Huge Crowds at Sauble

Wiarton Echo - - FRONT PAGE - ROB GOWAN Post­media Net­work

The record-break­ing heat this Canada Day week­end ap­peared to have most peo­ple think­ing the same thing - get to wa­ter.

Sauble Beach saw mas­sive crowds on the week­end that left its ap­prox­i­mately 11 kilo­me­tres of sand packed with beach­go­ers. On Sun­day, July 1, colour­ful um­brel­las and canopies stretched as far as the eye could see, while throngs of vis­i­tors played in the waves as a steady warm wind blew across Lake Huron. Some busi­nesses in the town were run­ning out of some sup­plies, while long lines re­sulted in lengthy waits for those look­ing to get their hands on ice cream or french fries. At times traf­fic into the beach town was backed up for kilo­me­tres.

For Diane Tot­ten of Rich­mond Hill and Karri David­son of Whitby the beach was the per­fect place to be as tem­per­a­tures soared into the mid-30s, feel­ing much warmer with the hu­midex.

“You can’t ask for a bet­ter week­end or a bet­ter day for the beach,” said Tot­ten, whose fam­ily has had a cot­tage in the area for three gen­er­a­tions, but it had been a while since she had been back. “Out here you don’t ac­tu­ally no­tice the heat that much.”

Ac­cord­ing to En­vi­ron­ment Canada, the tem­per­a­ture on Sun­day hit 34.2 C at its Wiarton weather sta­tion, a full two de­grees warmer than the past record of 32.2 C set in 1955.

On Satur­day, June 30, the tem­per­a­ture hit 31.3 C in Wiarton just off the 1964 record of 31.7 C, while it reached 31.2 C on Fri­day, which bested a 2014 record of 30.9 C. The fore­cast was call­ing for the day­time highs to reach at least 30 C through most of the week ahead.

David­son said she wasn’t about to com­plain af­ter a long win­ter and the win­ter storm that hit south­ern On­tario in late April.

“Any­body who com­plains, shame on you,” said David­son. “This is fan­tas­tic, and if you are hot, go in the wa­ter, and I don’t even swim.”

David­son said they drove up in a corvette from Whitby on Fri­day and it was a long, hot drive, but it was all worth the trip. They took a tour of Lake Huron on Bruce Penin­sula Boat Tours out of Oliphant ear­lier on Sun­day and were plan­ning to take in the fire­works in the evening be­fore David­son planned to head home on Mon­day.

It was her first time to Sauble and she was lov­ing it.

“I was in Bar­ba­dos in 2011 and I feel like to­day I could be in Bar­ba­dos. It is ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful,” David­son said. “As busy as it is it just seems so calm and nice. It doesn’t seem crazy.

“It is great to see ev­ery­body hav­ing a good time.” David­son said she will be back. “My hus­band and I would love to come and do Tober­mory and the grotto and stuff like that,” said David­son. “It would be worth the drive from Whitby to come up and ex­pe­ri­ence it again.”

South Bruce Penin­sula Mayor Jan­ice Jack­son said Mon­day she had never seen the beach as busy as it was on the week­end.

“I can’t re­mem­ber see­ing crowds of that size,” said Jack­son. “It was just in­cred­i­ble. It was ab­so­lutely as­ton­ish­ing and the busi­ness com­mu­nity was thrilled.”

Sauble Beach wasn’t the only place where they saw huge crowds, but Jack­son heard it was re­ally busy through­out the re­gion, in­clud­ing other ar­eas of her own mu­nic­i­pal­ity. Red Bay saw record crowds with cars lin­ing both sides of the road lead­ing to the beach.

“It was busy all over the mu­nic­i­pal­ity wher­ever there was wa­ter,” Jack­son said. “All of our lakes were jammed yes­ter­day, but with 40-plus de­grees in Toronto yes­ter­day they were just flock­ing up here and I don’t blame them.”

Jack­son said the town’s in­fra­struc­ture held up fairly well, though there were some is­sues with park­ing as peo­ple were park­ing their ve­hi­cles just about any­where they could find space, in­clud­ing on lawns. The town brought in por­ta­ble wash­rooms as well be­cause of the ex­tra peo­ple and she said town staff did an amaz­ing job to help deal with the crowds.

“There are some is­sues we need to iron out as a mu­nic­i­pal­ity with the record num­bers we are get­ting,” said Jack­son. “We are go­ing to make a few lit­tle changes go­ing for­ward just to han­dle the sheer num­bers.”

Jack­son said she ex­pects it won’t be the last Sauble Beach sees of the crowds this year.

“It was a spec­tac­u­lar Canada Day week­end and it was un­prece­dented here at Sauble,” Jack­son said. “I un­der­stand it is go­ing to be a long, hot sum­mer so we are kind of pre­par­ing for this traf­fic for the rest of the sum­mer.”

In Owen Sound, Kelso Beach was a pop­u­lar spot on Sun­day, as fam­i­lies made their way down to take part in the many ac­tiv­i­ties that were part of the city’s Canada Day fes­tiv­i­ties.

Among the most pop­u­lar at­trac­tions was the Good Cheer Splash Pad, which was packed with chil­dren, and the odd adult, cool­ing off in the spray. The beach area was also busy with fam­i­lies splash­ing around in the wa­ter.

The Owen Sound Po­lice Ser­vice and their aux­il­iary were hand­ing out freezies and bot­tled wa­ter to help keep vis­i­tors cool.

Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Of­fi­cer Const. Craig Ped­dle said that peo­ple seemed to be cop­ing with the heat.

“We are just ask­ing peo­ple in this weather to take fre­quent breaks, try to find a cool­ing sta­tion, whether it is some store that has air con­di­tion­ing or down by the wa­ter to­day where the tem­per­a­ture is re­ally high but the breeze off the wa­ter is re­ally nice,” said Ped­dle. “Of course, if any­one sees any­one in dis­tress they should call 911 im­me­di­ately and we will send the paramedics and we will be on our way as well.”

Ped­dle said emer­gency ser­vices had dealt with some heat-re­lated calls, which hap­pens when­ever there is a heat wave.

“Find some shade, find a cool place or just pop into a store or a gro­cery store and try to take in some cool­ness if you don’t have air con­di­tion­ing at home,” said Ped­dle.

Tobi and Dean Benoit were hang­ing out in the shade at the Kelso Beach camp­ground try­ing to keep cool on Sun­day. They try to camp each Canada Day week­end, but this year the Cam­bridge cou­ple was also vis­it­ing their grand­chil­dren in the Scenic City.

They were cop­ing with the heat the best they could.

“It is very, very hot,” Tobi Benoit said. “We are drink­ing lots of wa­ter and eat­ing freezies.”

While they were lucky enough to have air con­di­tion­ing in their trailer, they were sur­rounded by a cou­ple dozen tents and she wasn’t en­vi­ous of those who were staying in them.

“I re­ally don’t know how they are do­ing it,” said Benoit. “We have camped in a tent be­fore, but not through this kind of heat.”

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