARRIE, ONT. -- Premier Doug Ford is standing by his accusations of price-gouging by Barrie and Orillia at city beaches.
Earlier this month, both communities raised daily parking rates for non-residents to $50 per day to try and thin beach crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"People can barely put food on their tables. They can barely pay their rent, barely pay their mortgage. People are hanging on by their fingertips, and some municipal government wants to gouge you? It's disgusting, in my opinion," Ford said Friday.
Despite fresh weekend concerns over packed stretches of sand, residential streets choked with out-of-town cars, and complaints about garbage and people defecating in waterfront parks, Ford remains firm.
"The premier's opinion has not changed," his office told CTV News. "There are other ways to address this problem that doesn't include charging everyday Ontarians outrageous parking fees during this already difficult time. "
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman continues to defend the higher parking prices.
"Respectfully, some of the other things that have been suggested have been tried in Barrie over the last six weeks," Lehman said.
The mayor pointed to a limit on the number of parking spots along the waterfront and a ban on tents and barbecues on the beach.
Lehman believes the city's actions are starting to make a difference. "We did actually see a reduction in some of our beaches over the weekend with the traffic."
Barrie's mayor said there is something Queen's Park could do to help.
"The province could, I believe, through its regional reopening strategy, share a message that this isn't the time for a day trip to Simcoe County beaches. We would appreciate the assistance of the province in that."
While there have been no formal discussions about Ford coming to Barrie to see the city's beaches firsthand, Lehman said the offer first extended Friday still stands.