Champlain Township council seems to be settled on hiring a lifeguard for the L’Orignal Beach for the 2021 season. But there will be no gate fees for non-residents or for access to the boat launch.

Councillors discussed different scenarios for the beach in 2021, following on what was called an “out-of-control” situation at the beach during last summer, when there was a lack of physical distancing, and barbecues and cigarette-smoking on the beach.

In reaction to the beach overload, Champlain Township restricted beach access to residents only and patrolled the beach regularly.

After it banned non-residents from the beach and reduced the open-hours, the visitor count at the beach was greatly reduced, but council had said at the time that it would re-visit its policies before the summer of 2021.

Councillors André Roy (L’Orignal ward), Michel Lalonde (Longueuil ward) and Violaine Titley (Longueuil ward) voted against the resolution to hire a lifeguard. Roy mentioned hiring a student to work at the gate and said that no one had requested the hiring of a lifeguard.

Champlain Township Recreation Director Lisa Burroughs said that one student would not be enough to staff the beach area for seven days per week and that it would take two students to do the job. Monitoring the beach itself and working at the gate was a lot for a student to manage, she added.

A lifeguard would be a presence on the beach, Burroughs said.

Vankleek Hill ward councillor Peter Barton felt that the biggest risk (at the beach) was the water itself, opting for the hiring of a lifeguard. West Hawkesbury councillor Sarah Bigelow agreed.

“If there is someone at the gate, they are not leaving the gate, but with a lifeguard, at least there is someone on the beach . . . someone is in charge. It’s a safety issue as well as a liability issue. I support the hiring of a lifeguard,” Bigelow said.

Burroughs estimated the cost of having a lifeguard on duty from noon to 6 p.m. daily from June 27 to August 30 to be $9,828 ($18 per hour at 42 hours for 13 weeks). This would have created a loss of $9,828, according to her report.

Charging a user fee for beach and boat launch access for seven days per week from June 27 to August 30 was estimated at generating $8,885 in revenue ($8.85 x 1,000 visitors), with expenses for one student being $12,000 ($14 per hour for 56 hours times 13 weeks). This scenario would have created a potential loss of $6,690, according to her report.

Charging a user fee to non-residents only for beach and boat launch access seven days per week from June 27 to August 30 would have generated an estimated revenue of $5,310 (600 non-residents at $8.85), with the salary costs for one student (same as above), resulting in a projected loss of $6,690.

The option of having a security guard monitoring the beach from noon to 6 p.m. daily from June 27 to August 30, would have cost $9,828 ($18 per hour times 42 hours for 13 weeks) resulting in a projected loss of $9,828.

Burroughs pointed out that grants might be available to cover some of the costs.

An additional option that is being considered is the additional revenues of renting space to a food truck for three months at a monthly rental fee of $350. The township has to revise its chip stand by-law to permit a food truck in the park, Burroughs noted. But, she added, a food truck might be favorable in that it would bring more traffic to the beach.

No resolutions take place at committee-of-the-whole meetings. As issues and items are reviewed, recommendations are made and those will be presented at the municipality’s regular council meeting on November 12.

Electronic sign moving to arena

It was proposed that the township’s electronic sign on the west side of the Bruce Barton Fire Station will be removed and installed at the Vankleek Hill Community Centre. As part of a report, Burroughs recommended that the township explore other opportunities to raise funds for the recreation department, including the introduction of a small-scale marketing plan. She noted that her research showed that other arenas were being creative in generating revenues.

In her report, she notes that “all, or a portion of not less than 50 per cent, of advertising revenue in a recreation facility should be collected by the facility. If it is being collected by a third party, it should be stated as lost revenue.”

Her report mentions that the Junior C Cougars collect about $34,600 annually with sold advertisements on the rink boards and behind the players’ benches and the Vankleek Hill Skating Club collects about $2,000 per year thanks to advertisements in the lobby.

“The Township should continue to support these groups; however, it demonstrates the potential for additional revenues and that it does not take much space to do so,” the report states.

Vankleek Hill Councillor Troy Carkner pointed out that he did not want to see community groups affected. “I am sure a good chunk of the that money comes back to the township. It’s tough for groups right now. I  don’t think we should be turning our backs on them.”

Burroughs said that there was the possibility of generating funds by selling other space in the arena and bringing in revenue from outside the region, adding that it is often the same businesses which are asked for sponsorships or donations.

Insurance to be mandatory for facility rentals

Champlain Township plans to make liability insurance mandatory for all those renting municipal facilities. Int he past, event organizers could purchase facility user group insurance, obtain their own insurance policy from an insurance broker, or event organizers could waive the option to obtain insurance but would agree to assume all liability in the event an incident occurs.

All event organizers will have to provide proof of insurance. Organizations without insurance puts the municipality at risk, according to its insurer, even if a waiver was signed by the organizer.

Fines introduced for infractions related to parks

Champlain Township is also planning to enact a Parks By-law to protect, prohibit, regulate and control its public parks.

A list of infractions and a schedule of fines was included with the proposed by-law 2020-65.

There is a list of 48 infractions attached to the by-law, which Burroughs says will help provide tools to the municipality. No fines for infractions in parks are in existence at the moment.

The infractions include items such as being in a park or recreation area outside of opening hours, throwing stones, consuming from or using glass containers, failing to dispose of garbage in a receptacle, destroying flowers, trees or shrubs, building a fire, use of a barbecue, creating a nuisance, holding a picnic, organized gathering or event for less than 25 persons without authorization and likewise, holding a picnic, organized gathering or event for more than 25 persons without authorization, allowing an animal on the beach (L’Orignal Beach), distributing or displaying handbills, bring any animal into any park, including a horse or pony (except a domesticated animal), to name a few of the listed infractions. The fine for each of the offenses listed above is $75, but may include a small additional fee.