Colchester Beach closed to public after crowds gather, lack of physical distancing
Beachgoers gather in large crowds at Colchester Beach on June 19, 2020. (Viewer submitted photo)
WINDSOR, ONT -- Essex Town Council is temporarily closing Colchester Beach after a weekend that saw hundreds of people crowd the Lake Erie destination.
“People are itching to get out, they want to enjoy the beach and I frankly don’t blame them,” says Ward 4 Essex Councillor Sherry Bondy. “Unfortunately it’s led council to have some really difficult decisions.”
Bondy is referring to what she called an “out of control” party on the beach Friday night that featured public drinking, littering and multiple fights breaking out at the beach. She says there was also a complete lack of physical distancing from beach goers, leading to several neighbourhood complaints.
“We want our beach to be a hot attraction, but not a hot COVID attraction,” Bondy says.
The OPP was even called in — at a cost of $5,000 to the municipality.
By a 5-2 vote at a special meeting called Monday night, council decided to indefinitely close Colchester Beach until signage can be put up — and staff can get a handle on how to enforce proper physical distancing at the popular spot.
“We just need to take a pause until we can do it more safely,” Bondy says. “The beach does need to be open, but we need to have better policies and procedures in place for our staff, our residents and our community."
Coun. Bondy hopes it’s only a temporary measure for 10 to 14 days, until the town can get a proper handle on how to move forward — and possibly install better bathroom facilities.
Bondy tells CTV Windsor she understands people are restless and want to use the amenity — but the town needed to hit pause until it can be done safely.
“We want our small businesses in our community to get into Stage 2 so we really have to show the leadership here with council and say OK, we want to send those messages that not social distancing, and drinking and all of those other things, littering, is not acceptable at our beach and we have to do a better job,” Bondy says.