Closure of Oxtongue Lake Road supported by residents
Fall colours season still causing headaches in Oxtongue
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | June 28, 2017|
Residents and business owners on Oxtongue Lake responded with a resounding yes when asked if they supported closing nearby roads to local traffic during the fall colour season.
“Folks aren’t saying they don’t want business … they just want private property respected,” said Algonquin Highlands Coun. Marlene Kyle during a regular meeting June 15.
Kyle and Reeve Carol Moffatt attended an Oxtongue Lake Business Association (OLBA) meeting May 30 to discuss the ongoing issue of visitors entering private property during the “fall colours season” at Algonquin Park.
Visitation at the park has dramatically increased in recent years, according to a report from Moffatt, and traffic flow across Highway 60 heading to the park has become very slow. Many visitors have chosen to exit the highway, just a few kilometres short of the West Gate, and take a detour through the hamlet of Oxtongue Lake.
For more than a year, it’s caused Oxtongue residents headaches as visitors trespass on private property and block driveways.
On more than one occasion, visitors have paddled the lake in a canoe or kayak reserved for paying customers at nearby rental units.
The Oxtongue Lake Ratepayers’ Association (OLRA), surveyed ratepayers after the OLBA’s meeting about possibly closing roads to local traffic only during the fall colours season.
Residents from Oxtongue Lake, Blue Spruce, Algonquin Outfitters, Harris and Tom Paris Road supported the idea.
As a result, council decided to move forward with the closure of those roads during the months of September and October, limiting their access to local traffic only.
Extra signage will have to be purchased, but according to Mike Thomas, public works director, it is in the township’s budget.
Moffatt said the closures are necessary to protect not only the residents, but the township itself.
“It’s a bizarre situation,” she said, referring to visitors trespassing on private property and impeding EMS vehicles responding to calls.
She added the township runs the risk of getting sued if visitors were to hurt themselves while using private property.
Kyle echoed Moffatt’s statements.
“We also have to protect our seniors,” she said. “It can be frightening for them to see strangers walking around their property, so it’s also a security issue.”
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.