Ottawa

Popular Wakefield party spot to gain park status — and plenty of rules

A popular but controversial swimming spot in the western Quebec community of Wakefield is going to become a public park, a change that will allow the municipality to crack down on excessive partying.

Park designation will give municipality new powers to enforce curfew, prohibit alcohol

The municipality of La Pêche acquired the land beside Wakefield's covered bridge in November 2015, but that hasn't stopped the partying on the rocks, according to the area's councillor. (CBC)

A popular but controversial swimming spot in the western Quebec community of Wakefield is going to become a public park, a change that will allow the municipality to crack down on excessive partying.

The municipal council of La Pêche passed a resolution on Monday night to change the designation of the rocks next to Wakefield's famous covered bridge to that of a public park.

With that designation — expected to be in force by next summer — will come new rules: the park will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., no alcohol consumption will be allowed and no dogs will be permitted, said Coun. Claude Giroux, who tabled the resolution.

Signs will also be posted informing the public the area is governed by the bylaws, that there are no lifeguards on duty and that the water is potentially dangerous.

Partying and alcohol consumption on the rocks have been a long-standing irritant for nearby residents.

'The rocks have become a nuisance'

Last year a 23-year-old Algonquin College student who had been drinking died while swimming near the rocks.

Giroux said this summer alone, a garbage bin was used as a fire pit on the rocks and someone launched fireworks from the bridge.

"The rocks have become a nuisance," said Giroux. "They went from being a place of leisure and fun ... but the goings-on at the rocks has been so disturbing to the neighbourhood that the enjoyment of their property has eroded dramatically."
Jumping off the covered bridge in Wakefield, Que., and into the water below is not allowed, but many continue to flout the bylaw. (YouTube)

Last year the family who owned the land donated it to the municipality, giving the municipality more power to police the area. Giroux said the park designation will make it easier to enforce rules and fine scofflaws.

The park designation won't cover the bridge itself, but Giroux said police already have the authority to monitor and patrol there. Police already have the power to hand out tickets to people who jump off the bridge.

"The alcohol thing is the big issue ... if we can curb that we'll be successful. Is this is a guarantee it will work? No. But doing nothing was out of the question," he said.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated the municipality purchased the land. In fact, the land was donated to the municipality by the family who owned it.
    Mar 27, 2017 7:28 AM ET

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