By John Francis
The Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula’s August 24 Meeting will host a delegation from Parks Canada, bringing the municipality up to speed on proposed policies and strategies for the future at Fathom Five National Marine Park. Our two national parks have seen “unprecedented growth in visitation,” the brief begins. After an intensive period of public and stakeholder consultations (winter 2019-20), Parks are proposing some changes to reduce the impact of visitation at Fathom Five National Marine Park and adjacent properties and to improve the quality of visitor experience.
Parks administration proposes significant changes to visitation timetables at Flowerpot Island and to visitor access
to the shipwrecks at the head of Big Tub Harbour. Proposals include reducing the number of tourboats passing over the Big Tub wrecks, reducing the time window available to those tourboats, reducing the overall number of people allowed on Flowerpot at one time and reducing the time window for tourboat pickups and dropoffs at Flowerpot. They propose to create a daily window for small group tours on Flowerpot Island (early morning) and to increase the daily window for divers, swimmers and kayakers at the Big Tub wrecks (early morning and late afternoon). These proposals have been significantly revised in response to public and stakeholder responses.
Lively discussion is expected.
The Parks delegation is supported by 30 pages of documentation which are included in the Council Meeting Agenda. This makes very good reading for anyone interested in Fathom Five. (Navigate through from www.northbrucepeninsula.ca). The documentation states that Parks will be accepting comments and input regarding the proposed plans until Sept 18, 2020.
MNBP Council — Aug 10
MNBP Council’s August 10, 2020 Meeting began with a Zoom/Power Point delegation by Mike Goman of Tobermory Real Estate Investors Inc. (TREII), a group that proposes to bring the former ferry MS Norgoma back to Tobermory. Goman explained that this would accomplish several things: save a historic ferry from being sold for scrap, contribute to the economic development of Tobermory, create additional employment opportunities, add a context-appropriate attraction, create another activity for visitors and support local businesses.
TREII’s primary goal is to use the sun deck of the vessel as a much larger premises for the Coffee Shop business. The rest of the vessel could be used in a variety of ways — businesses or a museum or both. TREII suggest several possible ownership structures: TREII could own it and “operate it as any other similar asset”; alternatively it could be owned by a new joint venture, by a new non-profit organization or by the municipality.
TREII suggested two locations along the south side of Tobermory’s Little Tub Harbour where the Norgoma could be moored. They committed to reaching an agreement whereby the municipality suffers no net loss of revenue from the change.
Goman is hoping to receive proposals from other businesses interested in using part of the space aboard the vessel.
Municipal staff will investigate and report back to Council.
The high water levels have had considerable impact on the shoreline at Lion’s Head Beach Campground. The issues of protecting the shore and reconfiguring the campground were discussed at length. In the end, Council elected to defer the issue until a future meeting.
Under “Other Business”, Councillor Megan Myles “presented the following notice of motion to be brought forward for consideration at the August 24, 2020 Council Meeting, titled “Implementing Paid Parking at McCurdy Drive, Lion’s Head Beach and Black Creek Provincial Park to generate funds for sustainable tourism management”:
“WHEREAS the dramatic increase in tourism brought economic benefits, but also social and environmental costs to the community (i.e. garbage, congestion, unsafe highway conditions, noise);
WHEREAS these issues are negatively impacting local quality of life, visitor safety and experience and overburdening local infrastructure and services beyond what local taxation can sustainably support;
WHEREAS paid parking has successfully generated significant revenue in Tobermory and many other destinations that the municipality can re-invest back into the necessary infrastructure and services;
WHEREAS securing stable tourism funding was one of four main recommendations in 2018 Northern Bruce Peninsula Sustainable Tourism Management Plan;
WHEREAS a user-pay system is the most fair way to generate revenue, and pricing and time slots can manage visitor demand and behaviour (i.e. 3-hour time slots in high demand locations, free or cheaper full-day parking further away);
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council support development of a parking strategy and implementation of paid parking at McCurdy Drive, Lion’s Head Beach Park (Philip Forbes Street and possibly marina), and potentially other popular sites and direct staff to consult with relevant partners and stakeholders (including Bruce Trail and Ontario Parks).
*Note: Similar to Tobermory, all property owners (and possibly boat slip holders) would receive a parking pass.”
This motion will be discussed — probably at length — at Council’s Aug 24th Meeting.
Could the IJC Lower the Water?
The environmental lobby group Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation (www.georgianbaygreatlakesfoundation.com/august-2020-update/) claims that our current high water levels are a direct result of mismanagement by the International Joint Commission, the American/Canadian body that oversees boundary waters. GBGLF claims that the IJC has substantially increased outflow from Lake Superior into Lake Huron/Michigan while refusing to even measure (let alone manage) the outflow through the St Clair River. GBGLF claims this has resulted in water levels eight inches higher than they need to be. They document these allegations with the same data the IJC are using.