By Mike Williscraft
On the heels of inquiries by concerned citizens and a subsequent story in the March 26 edition of NewsNow, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority took quick action closing Beamer Memorial Conservation Area last week.
Among those who commented early last week was Grimsby resident Jim Cowan, who also contacted NPCA vice-chair and Grimsby representative Bruce Mackenzie.
“There is no question in my mind that immediate closure of the facility is required to help prevent further spread of COVID-19. It is imperative that we react immediately,” wrote Cowan after reading NewsNow’s coverage last week.
And the NPCA did exactly that, taking additional steps to support social distancing.
“Yes, these times are very concerning, fast changing and challenging. The NPCA has been closely observing the situation and on March 16 it was one of the first agencies to close its conservation areas and facilities and office to the public,” noted Mackenzie.
“The areas were open for passive use and now that situations are found where people may not be following proper physical distancing the NPCA has announced that its conservation areas are closed to passive use as well, effective tomorrow (Thursday).”
In the last editon, it was noted that hundreds of area residents had turned out at Beamer with cars lining both sides of Quarry Road out to and along Ridge Road.
Mackenzie noted that the NPCA had been monitoring the situation for some time.
“On Monday, March 23 the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch ceased monitoring the spring hawk migration at the Beamer Memorial Conservation Area. This programme has been on going to 45 years,” noted Mackenzie.
“Yes, changes are happening very quickly and the NPCA has been in contact with various agencies and the public. We certainly appreciate you (Mr.Cowan) reaching out and bringing your concerns to us. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.”
The NPCA also released details in a formal communique.
“Effective March 26, all NPCA Conservation Areas will be closed to the public indefinitely, this includes passive use like walking, hiking, and birdwatching,” reads the statement.
“On March 16, the NPCA closed all conservation area programs, services and facilities for active public use. During the past two weeks, NPCA parks remained accessible for passive use such as walking and hiking in keeping with our commitment to community well-being.”
“NPCA has closely monitored the evolving COVID-19 risks to public health and safety and we regret to inform our community that due to the seriousness of COVID-19, and in an effort to support social distancing, all NPCA parks including parking areas will be closed as of March 26, 2020.”
Cowan said the NPCA’s actions were needed and will be effective.
“Your quick response and decisiveness may very well save some lives,” said Cowan.