On Wednesday, people were still showing up at Sandy Beach in Hudson in search of place to cool down.
“We came here because we thought it might be more quiet,” said out- of-towners, Charles Lessard and Emilie Corbeil. “We’re trying to avoid as many people as we can.”
While the hiking trails are still open, the beach was closed at the end of May in the hopes of avoiding having large crowds flocking to the popular tourist attraction amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Those caught flouting the rules can receive a $50 fine, but enforcing the bylaw is a different matter.
“It’s hard to ticket people when they don’t have i.d. with them,” said city councillor Jim Duff, saying people often use that as an excuse claiming they’ve left there papers in their vehicle.
As a result, city council passed a new bylaw on Tuesday evening prohibiting parking on both sides of Beach Road to make the beach even more difficult to access.
“We closed the beach already but people were not social distancing and we still had a problem,” Duff said, justifying the new measure. “We couldn’t control access to the beach any other way.”
Local resident Frank Hicks welcomes the additional deterrent.
“The beach was closed not in order to hurt people, the beach was closed to help people and they just can’t seem to get this through their head and they ignore the law,” he said.
No parking signs have already been installed and though some people have chosen to ignore them Hicks said he’s noticed a difference.
“It’s worked a bit because there are fewer people here today,” he said.
While the weather was cooler on Wednesday than in previous days, June 24 is a statutory holiday so large crowds wouldn’t be unusual.
Lessard and Corbeil were surprised by the measures but chose not to stay at the beach, saying they understood.
“I think it might prevent a second wave of covid,” Lessard said.
Most residents Global News spoke to are happy efforts are being made to limit crowding at the beach and recognize it’s a way to keep the virus from spreading in the community.
But some, like Hicks, hope the measures are temporary.
“After this COVID-19 is over, and as long as people treat our beach respectfully, clean up after themselves and don’t leave a mess, they are welcome,” he said.
Duff for his part said city council could decide to restrict parking on Beach Road a permanent thing because while the virus was the main impetus for the new bylaw lack of control of its waterfront due to overcrowding is a growing concern.
“It will take us about a year to figure out the next step,” he said. “We want to take the time for sober reflection and consultation with the people of Hudson.”
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