Stakeholder and public interest in beach management at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park is high and can be polarized. The development of beach management direction generated comments that ranged from complete agreement to complete disagreement with Ontario Parks’ proposed approach.
All comments were considered in the development of the final plan. Comments resulted in more explicit wording in the goal statement of the importance of providing public beach access and protecting ecological integrity; correcting errors; clarifying actions; clarifying how tourism is considered and incorporated into park planning; and improving beach management actions (highlights below).
Highlights of significant changes as a result of consultation/new information:
• Enabling raking for Piping Plover habitat improvements if consistent with the recommendations for the protection or recovery of the species.
o This change is based on discussions with the Piping Plover Recovery Team and comments received relating to the amount of vegetation within Piping Plover habitat. In the past, raking was determined to be detrimental to Piping Plover habitat at Wasaga Beach; however, the Piping Plover Recovery Team is now considering the possibility of a light raking after the birds have migrated in order to reduce the amount and/or stop the spread of vegetation, including invasive species, on the beach in Piping Plover habitat while maintaining essential cover that is important for the chicks. This change is significant as raking has not occurred in Wasaga Beach Provincial Park since 2007 (Beach Area 1) and 2012 (Allenwood/New Wasaga). The final plan states that raking may occur in Piping Plover habitat under specific circumstances for habitat improvement. Raking for aesthetic or recreational purposes in Piping Plover habitat will not occur.
• Expanding options for sand management (i.e., returning sand that has blown inland to the beach).
o Keeping sand within the beach and dune system is important at Wasaga Beach in that there is no new sand entering the system. The proposed plan prohibited sand that had blown inland from being returned to the beach given the potential for contamination with road salt, vehicle fluids or other debris. Many comments were received requesting that this prohibition be re-examined in order to minimize sand loss, particularly in light of the fact that Wasaga Beach is a relict beach. The final plan enables sand to be put back on the beach adjacent to where it blew inland, or used for dune restoration, if environmental, public health, and operational considerations can be satisfied. Relocating sand from one area of the beach to another is not permitted.
• Committing to update the park’s approach to detritus disposal to minimize negative impacts.
o Detritus is a naturally occurring organic material deposited along the shoreline; it is managed for aesthetic purposes in support of recreation. In the past, detritus was collected from the shoreline and trucked offsite outside of the park or piled at the edge of the foredunes. Many comments were received in support of maintaining or increasing detritus collection for aesthetic and recreational purposes; however the park’s current disposal method of piling it along the foredunes was highlighted as a concern. The final plan states that Ontario Parks will continue to collect detritus (the approach varies based on season and location along the shoreline), and update its approach to detritus disposal to minimize negative impacts to park values.