Chatham-Kent council has unanimously approved a buoy system for Erieau Beach to keep swimmers and boats apart and safe.
The vote was 15-0.
The municipality is now looking for input from the general public, regulatory bodies, and prospective vendors to finalize the buoy system at the beach.
The costs will be referred to the multi-year budget.
Original story was published on Saturday, May 27, 2023.
Water and beach safety in Erieau will be front and centre at Chatham-Kent council Monday night.
Councillors will be debating the use of demarcation buoys to keep swimmers and watercraft separated or going with a designated swimming area and roping-off a space in the water for recreational swimming.
A staff report suggests a non-restrictive demarcation buoy system is the preferred safety solution due to savings on maintenance, conformance with federal regulations, and decreased risk of vandalism due to the lack of rope and shoreline anchor points. The buoys are marked “Swim Only” and have no connecting ropes between them.
The buoys can be installed where the water is approximately 1.5 metres in depth or about 10-30 metres from shore and would be installed beginning at the western public beach boundary and extend approximately 500 metres east towards the pier.
A buoy only design does not require pre-approval by Transport Canada since there is no rope or barrier physically preventing watercraft from entering navigable water.
Administration said a designated swimming area is an alternative option.
Watercraft would not be permitted inside this area and anchored marker buoys would be connected to swim floats to create an enclosed area up to the shoreline. The enclosed space would be approximately 450-metres in perimeter on the western portion of the beach with a shoreline anchor point on either end.
This option is more expensive and would require approval by Transport Canada along with public consultation before an application is submitted.
If approved, this option provides greater enforcement options should watercraft ignore the restrictions.
Also on the agenda Monday night is a motion by Councillor Ryan Doyle asking council to authorize negotiations for a lease and profit-sharing agreement with Aqua City for the proposed inflatable water park at Erieau Beach.
The water park wants to use some land for a kiosk tent and storage container, non-exclusive parking rights, and profit sharing, subject to terms of the lease and profit sharing agreement being satisfactory to the municipality. Doyle is asking administration determine a preferable location for Aqua City based on other uses of the beach area and work with Aqua City on a location for the portable tent.
Aqua City is still waiting for provincial and/or federal approvals to place their water park in the water.
Administration is also being directed to review the potential for extra parking in the area of the Erieau beach and set up an account for profit sharing funds received from this project to be used for projects near the beach in Erieau.