Addressing beach problems in Iroquois

Jim Wilson of the Iroquois Waterfront Implementation Committee makes a presentation to South Dundas council April 7, 2015. The committee would like some short-term issues with the beach, such as signage and parking lot drainage, addressed before summer. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

MORRISBURG – Before beach-goers have a chance to splash around at the Iroquois beach, the municipality is hoping to address some issues with its busy summertime venue.

Iroquois Waterfront Implementation Committee spokesman Jim Wilson told council Tuesday night he would like better washroom access, parking and beach enforcement, additional signage, and possibly some drainage issues addressed before summer.

A consultant’s report is expected soon which will address more complex issues, such as moving the current parking lot at the beach off Elizabeth Drive (at the end of Adair Drive). “One of the things we’ve asked for is to change where the parking lot is…to have more grassy area at the beach.” Wilson told council.

“We had expected to be here earlier with our consultant’s report which would lay out the ultimate plan for the waterfront but that hasn’t happened yet. But there are realities of the calendar and Iroquois is a popular beach in the summer,” he said.

Wilson says there is one sign on the canteen referring to the restrictions on pets, alcohol and smoking, but beach-goers don’t necessarily see it before coming to the venue. “The problem is, the way people use the beach, they don’t necessarily go to the canteen before they unload the cooler full of beer, take their dog out of the van and light up.”

Wilson would also like to see about a half-dozen boulders placed at the southeast end of the parking lot to prevent people from driving on the grass.

Then there are problems with the lot itself. “The parking lot is – I don’t know – a million years old…half gravel, half distressed asphalt. When there’s a rainfall we get large puddles there, you have to take a detour to get to the beach,” he said.

Coun. Archie Mellan agrees the washrooms should be open during the summer months, especially on weekends, but was concerned about staffing.

Wilson says the lack of access to the washrooms is the chief complaint from locals, not just from beach users but also from people walking in the area.

Coun. Marc St. Pierre wondered if a local person could open and close them while municipal staff would be responsible for upkeep. “What we want is access… we don’t want to create a job of washroom guardian,” Wilson added.

Wilson also talked about the “checkered history” of the canteen and securing a vendor and wondered whether the municipality could have licenced food trucks in the north portion of the lot. Wilson suggested, tongue-in-cheek, there’s a “curse” on the canteen that had been built with the best of intentions.

Some councillors and staff are planning to visit the beach in the coming weeks to get a first hand look at the problems.

Treasurer Shannon Geraghty says there is $35,000 in a reserve funding that could possibly be used while $29,000 was budgeted for the Iroquois waterfront plan. There is $9,000 already used to pay off the balance of the consultant’s report, leaving $20,000 for the Iroquois waterfront committee to address some sort term problems.

Morrisburg and Iroquois waterfront plans on “different avenues”

While the consultant’s report for the Iroquois waterfront hasn’t been in front of council, Mayor Evonne Delegarde suggests Iroquois isn’t jumping the cue on development.

Morrisburg already had its plan before council last year and had submissions during budget time.

“They (Morrisburg) brought their plan to council last year. So they are able to start moving forward and asking on specifics. The waterfront plan for Iroquois had not come forward yet so, until we see that, we can’t start planning anything from that plan until we accepted that plan,” the mayor said.

“The only thing now is there some quick fix things that they need done and that’s still part of the overall (Iroquois) plan. Especially the beach, they are trying to concentrate on the beach because that is the biggest usage of that whole waterfront. The waterfront in Iroquois is completely different than the waterfront in Morrisburg as to what the needs are,” Delegarde added.

Coun. Marc St. Pierre is on the Morrisburg waterfront committee. “What they’re presenting (Iroquois) are just tweaks at this time. If Morrisburg came to the table and said we need the signage upgraded…the drainage…we need to address that no matter if it’s Iroquois or Morrisburg.”

“I don’t think they’re jumping the gun, they’re just saying we have some short term issues we need resolved sooner than later. Moving boulders for access, that’s easy stuff. Moving the parking lot needs to be addressed in the bigger scheme when the concept plans are complete.”

St. Pierre believes both waterfront committees are moving through the proper channels.

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