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The Weather Network
Jan. 28, 2020 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter to the editor: Ryerson Park beach water needs to be tested
Ryerson Park beach was a busy spot over the Civic Holiday weekend. (Ruth Denyer/Submitted)


Dear editor:

Another hot summer — and many people are swimming at our local beaches in NOTL. 

But a word of warning: while the water at Queen’s Royal Park is analyzed by the Region of Niagara to ensure it is safe for swimming, the water at Ryerson Park is not tested and many people using this popular Chautauqua beach are unaware of this. 

Case in point:  while out for a walk on July 30, I passed by Queen’s Royal beach and noted there was no one in the water. Returning home, I passed by Ryerson Park beach, where there were several people swimming in Lake Ontario. 

Is Ryerson Park that much more popular as a swimming spot?  Or was it because the water had been tested at Queen’s Royal and the beach had been posted, both online at the region’s website and in the park, as unfit for swimming? 

Was it safe to swim at Ryerson Park beach on July 30 if the water quality was deemed unsafe at Queen’s Royal? Something must be done to ensure that the water at Ryerson Park is also tested—or what’s the point of doing any testing at all?

It’s worth noting Queen’s Royal Beach failed water quality tests 14 per cent of the time in July and 18 per cent in June, according to, a Canadian-based online app that monitors water quality testing.

The Chautauqua Residents Association has been working for the past several years to have water testing at Ryerson Park reinstated by the region, even taking pictures of the numbers of people swimming at our beach and submitting these to regional staff as evidence of the increased usage. 

The recent report showing high E.coli levels at both Queen’s Royal Park and Two Mile Creek was alarming to us. Ryerson Park is situated in the middle of both sites.

Add in the unfinished state of the new sewage treatment plant, the amount of new building activity in Old Town, our proximity to the at-capacity sewage lagoons and the high water levels this year, and we believe we are justified in our concern about the water quality at Ryerson Park. 

It should be regional policy to test beaches where people are known to swim— period – not just those that are bigger or busier relative to another.  If no one looks at actual numbers of swimmers but only the ranking of one beach compared to another, then there is no possibility of expanding beach testing. 

And given the growth of not only Niagara Region, but the whole GTA, the popularity of our Niagara beaches will continue to grow. Yes, we understand there are limited funds, but with the amount of growth across the region, tax revenues have increased — and given the increasing numbers at local beaches, the amount spent on water testing should also increase.

There is no doubt that Ryerson Park has gone from a quiet neighbourhood park to a destination for those looking to escape the summer heat and enjoy the water. Just ask any resident of Chautauqua. 

Some tourists pitch tents, others bring picnics, barbecues and lawn chairs to set up for the day. Many more people, locals and tourists, now swim at the beach in our neighbourhood. 

It should be a simple undertaking to sample Ryerson Park water as it is our understanding that a municipal employee collects the water sample at Queen’s Royal Park to send to the region for testing. 

However, the region remains adamantly opposed to this, stating that our park is too small and there are not enough people who swim there, that they have limited resources and they are choosing to focus on the bigger, more crowded beaches where they will test more often. 

Our position is that this is not a well thought-out policy, especially in light of the town’s report on the E.coli levels at Queen’s Royal Park and Two Mile Creek.

We believe that water quality testing should be reinstated at Ryerson Park now.

John Gleddie


Chautauqua Residents