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Sep. 21, 2019 | Saturday
Editorials and Opinions
Editorial: The signs of the times
File photo.

On five occasions, totalling 13 days, Queen’s Royal Beach in Old Town has been closed this summer because it failed water quality tests.

The latest closing was last Friday, Aug. 9, immediately ahead of the Peach Festival weekend. The beach remained posted, or closed, until Tuesday, Aug. 13, according the Region of Niagara.

So, if you were down at the beach near the iconic gazebo, you would have known that it was considered unsafe to swim in the water. Or would you?

The region does the testing but says it is the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s responsibility to erect signs (hence the term “posting”) whenever the popular body of water is declared unsafe for swimming.

On Monday, a reporter from The Lake Report knew that the beach was posted as unsafe and went looking for the signs informing residents and visitors about the water problems. We knew the water was unsafe but could not find any signs indicating its condition. We looked high and low. Nothing. 

When we consulted the town, we were assured that employees had properly changed the sign on the beach to help people make an informed decision about whether to dip a toe in the water.

Alas, there IS a sign there: well off the beach, to one side, in the shade, under several trees. On the side of a trash receptacle.

We’re not sure why the “Beach unsafe” sign is not front and centre (last winter, portable signs warning about ice dangers close to shore were prominently displayed at various locations). But we do know that a single, surreptitiously placed sign, seemingly tucked away, could not possibly be an example of best practices in communicating with the public.

We are sure it is just an oversight, but it is one that needs to be remedied immediately. When a beach is closed because the water is unsafe, that information needs to be readily available to everyone.

Next: Why doesn’t the Region of Niagara issue email alerts or allow residents to sign up and automatically track when their favourite beach is safe for swimming? #technology.

editor@niagaranow.com

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