Driftwood Cove Offers A Rare Opportunity To Influence The Peninsula’s Future

A typical summer day at Dunks Bay Beach. We need more shoreline access. (File photo)

The Driftwood Cove property deal closed. Thousands of acres of trackless wilderness and miles of pristine shoreline and cliffs are now part of the National Park — property of the people of Canada.

Park staff will now undergo an intensive visioning/planning exercise to decide what to do with this property. Local sentiment is one of the things they will consider in this process.

This offers the people of Northern Bruce Peninsula a rare opportunity to have significant influence on a planning process. We should use this influence wisely, loudly and soon.

Do we want it to be Disneyland of the North, with shoreline ferris wheels? Do we want it to be posted “Wildlife Sanctuary — Do Not Enter”? Or somewhere in between?

If the people of MNBP demand a gaggle of different and mutually contradictory things, Parks will find “no public consensus” and do whatever they feel like. But if we can find common cause amongst ourselves, we’ll be hard to ignore.

I would like to point a few things out. It’s not that these are the only considerations — I just want to jumpstart the discussion.

There have been a lot of complaints of overcrowding during the tourist season. But overcrowding of what? May I offer some suggestions? Tobermory Harbour, Big Tub Lightstation, Little Dunks Bay lookout and the Burnt Point Loop, Mermaid’s Cove, Dunks Bay Beach, Little Cove, The Grotto, Dorcas Bay Beach, Halfway Log Dump, Sandy Beach, Lion’s Head Beach. What do these locations have in common? Access to shoreline.

What do we need more of? Access to shoreline would be my guess, but let’s have a discussion.

I would inject another thought into that discussion: if you can park at an attraction, then the attraction’s capacity is fixed. If you have to walk to get there, then the capacity expands to include those on the trails.

Say Driftwood Cove Beach has a capacity of a thousand people. Say people stay there for an average of two hours. Say it takes an hour to walk there from the parking lot and an hour to walk back. So at any given point, you’ve got a thousand people on the beach plus five hundred people walking in and five hundred people walking out. That’s two thousand people engaged in an attraction with a capacity of a thousand. The extra thousand people are not in a line and complaining — they’re on a trail, getting to and from the attraction. They’re engaged and cheerful.

And we could sure use something to engage a couple of thousand people.

I would like to ask/demand a series of meetings of interest groups — MNBP, Tobermory Chamber of Commerce, SEPO, BPEG, the Biosphere, BPTA, the Sustainable Tourism advocates. Get together and hash this out. Speak with one voice.

You’ll never get this chance again.