Beach in Port Dover still closed as Norfolk politicians, owners continue talks

No trespassing signs remain up as of the start of June at the beach in Port Dover, Ont. Most of that sand is largely privately owned, and municipal politicians continue discussions with owners for a public access initiative. AP Photo/Ana Brigida

With lots of sunshine expected this weekend, beachgoers headed to Port Dover will still only have a small area of sand in the town they can actually use.

No trespassing signs are still up along sections of the larger beach with privately-owned sections off limits to the public while Norfolk County politicians and landowners hammer out a deal to resume public access.

Much of Port Dover beach is owned by private landowners, with only a small part actually owned by the county from the end of Walker Street to the water.

Local local restaurateur Peter Knechtel, whose company F.W. Knechtel Foods Ltd. owns a section of the beach in question, told Global News large crowds in recent years have left garbage and created liability concerns that he says he doesn’t have the resources to mitigate.

On top of that, many beaches in southern Ontario aren’t free anymore, reducing their crowds via user fees, implementing paid parking and requiring reservations.

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“The other parks and the other beaches have put a lot of restrictions in their locations, which we don’t have in ours,” said Knechtel who also owns the nearby Callahan’s Beach House.

“So we’re working with the county so that we can we can come up with a plan so that we can open the beach.”

Friday is considered an unofficial beach day in Norfolk, on which teens have been known to ditch school and descend on Port Dover, Turkey Point and Long Point.

Knechtel says while they usually don’t see many students at the Port Dover beach, he’s been in contact with the OPP and was told they’ll be patrolling all three beaches.

In mid-May, Norfolk councillors directed staff to start negotiating with the private owners on a solution acknowledging the beach plots are an “important part of our tourism strategy.”

Norfolk County mayor Amy Martin says staff are continuing that dialogue and are expected to update council on their progress during a special council meeting next week.

“We remain optimistic and confident that all issues will be resolved soon,” Martin said in an email.


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