Brown’s Bay Beach back in business

Brown’s Bay Beach back in business

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The overhaul of Brown’s Bay Beach in Mallorytown is finally complete, bringing the scenic riverside park back to its glory days just in time for summer.  

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A grand reopening ceremony was held Friday morning at the beach and picnic area, where local politicians and members of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC) marked the end of the years-long rehabilitation project.

“Today is a very, very happy day,” said Hollee Kew, the commission’s chief executive officer. 

The park — owned and operated by the SLPC, a Crown agency of the province — had been closed since the 2022 season due to safety concerns as the site underwent significant revitalization work. It unofficially reopened last fall, but Friday’s ceremony marked the ceremonial reopening for the upcoming season. 

The oldest park in SLPC’s purview, Brown’s Bay now has a brand-new building on site, complete with areas for food and beverage services, changing rooms, a water fountain and water bottle refill station, a new seating and picnic area, and a playground.

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Brown's Bay
People visit the new recreational space at the newly reopened Brown’s Bay beach area on Friday, June 14, 2024. (SABRINA BEDFORD/The Recorder and Times) jpg, BT, apsmc

Construction included restoring a portion of the seawall, creating an elevated beach area to prevent shoreline erosion, and two new barrier-free entry ramps so swimmers with mobility issues can enter the water more easily. 

A new septic system was also installed, “ensuring increased protection of the water quality of the St. Lawrence River while providing necessary and sustainable wastewater management for the site,” the commission said in a news release. 

The project cost $6.2 million and was funded mostly through the province’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s capital repair and rehabilitation program, and bolstered by the park commission’s internal reserves. 

Bob Runciman, chairman of the SLPC, said the renovation was a long time coming as the park had been inadequately maintained for years. 

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“This park was allowed to decline over decades. I witnessed it,” Runciman said Friday.

“We’ve seen the decline. This government, and our MPP, have fought to make these changes and these investments, and we’re all benefitting from it.” 

MPP Steve Clark, who spoke on behalf of Stan Cho, minister of tourism, culture and gaming, said revitalizing the park was “a dream come true” for him. 

“As one of the oldest, or, in fact, the oldest of all the St. Lawrence parks, Brown’s Bay is certainly near and dear to my heart,” Clark said. 

“It’s one of the most beloved places in the Thousand Islands. People are drawn here for a variety of reasons, but it is the nicest piece of real estate, I think, and I’ll put it up against any riding in any province in our country.” 

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Steve Clark
Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark plays with his grandson, Ivan Lysko, in the newly-opened play area at Brown’s Bay on Friday afternoon. (SABRINA BEDFORD/The Recorder and Times) jpg, BT, apsmc

Runciman, who recalled his days as a lifeguard at Brown’s Bay beach as a younger man, has been with the commission for five years and said this revitalization was “just the start” of their plans.  

“We are going to do this all along the system. The St. Lawrence Parks Commission has responsibilities between Kingston and the Quebec border. We are making serious investments throughout the whole system,” he said.  

He also announced that SLPC plans to reopen the park’s abandoned campground across the road, which he estimated had been closed for 30 years. 

“We’re going to make it happen,” Runciman said, adding the commission aims to have it open by next year.  

“We have a grand scheme for that site, and it’s going to benefit all of us who live in the region and well beyond.” 

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The new beach and picnic area, however, is ready now for residents and tourists to enjoy. The entire project was “designed and constructed with inclusion and accessibility at the forefront,” officials said, allowing everyone to enjoy the space.

It features fully accessible gender-neutral washrooms and change rooms, with two wheelchair accessible washrooms and an additional universal washroom, which includes a fully powered adult care/change table.

Roger Haley, mayor of Front of Yonge where the park is located, was thrilled the park had finally reopened. The township does not have any other riverfront property, he said, and it had been without access to the water since the park closed in 2022. 

“This really is the only show in town for Front of Yonge,” Haley said. 

“This is it for us. So, we’re very happy, very thankful, very proud to have a facility like this in our township.” 

The grand reopening celebrations continue all weekend, with free admission for all from June 14 to 16. The park will be open daily for the 2024 season until Sept. 22. 

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