Sunbathers and businesses ecstatic, but Sauble Beach mayor worried about beach reopening
SAUBLE BEACH, ONT. -- By 10 a.m. on Friday, the crowds had already started to descend on Sauble Beach, which has just reopened its lakefront.
Linda McLeod and her son, Jackson, have been in Sauble since Wednesday, hoping the beach would reopen before they had to head home.
"We’ve been quarantining since March. I’ve been working from home and Jackson has been out of school, so it just feels so good to finally be outside, at the beach," says McLeod.
Following a recommendation from the Grey-Bruce Medical Officer of Health to open the beach, Mayor Janice Jackson says South Bruce Peninsula council reluctantly reopened Sauble Beach’s sand, after closing it two weeks ago due to what the mayor called a "flagrant disregard for beach rules."
"I’m still worried. Council is still worried. We get typically 60-80,000 here on a long weekend. We have very little beach here this year due to high-water levels. So they'll be all over the dunes, the beach, they'll find every space they can find and we're still not going to have enough room," says Jackson.
Sauble's beach businesses are overjoyed the beach is open again, but estimate they as a collective lost between $300,000 and $500,000 for every day the beach was closed this summer.
"That really adds up in a hurry when your talking July 1, probably the best day of the summer, so 75 per cent on the best day is a pretty hard loss to swallow," says Crown Inn Owner David Dobson.
"We were very concerned in the last week since the beach was closed about how we could survive. No question it hurt business. But we're here now and we're ready to fight for the rest of the summer," says Ryan Gardhouse, owner of Ascent Aerial Park.
Some Sauble Beach businesses are considering suing council for keeping the beach closed for so long, says local businessman Tom Laforme.
"A number of businesses are certainly interested in it because we, like our voice wasn't heard. At council [Thursday], they wanted to now speak to the businesses on July 2. You know the damage has already been done."
The mayor says if there's overcrowding and bad beach behaviour, council will close Sauble Beach for the Civic Holiday long weekend, because she says most on council didn't want it to be open in the first place.
"When we get the Medical Officer of Health saying he has no concerns and he advises us to open the beach, well council really had to take that advice," Jackson says.