You can forget about planning a road trip to the shores of one Southern Ontario city. After a week of crowded beaches and rowdy behaviour, a St. Catharines beach ban is prohibiting non-local residents from accessing the lakefront. The decision was announced July 28 after what the city called "another weekend of problematic behaviour."
The restrictions will be temporary and are in response to COVID-19 protocols being ignored by both residents and visitors alike, the city says.
The city cites littering, illegal drinking, increased crime, and over-capacity beaches for its decision to only allow Niagara locals. They’ve also had “rampant parking issues.”
Adults will now be required to show proof of Niagara residence to newly implemented security if they want to visit the beach.
That includes any government-issued ID, your vehicle registration, student ID, or a piece of mail with your name and address on it.
The St. Catharines Standard reported a motion to limit access to all city beaches to only Niagara residents had been approved earlier this month but was never implemented.
But after reviewing it again on Monday, July 27, council voted to enforce the ban immediately, starting July 28.
.@St_Catharines Council Recap: #StCath #beaches restricted to Niagara residents only. As we see numbers⬆️in Niagara… https://t.co/CbO8uuxsGe— Walter Sendzik (@Walter Sendzik)1595967776.0
The decision follows the introduction of increased parking fines for out-of-city visitors parking in the surrounding beach parking lots, from $30 to $100.
The city said it has also implemented the “installation of fencing to limit beach access points, increased parking enforcement, enhanced signage, strict enforcement of capacity limits and the deployment of on-site security,” as part of its enhanced COVID-19 measures.
“The virus is still rampant right now and we’re seeing more cases in Niagara,” St. Catharines Coun. Kevin Townsend told The Standard. "We were all in favour of making sure that people’s safety was top of mind.”
❗#Ontario Beach update 🏖️St. Catharines in #Niagara, ON is closing its beaches to non-niagara resident visitors due… https://t.co/cbnQ7h5otJ— Swim Guide (@Swim Guide)1594843412.0
St. Catharines isn’t the first to put a visitor ban in action. The town of Fort Erie did the same thing in early July with its popular Bay Beach.
Large crowds, illegal fires, and unauthorized drinking has been a problem for Ontario cities and municipalities across the province.