No Beach Access signs causing friction

By Casey Lessard

Confusion over the wording of a new No Beach Access sign in Port Franks seems ill-timed to coincide with the start of a new beach season.
‘I’ve had a lot of people come in and ask about the sign,” says Christine Orosz of Christine’s Marina Bar & Grill. “They feel they’re not wanted and there are people here who have lived here forever and don’t realize they’re still allowed to go to the beach.
“If you don’t have a cottage or home here, you’re not supposed to be on the beach. Residents of Grand Bend, for example, are not supposed to use the beach.”
The beach is owned by the Port Franks Beach Homeowners Association and was deeded to the village as part of the transfer agreement from the family that owned it previously. Technically it is private property, but has been used by the public for years.
“We’re going to have a look at the wording,” says Ward 3 councillor Mark Simpson. “The intent was to help the beach homeowners’ association. All the beaches in Port Franks are private; not a lot of people know that.
“We have a lot of issues with parking and issues with people parking on lawns, leaving their garbage, and defecating. The London Free Press and some other tourism magazines are promoting Port Franks as a gem, which it is. We’re trying to quell some of the crowds, but now the business community’s upset because of that. It’s a catch-22. We’re trying to work it out. It’s a work in progress.”
Orosz is still concerned about the ramifications of the sign’s prominence at the main entrance to the village.
“If you were looking for a home to buy in this area, you would see that sign and not want to buy property on or near the water because you would think you don’t have beach access.”
Simpson disagrees.
“The deed clearly states that any resident of Port Franks shall not be denied walk-in access to the beach,” Simpson says. “Technically, (cottagers and visitors to the trailer park) would be allowed. But if someone came from Windsor for the day, technically they would not be allowed.
“They’re not standing there checking people for ID. It’s a private beach, but they allow public access as long as people use it responsibly.”