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Sunday, December 4, 2022
Letter: Frustration with overtourism is growing

Dear editor:

In the May 21, 2020, issue of your newspaper I penned a letter, “NOTL needs to act fast to curb 'overtourism'.” The letter was intended to foster and rekindle a spirited cross-sectional dialogue among residents and businesses. Numerous unresolved and highly contentious issues needed to be addressed with a future detailed plan for resolution.

My letter appears to have succeeded on steroids. A community backlash is rearing in numerous forums. For example, the letter in your July 9 edition from Frank Sissini (“Now is time to redefine NOTL's tourism experience”) was excellent, outlining his thoughtful and measured vision for the future of Queen Street, etc.

Furthermore we have a new group formed by Bruce Gitelman and its website to formally continue the battle to take back our town from overtourism. The backlash from within the community is evident from the residents' contrarian and diverging comments already flowing into his newsletter, which can be viewed online.

NOTL has already reached a tourism saturation point. It may well be welcomed by our merchants, not so much by the resident taxpayers who have been held captive and forced to be housebound during the peak tourist season.

We have been overrun by street and sidewalk overcrowding, plus heavy traffic. We are losing our residential streets, little by little, to parking meters. Hundreds of rental cyclists have become a pedestrian and driver's nightmare, with more accidents to happen. I was almost T-boned exiting Hwy. 55 into Anderson Lane. There is no stop sign on the cycle path, which is supposed to end at Anderson Lane. They just cycle through without looking. This includes red lights and no crossing warning signs.

The current tourism trend is not sustainable without a professional study involving all of the stakeholders, detailing future changes with an implementation plan and dates certain for execution.

The undisputed impact of overtourism, as recorded in cities and towns worldwide, is far too scary and staggering to ignore. We in NOTL are not immune to the same dire destiny and attendant catastrophic consequences. We will be rolling the dice without action.

Evidence of frustration is flowing in and  the ball is in our elected officials' court. Your constituents are fed up.  Without urgent action our tourism industry and the town will regress to an earlier time

Lord Mayor Betty Disero and council take note. There has already been a call in letters to the newsletter for a petition on the tourist issues.

This topic will not go away, it will fester and could well evolve into the number 1 issue in the next mayoral and council elections.

Samuel Young