If Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek needed help envisioning what a kilometres-long lineups and legions of frustrated visitors along County Roads near Sandbanks Provincial Park look like, he was able to see the scenery first hand on Wednesday.
Yurek and Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith paid a visit to the Park and adjacent roadways and were joined by County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson, Councillor Jamie Forrester and local businessmen Dean Foster of Fosterholm Farms and Peter Morch who also operates a business near the Park’s main entrance.
According to a social media posting by Ferguson, the meeting was productive.
“A productive meeting this morning with The Honourable Jeff Yurek, Minister of The Environment Conservation and Parks to discuss Sandbanks Provincial Park and local concerns including long lineups at the entrance (also an environmental concern), early closures, stress on municipal infrastructure and services, and the overflow of park visitors to other areas of the municipality,” Ferguson wrote. “Our MPP, The Honourable Todd Smith, and Athol Councillor Jamie Forrester also in attendance along with local business owners Dean Foster and Peter Morch.”
Traffic congestion and early park capacity even on nice week days has lead to frustrated visitors and fed up local residents.
Ferguson said a key point stressed Wednesday morning is that, by its nature and owing to its location within a two-hour drive to about 8 million people, “Sandbanks must be managed differently than other parks in the Provincial Park system.”
This meeting is expected to be followed by a virtual meeting with Yurek next week during the Association of Muncipalities of Ontario conference during which additional information will be provided and other matters discussed including a gate levy to benefit the municipality.
“I very much appreciate the ministers’ attention to this matter,” Ferguson added.