The Grand Bend Party is still on new bylaws are helping: OPP

The party at Grand Bend's main beach is still spilling over into a residential area but the OPP say the party problems are getting better. Heather Wright Photo

The party at Grand Bend’s main beach is still spilling over into a residential area but the OPP say the party problems are getting better.
Heather Wright Photo

There  are still loud parties, but it is getting better in one of Grand Bend’s most infamous neighbourhoods.

Lambton OPP say efforts to quell some of the wild activity in Plan 24 – where dozens of teens rent cottages at exorbitant prices so they can party  – appears to be working, but that doesn’t mean everything is quiet.

The OPP maintains an office at the beachfront community and beefs up the number of officers during the summer. On long weekends, up to 25 officers and two supervisors are in the community to deal with the tens of thousands of people who come to The Bend for some fun.

Police lay hundreds of charges – 404 under the Liquor Act last Victoria Day weekend alone – but Lambton OPP detachment commander Scott Janssens says 80 percent of the enforcement is in an area called Plan 24. That’s where the party cottages are.

“There is one house with 35 or 40 kids and they’re all under aged… or if you have 20 in there and there is room for four, it causes issues for us,” says Janssens.

Last winter, the municipality made changes to property standard and noise bylaws and decided to increase the amount of enforcement during the summer. Four full-time and four part-time officers spent a lot of time in the area at a cost of about $3,200 but officials say it paid off with less charges being laid and fewer complaints from neighbours.

Janssens says there has been a noticeable difference this year because of the bylaw enforcement and security guards hired by the owners of the cottages.

Janssens adds work to improve the main street also helped. “The municipality spent that money to make it more of a family-oriented beach,” he says it has brought a calmer clientele to the beach.

But Janssens says it doesn’t mean the municipality could scale back enforcement in the area, because teens will continue to come for fun. “There are always going to be issues… but the calls are going down.”

The Lambton Shores Community Association reinforced that view to council during a delegation Monday. “Although Council’s Short Term Rental Accommodations Committee has made a good effort to educate and encourage cooperation from property owners who rent to too many disrespectful tenants, the lack of consistent bylaw enforcement is undermining all their good intentions,” says Sharon Weitzel. “If Council fails to ensure that by-laws are being enforced it is our determination that the Municipality may have liability issues. Certainly, if any resulting fines are not a large enough deterrent council needs to rethink its approach to all by-law enforcement issues,” she added.

Council vowed to meet with the homeowners before teenagers start coming to Grand Bend for Prom weekends.

– Heather Wright