When is a beach not a beach? Barrie considers de-listing Wilkins Beach
BARRIE, ONT. -- Staff at Barrie City Hall believe a name change could cure what ails Wilkins Beach.
On Monday, councillors will consider de-listing Wilkins as a beach and refer to it as a park instead. The move is designed to keep the beach from being widely advertised. It would include wiping Wilkins Beach from the city map, web site and social media channels and working with agencies like Tourism Barrie to do the same.
Last summer, people from near and far, desperate for a break from COVID-19 lockdowns rushed to Wilkins and many other small beaches across Simcoe County.
The mayor raised questions about a Tourism Barrie spotlight on Wilkins Beach, offering directions and trumpeting the area's "pretty water and forest views."
The volume of visitors overwhelmed Wilkins' tiny patch of sand and the surrounding area.
There were complaints about overcrowding, garbage, and parking. Wilkins Beach also suffered environmental damage.
The potential for a repeat is a concern for people who live nearby.
"I don't think the pandemic is over, and people are going to flock to this area for sure," Katherine White said Sunday.
Local councillor Mike McCann wants to understand what happened in 2020 so that it doesn't happen again.
"The beach can only handle so many patrons, and we were just getting over flooding with double or triple the capacity that the beach can take," McCann said.
City staff has offered permanently barring access to the waterfront at Wilkins as an alternative step. They have recommended a temporary closure in 2021 to complete environmental repairs at the beach.