During Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Councillor Chris McGuire alerted council and staff that the beaches in Smiths Falls are currently under a no-swimming advisory due to high levels of bacteria. “I went to check it out on Sunday afternoon and it’s really bad. There are feathers and goose droppings not only in the area where you get ready to swim, but also floating by in the water. I know the bacteria levels aren’t because of stagnant water, because you can see the goose droppings coming by in the current. I really think we need to do more there. This is the peak of the summer, and there’s lots of kids still using it even though it’s under advisory. It’s not in sanitary condition for kids to play in. What are we going to do this week to clean that up?”
Director of Community Services Art Manhire replied that staff has been raking up “as much as we can.” He also noted that there is room in the budget to hire more staff to clean up the waterfront “a couple of hours a day.” Director Manhire told council he has been in touch with Public Health, and added that increased rain the evening before the health unit takes their measurements also affects the bacteria readings as it “potentially washes some of the goose droppings into the water.”
“We want to make the space a little bit more usable for people. It’s very labour intensive to do, but we are looking to enhance that service along with a couple of other services down at Murphy park. We should have something in the next week or two. In the meantime, we do have staff down there to clean it up as much as we can,” explained Manhire.
Public beach testing and updates are performed through the summer by the Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark health unit. They post notice of unsafe swimming conditions at any beach that is showing high levels of bacteria, and update weekly. Their results are also available online at healthunit.org.