April 23, 2020
Wasaga Beach – Today, on behalf of residents, business leaders, and visitors to the community, Mayor Nina Bifolchi sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford, expressing concern about inconsistent pandemic-related messaging from the province and its agencies relating to the opening of Wasaga Beach Provincial Park.
“I am writing to advise you of the growing frustration we face in our community due to mixed and inconsistent messaging from the Government of Ontario, in particular two of its agencies that operate in the Town of Wasaga Beach: Ontario Parks and the Ontario Provincial Police,” Mayor Bifolchi told Premier Ford.
The mayor said the province is doing an overall great job with its handling of the pandemic and that the town has tried to echo all of the related communication.
“However, lately we are receiving confusing and conflicting information from the province that is frustrating people in our community,” Mayor Bifolchi said. “People are critical of the inconsistent information, often directing their concerns and anger at the town because we are the local and more accessible level of government. I share their frustration.”
In the letter, the mayor shared examples with Premier Ford, including a flip-flop decision by the OPP. Police agreed to a joint statement with the town and Ontario Parks regarding the pandemic and upcoming Victoria Day weekend. However, days later, police declined to proceed with the messaging.
Ontario Parks has shared conflicting information about whether people can walk on the beachfront when Wasaga Beach Provincial Park reopens. Mayor Bifolchi also cited this example for Premier Ford’s review.
“As you can see, it makes it hard for the community to understand the rules when they are not clear,” Mayor Bifolchi said. “In addition, it is just as challenging for us in terms of messaging.”
The Government of Ontario must do better, the mayor said.
“With a full-time population of more than 20,000 people, plus several thousand additional seasonal residents and visitors over the course of a year, I ask that the province treat our community with the respect and courtesy it so rightly deserves,” Mayor Bifolchi said.
All members of the community deserve to have a clear understanding of the rules, the mayor added.
On behalf of the community, Mayor Bifolchi is asking the government:
- That before the long weekend it clarify, through a news release and social media channels, as well as signage in the park, the rules and regulations as they apply to Wasaga Beach Provincial Park.
- That the province direct its agencies, namely the OPP and Ontario Parks, to take a more collaborative and respectful approach to dealing with the Town of Wasaga Beach and residents.
- That Ontario Parks step up its messaging in general so that residents and visitors clearly understand the park is the responsibility of the province and not the town.