Jaye Robinson Beachfront cottage owner Director of events, City of Toronto department of economic development, culture and tourism. As told to Casey Lessard
The most pressing issue Grand Bend faces is the water quality in Lake Huron. It’s quite extreme. Unless everybody plays a part in cleaning up the lake, it’s not going to be addressed. Residents and tourists have to fight for this at the provincial and federal government levels. If they proceed with the water park, what are the environmental impacts of that? We’re trying to clean up the lake, but if it’s adding to the pollution of that, we’re not moving forward; we’re moving backward. Grand Bend has this natural gift of this spectacular beachfront. Across the nation, most municipal governments are looking at ways to naturalize beaches and return them to their natural condition. Instead of moving on to new initiatives, we need to address the existing structures. Finish the beach house and current facilities. That building should have been designed to minimize the beach space usage and to leave the beach in as natural a state as possible. It really is an eyesore. I’ve seen families leave the beach early because of overly aggressive behaviour. People migrate to the main beach; it attracts too many people, yet they’re going to intensify the problem by putting the water park there. Perhaps that should go somewhere else in Grand Bend to take pressure off the main beach. I think people are most concerned about the main street. The layout and design, signage and lighting are problematic; make it more pedestrian-friendly and therefore safer. In Toronto, we have grant programs to clean up neighbourhoods; everybody wins. We’d end up with a revitalized downtown strip. Simple measures like that can have a big impact.