Woodland Beach Master Plan
By Judith Grant
Woodland Beach Park is much loved by residents in the area. But for some time there has been serious concern about the Park’s well-being. Heavy use, not only by residents but by people from as far away as Toronto, has had a negative impact on the trees and plants in the Park. And some users leave behind enough garbage to make the Park an eyesore. Luckily, the beach association in the area – the Woodland Beach Property Owners’ Association – has yearned for some time to get involved in rejuvenating the Park.
Like Tiny’s four other major shoreline parks, Woodland’s Park is required to have some thought put into it in the shape of a Master Plan. The current Council has authorized the preparation of such a plan for its two-acre expanse.
The consultants that the Township hired have taken care to involve the residents by means of two information sessions. LGL Limited Environmental Research Associates and John D. Bell Associates held the first of these in the park on July 26 and the second on September 15. The first session elicited 21 comment sheets on eight topics: Ecology, By-law enforcement, Parking, Facilities, Access, Cost of upkeep, Pets, and New Structures.
As background, the consultants surveyed the park for both the variety and type of vegetation present. They found four vegetation communities: open sand dune (along the edge of the bay), balsam poplar treed dune (between the open sand dunes and the more wooded area of the park), Scotch pine coniferous plantation (in the southern and western portions of the park), and red oak deciduous forest (in the northern and eastern portions of the park). The plant list is fascinating and thorough — some 70 species in all, with asterisks next to the 23 “introduced species”.
The consultants defined four types of park users. Those from:
• Community of Woodland Beach
• Greater Township of Tiny (within 30 minutes drive)
• Simcoe County, and
• Greater Toronto area.
The Plan that the consultants drafted argues that the “public” that the park should serve is that defined in Tiny’s Official Plan, namely Township residents. In their view, the broader “public”, “should not be excluded from using the park, nor can they be, but rather the facilities and benefits of the Park should focus on the needs and values of Township residents. Other facilities, including Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, Awenda Provincial Park and others, are available to the general public….”
The “Issues and Recommendations for Implementation” have been carefully thought out. Recommendations include improved drainage, definition of public areas, installation of “Pay as you go Parking” for non-residents, improved access to parking permits for residents, installation of more picnic tables and of well anchored garbage and recycling bins, limitation of the points of access to the beach to give vegetation a chance to regenerate, improved access for seniors and the disabled, and installation of signage. Wisely, the consultants separated out the actions that could be undertaken in the short-term at relatively minor cost from those that would take longer and be more expensive.
The draft Plan has a commendable emphasis on community stewardship, and the Woodland Beach Property Owners’ Association might, with the approval of the Township, be willing to help:
• Pick up garbage
• Monitor ecological protection measures
• Report problems to Township officials
• Draft a “User’s Guide” to encourage improved maintenance of the Park
• Organize “Clean the Beach” events and fund-raising activities to generate funds for the Township to implement initiatives faster, and
• Generally encourage local residents to support a sustainable Park.
We look forward to seeing Woodland Beach Park revive and flourish.