CENTRAL MANITOULIN – The creation of a new public beach takes a fair bit of work at any time, but creating new public facilities in the time of COVID, especially when that process impacts the operations of a long-time business in the community, presents many challenges.
Central Manitoulin council wrestled with those challenges during its last council meeting, working toward a phased-in balance that would allow the business owners operating on the adjacent property to adjust to the new reality.
The original motion was for council to approve staff’s plan for a public beach area on Hill Road near Idyll Glen campground and that it be scaled back to five parking spots (from the previous planned 12) and labelled ‘public beach parking’ with ‘no overnight parking,’ was moved by Councillor Dale Scott and seconded by Councillor Rose Diebolt.
Considerable time was spent debating and clarifying the referenced staff plan.
Among concerns expressed were the number and placement of garbage bins by the owner of Idyll Glen on municipal property, as well as concerns about the Bactoclean chemical spray used to control odours from the bins. Also discussed was a proposal to fence off the bins to help prevent access by children.
Councillor Diebolt likened the chemicals being used to “oven cleaner” and suggested that reading the warning labels on many household products would give consumers pause. Councillor Dale Scott declared he would never let his grandchildren near oven cleaner.
The location of the bins, set 70 feet from the property line, was also a concern, highlighted by Councillor Derek Stephens.
The often strained relations between councillors and the property owners was referenced by Councillor Angela Johnston, who nonetheless declared herself to be speaking as devil’s advocate and tried to put herself in the place of the owners of a business that has been operating for many years facing a bylaw that seems to be only targeting their business. She suggested that a staged approach be taken to implementing the town staff plans in order to give the owners time to adjust to the new regime.
Councillor Dale Scott said he agreed with Councillor Johnston and noted that the town’s agreement with the owners might need to be “tweaked.”
Councillor Derek Stephens noted the garbage bins are on municipal property and the town should not have to be concerned about wanting to choose where the bins would be located.
Mayor Richard Stephens acknowledged the long standing relationship between the town and the business and echoed frustration that small issues have been difficult to iron out.
In the end, the motion passed, with direction to council that there would be five parking spaces, four garbage bins allowed placed 70 feet from the property boundary and the option of fencing of the bins on three sides. Much of the details were to be left to staff to “finish off.”
In a recorded vote, Councillors Al Tribinevicius, Diebolt, Scott, Shaffer, Stephens and Mayor Stephens voted in favour of the motion, with Councillor Johnston remaining opposed.