Nina Bilfochi defeated incumbent Mayor Brian Smith in Oct 2018 by over 2100 Votes. There are also some new faces on council. Sadly to our knowledge and research no mention or positive news on bringing back lifeguards to Wasaga for the summer of 2019 or beyond. It seems it was not even discussed or placed on any motion at council. The Province has also shown lack of concern for public safety beyond the town’s Beach 1-2. This is a 14 kms stretch. Other locations of numerous drownings in the past at populated beaches in Ontario will continue.
Outlet Beach and Sand Banks Provincial Park near Picton Ont , Rock Point Provincial Park on Lake Erie to name just a few also all have a history of multiple drownings and many near drownings. So our 20 year campaign water safety drowning prevention advocacy continues on.
We will not quit.
Always on top of any near drownings and drownings or safety issues on all these locations. Our mission is “in memory of the multiple loss lives lost, to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves”. Also a tribute to all the Lifeguards and the Professional legendary Beach Patroller’s prior that worked over 4 decades to earn the reputation as one of the best in the country.
Why 3 Billboards?
The province did nothing for 20 years prior to handing over the authority for Beach 1 and Beach 2. When the Province finally handed over authority to the town for Beach 1 and Beach 2 in 2017 we where all very optimistic the lifeguards where coming back. Why?? The Mayor said so! So many times we all lost count. But we believed in him… took him on his word. Also he used the excuse that the town never had the authority to hire lifeguards but now they do but he never delivered . He even said at one time council had previously approved bringing back lifeguards once they had the authority. This was all over the news. Here is the reality they could have implemented a Lifeguard program in the summer of 2017 but did not saying not enough time. My opinion there was enough time but then they said next summer 2018. So me and Elaine + other supporters of Lifeguards, I am sure many of the 1400 people who signed a petition of support + 60 people who attended a candlelight vigil for drowning victims was also lead to believe that lifeguards where coming back summer of 2018. Headlines in the news stating that fact also reassured us. The town could have acted in 2017 and 2018 but did not.
The Mayor’s word is good enough for us..” Mission accomplished” right? Wrong! After a budget meeting back in Fall of 2017 the town voted against it and rejected to bring back lifeguards for the summer of 2018. In all fairness to the Mayor, he is the only politician on record that says he wants lifeguards back. Regardless of his statement we still feel he did not fight hard enough on our behalf. But better to have one friendly on council than none at all. Another important fact is the Mayor has only one vote. Another fact is other council members or newly elected ones at Wasaga who are anti lifeguard are and will be getting in the way of the Mayor. In summary for years “words meant nothing” they had a silver platter handed over from the province of Ontario which took decades to achieve and when this historic opportunity came they all choked and dropped the ball. This is why we placed three Billboards. For 20 years our patient effort of lobbying writing emails to the Town with no response. All communication went no where.
In 2017 1400+ Signatures in memory of all the Victims + 60 people at a candle light Vigil for the lost lives + Media support to bring back lifeguards. This combined with Editorial opinion support in print on radio and TV locally provincially and nationally even the Chief Coroners strongly recommended to “bring Back lifeguards immediately to Wasaga Beach nothing happened. Then while ongoing drownings at the beach still no Lifeguards. This is why the three Billboards.
Elaine and John have dedicated their efforts not only to all the victims who drowned but their surviving families. For 20 years our patient effort of lobbying the provincial government and the town of Wasaga all our communications reaching out to help free went nowhere.
Toronto Star, Sat., July 15, 2017
Globe and Mail,
Wasaga had one of the best beach patrol lifeguard systems in North America for decades. It was scaled back and finally terminated in the 1990s. Since then…
The Mayor has promised numerous times and at one point said council had approved it once the Province handed over the authority of Beach 1 and 2 to the town of Wasaga. Well…
To off set the small costs for this program which is not very expensive there are grants at the provincial and Federal level to create much needed student summer jobs…
Meet the people that want to bring back lifeguards to Wasaga Beach
Elaine Tanner O.C.,
Triple Olympic Medalist swimming 1968 Mexico. Officer of the Order of Canada. OC. First woman to ever win an Olympic swimming medal for Canada. First triple Olympic medalist in history in a single games. Won multiple record number of Gold/Silver/bronze swimming medals internationally in the 1960s. Numerous world records. Voted Canada’s greatest athlete in 1966 at a young age of 15, still a record for the youngest winner. International Hall of Famer and an honor member of 7 Halls of Fame. Children’s author, member of Team Underdog
Former lifeguard at Wasaga Beach late 1960s early 1970s. Years of working as a Beach Lifeguard at highly populated beaches such as Wasaga, Head Lifeguard at Grand Bend on Lake Huron, West Rouge Lake Ontario. and Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver BC and many other waterfronts and pools in Ontario. SDMRO Certified as a Past Director of Municipal Parks and Recreation in Ontario. Examiner Instructor Certification Royal Lifesaving Society Red Cross and National Council of YMCA at one time supervising 50 pools. Wrote numerous water safety beach Lifeguard reports . Including his most recent one in Sept 2010 a requested by the Chief Coroners office on Drownings and Beach safety in Ontario. Member of teamunderdog.ca
Why has nothing been done?
In 2010 husband and wife team John Watt and Elaine Tanner wrote a report for the Chief Coroner, Dr. Bert Lauwers, covering beach safety, not only at Wasaga but in Ontario where there has been multiple drownings. In Sand Banks Outlet Provincial Park, Picton Ontario and in Rock Point Ontario. The report was submitted in September of that same year and Dr. Lauwers agreed to the recommendations of the report that Wasaga Beach and other well populated beaches where preventable drownings have occurred should indeed bring back lifeguards.
After decades of work by John and Elaine, jurisdiction of the main beach was finally handed over from the province to the Town of Wasaga. Previously, jurisdiction was the road back. The mayor of Wasaga had promised, once the town had control that the life guards would return.
In spite of the drownings, in spite of a petition signed by over 2000 people and in spite of the Chief Coroner’s recommendation, the town council voted to reject the proposal to bring back lifeguards.
Check out our “Take Action” page to see what you can do to help…