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Coronavirus: St. Catharines reopens beaches to non-residents

After a weekend of multiple bylaw infractions at a number beaches in St. Catharines, the city shut out non-Niagara residents in July of 2020.
After a weekend of multiple bylaw infractions at a number beaches in St. Catharines, the city shut out non-Niagara residents in July of 2020. City Of St. Catharines

St. Catharines will be lifting a ban that prohibited non-Niagara residents from attending the city’s beaches amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday night councillors passed a motion to remove the restriction as visitors travelling to Sunset Beach, Port Dalhousie and Lakeside Park beach have steadily declined.

“The season’s pretty well over. We’re not going to have problems, I don’t think, with overcrowded beaches anymore,” said Grantham Coun. Bill Phillips who brought the motion forward to council.

Read more: Weekend GO train service between Toronto and Niagara resuming after break due to COVID-19

After a spike in coronavirus cases in mid-July, councillors opted to restrict access to some of the waterfront to Niagara residents only.

The city’s restrictions coincided with an increase in fines from $30 to $100 for illegal parking in areas surrounding beaches and Morningstar Mill.

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Click to play video 'St. Catharines beaches off limits to non-Niagara residents' St. Catharines beaches off limits to non-Niagara residents
St. Catharines beaches off limits to non-Niagara residents

Port Dalhousie Counc. Carlos Garcia, who reached out to some businesses in his district, said the ban “affected their business negatively” and hoped that the city would not have to impose another ban going forward.

“Hopefully we don’t have to close the beach again and we can look at other alternatives if needed,” Garcia said.

Meanwhile, Merritton Coun. Lori Littleton suggested that the city look at plans to expand parking or add more bus routes to the city’s beaches to avoid closings in the future.

Read more: More lockdowns possible if Ontario’s coronavirus cases continue to increase, Doug Ford says

“I understand why council voted to close the beaches this year. It was because of the health emergency,” Littleton said.

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“If we don’t have a health emergency next year, I don’t think we should be talking about closing beaches at all.”