Chestermere to charge non-residents to use the beach

Click to play video: 'Chestermere to charge beach use fees for non-residents' Chestermere to charge beach use fees for non-residents
Chestermere city council voted Tuesday evening to start charging a user fee for visitors until the end of 2020. Michael King reports – Jul 29, 2020

Visiting one of Calgary’s closest beaches will cost you if you’re not a resident of Chestermere.

On Tuesday, Chestermere city council voted 7-1 to adopt a user-fee model to help cover the costs of running the beach and on-site facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Marshall Chalmers said the user fee is to pay for fencing and security that helps keep the beach under its maximum capacity of 615 people.

Read more: Chestermere, Alta., sets beach limits following overcrowding amid COVID-19

“As Chestermere, residents already pay for the maintenance of the beaches, adding an admission fee for those who do not live in our community will help to offset the costs of keeping visitors safe during this global pandemic,” the mayor said.

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The fees will be waived for anyone who lives in Chestermere, as long as they can prove their residency with a piece of ID or mail.

For everyone else, they’ll have to pay the following amounts:

  • Regular fee (15 years or older): $15
  • Youth fee (three to 14 years old): $5
  • Family (includes two adults, three youths and unlimited infants): $40
  • Infants under two are free

The bylaw allows the city to waive the fees if there is bad weather or if the beach isn’t at capacity, but how that will be communicated isn’t clear.

Chalmers said the bylaw will also expire at the end of 2020 but it could be extended or amended.

“At the end of this year, we will review its effectiveness and need for the future,” the mayor said. “That way, we can ensure we are still following the best ways to keep our residents and visitors safe, even as they enjoy our city.”

Read more: Alberta lake communities clamp down on beach crowds amid COVID-19

During Tuesday’s council meeting, Chalmers said several people living close to the beach want to see permanent measures in place to control crowds.

“My office has been receiving numerous [calls]… about speeding vehicles and parking,” the mayor said. “What we see is beautiful beaches… [have] really created some ongoing issues and we need to find ways to address those for the residents.”
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Calgarians react

Mark Mandel and his family waited in line to get on the beach on Tuesday for half an hour and said the fees would deter him from visiting again this summer.

“I think that it’s too high,” he said. “If you’re going to charge something, charge something more reasonable like maybe $20 or $25 a family instead of $40.”

Calgarian Richard Arsenault said he’ll also be changing his plans.

“I kind of get the idea of recovering some of your costs and maybe turn some people away so it makes it a bit easier to manage,” he said. “But you know, $40 seems like a lot when there’s a lot of things you could do for that money.”

Resident agrees with fees

Veronica Boudreau lives near the Chestermere beach and said several of her neighbours agree with the new fee for non-residents to cover the extra costs.

“We pay high taxes in Chestermere as it is, and I guess I looked at it as this is going to be adding to our tax bill with the fees to keep all this in place.”

She added that the fee seems expensive but that it should have the desired effect.

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“If I was [a] family coming from Calgary, I would probably not come, which is a good thing for the rest of us,” Boudreau said. “Living here in Chestermere, we don’t go to the beach because it’s going to be too crowded.”

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