Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
April 22, 2024
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March 27, 2024
Volume 194 No. 13

Different Times

A more collaborative, user-friendly Tourism Management Plan for 2024
<p>Wellington Lighthouse (Photo courtesy of Peggy deWitt)</p>
Wellington Lighthouse (Photo courtesy of Peggy deWitt)

Beach fees are out. Resident parking passes are still on.

What started as a reaction to the over-tourism of 2020 and 2021 has become a plan to make summer more enjoyable for everyone — tourists and residents.

Julianne Snepsts, of Community Services, Programs and Initiatives, unveiled the 2024 Tourism Management Plan (TMP) to the Committee of the Whole earlier this month.

Among the major changes is the cessation of visitor fees at Wellington beach.

The first “Tourist Management Plan” devised in 2021, in response to the increase of visitors in the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, included robust parking regulations and enforcement, and increased management of beaches and boat launches.

But by the summer of 2022, the tourism landscape had started to shift — and the pandemic highs were clearly in the past. The TMP is now more about monitoring tourism trends, ensuring that the municipality plans core services to meet demand, and creating special projects to support success.

“The activities proposed for 2024 reflect this change in focus,” said Ms. Snepsts. “The TMP is a list of investments in community amenities and services to improve the summer experience for three key stakeholder groups: residents, visitors and tourism-related businesses.” 

Mayor Steve Ferguson said he was happy to see the plan transition away from regulations.

“We did what we had to do in response to a crisis. The intention was always to wind it down when the time came.”
Mayor Steve Ferguson

At Capacity

In 2020 and 2021, Wellington Rotary Beach became the Alamo of beach seekers who arrived to find Sandbanks already full. Hundreds of cars, vans and busses passed snarled up Beach Street and the east end of Main Street. Beleaguered village residents and regular beach goers were fed up.

In 2023, on the other hand, the Beach reached capacity only once. While there were busy days, overcrowding was not a daily concern. Average attendance on staffed days fell from 446 people in 2022 to 233 last year. Revenues generated at the beach gates in 2023, $25,000, were about $2,000 more than the cost to staff them.

The Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) will now fund a “Beach Steward” to monitor the beach, clean up garbage and maintain washrooms, and assist beachgoers. The staffer would be at the beach five days a week, with shorter work days aligning with peak use. 

Councillor Corey Engelsdorfer applauded the transition.

“I’m getting calls every other day about people driving their vehicles on the beach front, so it’s more than just garbage. We need somebody there,” he said. “The Wellington Rotary Club are slowly coming back and excited about being involved. The Steward can help get Rotary back and involved and help maintain it a little better too.”

Summer Parking Passes

Residents who purchased a yellow PEC Summer Pass in 2022 or 2023 will still be able park at water-access points — the ends of Bakker Road and Huyck’s Point Road. The yellow passes will be phased out at the end of this year. New passes will have a new design and will be valid until the end of 2026. 

Most of the roadside at these water access points is designated no parking. Parking is prohibited in no-parking zones whether you display a PEC Summer Pass or not.

Other projects in the $120,000 Plan include bench beautification at the Bloomfield Mill Pond park, the creation of a shipping-container depot at Wellington and District Community Centre to support washroom and parks services, and an invasive-species management program along portions of the Millennium Trail.

The County’s boat launch pass program continues unchanged. An auxiliary launch at the Cer-A-Met property will divert would-be boaters from the Wellington harbour launch. A reduced fee boat launch pass for County residents will be available for purchase later this spring. .

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 13 edition of The Picton Gazette
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