By: Mike Anderson

Imagine driving for hours to a public beach where there’s a long line-up for parking, no drinking fountains, no change rooms, and the washroom facilities consist of five port-a-potties at the back of an unpaved parking lot. 

Welcome to Holmes Point Park, located just north of Pefferlaw, Ontario. 

Once a quaint, out-of-the-way beach, popular with locals because of its sandy bottom and shallow water, it’s now a go-to destination for hundreds of out-of-town beachgoers on summer weekends. 

But the park has limited parking and lacks even the most basic amenities – provoking the ire of local residents who are concerned about beach overcrowding and its impact on the park and their properties.

Beachgoers are also upset with the facilities at the park, which many consider sub-standard. 

Jenny Baksh, who drove two-and-half hours from Niagara-on-the-Lake, says her daughter was so “grossed out” by the state of the port-a-potties, she refused to use them.

“I feel frustrated,” says Ms. Baksh. “You can’t use the bathroom. You have to wait 45 minutes for parking. You have to bring bottled water. I would have to think twice about coming again. It wouldn’t be at the top of my list. It would be at the bottom.” 

“I would have to think twice about coming back” – Jenny Baksh (centre)

Stephanie Montemarano, visiting the park with her daughters from Vaughan, is also appalled at the state of the temporary washrooms: “When I walked in I almost threw up, so I walked out. Then I went to another one, and I had to breathe out of my mouth the entire time. It was bad.” 

“When I walked in I almost threw up” – Stephanie Montemarano (2nd from right)

Last year, the town received multiple complaints about sanitary conditions at the park. Now, town staff are cleaning the facilities more frequently. But five port-a-potties are not sufficient for hundreds of beachgoers, according to residents. 

This was the condition of one of the porta-potties

They say some beachgoers are refusing to use the temporary washrooms, instead opting to urinate in the woods that border the park. 

“They don’t want to walk over. They’ll come over here and pee,” says Steven Greenhalgh, who lives next to the park. “I like this spot, I really do. But on weekends, we’re on guard.”

George Smith points to Mr. Greenhalgh’s property line — one of the spots where people urinate.

The lack of adequate washroom facilities isn’t the only “hot button” issue at this beach. Parking is a significant concern for both beachgoers and residents.

With only 70 spots in the parking lot, line-ups are commonplace by noon on most weekends. And that means lots of illegally parked cars and congested roads. 

“There are too many people going to the beach that are not paying for it,” says George Smith, a long-time resident of Holmes Point. “They park somewhere else. They park on someone’s lot. They park anywhere but here, and walk-in.” 

Mr. Smith wants to see more tickets issued, and parking fines increased. 

“By-law officers are not always consistent. They don’t always ticket,” he says. “The fine is $30. It’s $25 to park on the weekend. The fine needs to be $100. That would make people think twice about parking illegally.” 

The parking lot is full by noon on most summer weekends.

Frustration over illegal parking drove at least one resident to take the law into his own hands. He chained and locked the wheels of a car that was illegally parked on his property after the driver ignored his warnings not to park there. Police had to cut the chain but did not charge the resident. 

Town staff also report confrontations with beachgoers over parking. Recently, a man who didn’t want to wait for a parking spot, got out of his vehicle and threatened to beat up two summer students working the gate. Fearing for their safety, they locked themselves in their car. Police were called, but no charges were laid. 

Cullen Beierl, 18, and George Liapis, 18, were physically threatened

While there may be some “quick fixes” to deal with illegal parking and stinky port-a-potties, Holmes Point Park clearly requires a significant capital investment. Currently, it does not meet the standards of a modern park. 

Residents have made multiple complaints to the town, but they feel their concerns have largely fallen on deaf ears.

“They’re not doing anything,” says Mr. Smith. “It just seems pointless. Whatever we say, they ignore us.”  

The lack of dialogue was evident at a council meeting on April 17, when a delegation from Holmes Point wasn’t given an opportunity to speak, according to Carol Wolfe, another long-time resident.  

“The mayor ignored us,” says Ms. Wolfe. “We were on the docket, and she never called us up.”

Town council recently approved the initial stage of a waterfront development plan to improve its waterfront parks, including Holmes Point Park.  But it will take years to implement, and frustrated residents want change now.  

“It’s a waste of money,” says Mr. Smith. “Why not take that money and spend it on the park now.”



  1. I feel the same way about the washrooms at Sibbalds Point. Paid $400 to camp there and left after one day, my 7 year old niece told me to “breath through my mouth, that way the smell isn’t so bad”. Appalling.

  2. There’s more to the Beach problems at Holmes Point Park. Drivers are parking their Vehicles at the Peninsula Resort with the occupants getting out prior to entering so as to avoid paying a per person fee. They then head down the street to Holmes Point Beach thus further increasing the numbers there using the facilities. A number of these same beachgoers are bringing boats, jet skis and jet wake boards. They launched them from the Beach or launch ramp adjacent to the Peninsula Resort. Many of these water craft then find their way to Holmes Beach Swimming area where some whiz around amongst the swimmers and those wading in the shallow water. Two Jet wake boards where seen last week launched from the shoreline and the operators proceeded to race in and around those wading in the shallow water. Police were contacted but it is uncertain if they came out to the scene.


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