The horror stories of the summer of 2020 in Prince Edward County can be worn like badges of courage by local residents.
Stumbling upon piles of human waste or, maybe worse yet, witnessing the act of roadside evacuation. Trapped within the confines of your own driveway. Waking up to find hopeful campers, turned away at every at-capacity campsite like leisure-seeking Mary and Josephs, had chosen to turn your side yard into their own momentary manger of Prince Edward County-heaven.
Whether it was a COVID-19 induced lockdown on regular summertime travel, high doses of exposure by way of national and international periodicals, the best word-of-mouth tourism campaign of all time or a combination of all three, the tourism season in Prince Edward County last summer was outstanding in a number of ways.
Outstanding in that the sheer volume of visitors generated incredible economic activity for a key economic driver this municipality relies upon and other Ontario municipalities covet.
But also outstanding in that the summer of 2020 was much worse for beleaguered locals.
Even for those who understand warm weather brings visitors from all corners of the golden triangle between Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, the crush of an expanded and growing tourist crowd that didn’t even have the ebbs and flows generated by poor weather, the dog days after the Civic holiday or mid-week respites.
If Prince Edward County seemed busier than ever last summer, you are likely right in your assumption and, given the state of the pandemic, international travel restrictions, etc., it’s possible and even likely 2021 will be just as busy. Or even busier.
This is why the County of Prince Edward and Council is to be lauded for its development of a Tourism Management Plan that will likely take effect later this month.
As Mayor Steve Ferguson admits, the Plan is the municipality first attempt at trying to control what has seemingly been uncontrollable for so long and there will be a learning curve along the path of summer 2021 in Prince Edward County. But it’s a good first start at attempting to manage and mitigate the issues that come into the municipality’s purview such as illegal parking, garbage receptacle cleaning, public washroom availability as well as illegal camping.
The TMP 1.0 is collaborative, taking input from industry leaders, community partners and 1,400 survey responses and responds to a number of issues raised during 2020.
But it’s success will depend on regular revisions and, more of that, valuable input from frustrated citizenry to ensure the positive course of evolution continues unbated. Best of all, there are some breaks for local residents which include free usage of the Wellington Rotary Beach and a discounted season’s pass for municipal boat launches.
For many, many years, residents have suggested these types of small incentives so they too could enjoy some of the services and amenities that seemingly draw every sun and sand seeker from near and far. The new and consistently shifting landscape of a COVID-19 reality means there can be no forecasting of what summer 2021 will be like in Prince Edward County.
But at the bare minimum, there will be tools that will ensure locals can get some enjoyment out of this paradise they call home.
PICTURING OUR COMMUNITY