Lakeshore closes West Beach, citing physical distancing concerns

Lakeshore councillors used a Monday special meeting to approve a motion closing Belle River's West Beach immediately.

According to a media release issued on Tuesday, the West Beach has seen a "dramatic increase" in visitors not following physical distancing rules, prompting council to vote for the beach's closure.

"The West Beach is a popular destination on Lake St. Clair," said Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain, in the same media release. "We recognize that many of our residents and families enjoy visiting the beach, but, unfortunately, the large number of people creates significant concerns."

In addition to closing the beach to visitors, Lakeshore is also asking boaters from the lakeside to stop bringing their vessels to the West Beach. 

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) won't be conducting E.Coli testing during the 2020 season, which Lakeshore cited as another safety concern. 

Lakeshore's Emergency Control Group will be monitoring the situation. 

"Prior to reopening, Lakeshore will review procedures to ensure West Beach remains a family-friendly destination for residents and visitors," reads an excerpt from the same media release. 

Other Windsor-Essex beaches closed 

Lakeshore's West Beach isn't the only Windsor-Essex beach closed due to concerns over COVID-19. 

The Town of Essex voted on June 22 to close Colchester Beach over concerns that large crowds gathering in the area made it difficult to follow physical distancing guidelines.

Cedar Beach in Kingsville is also closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, according to the town's website.

Windsor's Sandpoint Beach will remain closed until proper water quality testing can be conducted, and supervisors can be hired to monitor the beach. The beach usually doesn't open until the end of June, according to Ray Mansour, executive director of recreation and culture with the City of Windsor.

According to a Tuesday media release, Windsor city council has approved resources to hire a private contractor to undertake water quality testing. 

Sandpoint Beach is expected to open "on or before Aug. 4, 2020," according to the city. 

A spokesperson for the Essex Region Conservation Authority also confirmed via email that Holiday Beach and Hillman Beach are closed due to erosion.

"The beach areas are under water due to high water levels and unsafe swimming conditions," said Danielle Stuebing.