Fact or Fiction – Point Des Chenes FOI filed

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Photo from Pointe Des Chenes taken last summer.

Some revelations have come to light since we published Fenced and Forgotten – Pointe Des Chenes divided over the weekend.

Members of the public, including Rick White the manager of the campground for the past four years, have come forward. What he had to say has put the information given to city council, statements which were used to form their final decision, in question.

During the discussion surrounding the campground, a couple of direct questions were asked to Susan Hamilton-Beach, the director of public works for the City of Sault Ste. Marie.

Marchy Bruni and Corey Gardi asked about the 50 percent usage number in the report which can be seen below. This number was provided as one of the reasons to end the lease with the Lions Club.

Bruni asked her if the 50 percent was some sort of capacity limit put in place by the Lions Club this past summer or the Provincial government.

“I believe that was just the natural usage of the sites, there was no restriction. Obviously, all social distancing, and gathering with only your family unit, those types of rules were implemented, but not a capacity limit,” said Hamilton-Beach.

Gardi asked for clarification again on the 50 percent stating he had heard different things from different users.

“There were only 50% or so capacity last summer … it was not due to COVID-19. It was simply because the demand wasn’t there. Is that what I heard you say?” asked Gardi.

“That’s certainly my understanding. We had a bit of a late start due to water issues and COVID regulations. And the 50% capacity is what settled out,” replied Hamilton-Beach.

White spoke with SaultOnline over the weekend.

“Firstly, she said the park was at half capacity cause no one wanted to come out. That was false, we were at 55 campers due to COVID and wanted to be a safe zone for the campers,” said White. “We didn’t take any come and goes for that same reason. Keep the out-of-towners out made it a safer place. We had a wait list of at least 100 people.”

He also says he still gets e-mails from the website, he added the Lions were not getting any response to e-mails they have sent to the city. We have reached out to the Lions and currently have yet to receive any communication back from them.

Given this new information and what occurred at city council, SaultOnline has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city for documents surrounding Pointe Des Chenes all the way back to 2017. The city has 30 days to respond to the request.

If you are directly impacted by the loss of this campground please reach out to me a [email protected] or leave a comment below.

24 COMMENTS

  1. A Facebook group has been started for those of you affected or those who want to give ideas ,look for info . Please join . It is open to the public for those with any concerns about closing PDC campground.

  2. A Peaceful protest was suggested by Poitras . I will be in attendance. Let’s show city council how many are being affected by closing the campground and the washrooms at the day park .

  3. I have read most of the comments above! I’m so impressed at the level of concern and truths being posted. We have also been camping out at the point for well over 20 years. Point Des Chenes has been our summer home that we love and took pride in, where we made wonderful memories and made life long friends. This campground accommodates many more then 108 families. The water situation has been an issue for several years. We as campers were well aware of this and accepted that we would have to compromise, which we did because of the love we have for this campground.
    There were many untruths said at the council meeting that decided the fate of this campground! I
    What’s is going on?
    It seems our opinions and truths do not matter!!!!

    I would like all of us to have a voice in this matter!!!!!

    How would people feel about organizing a PEACEFUL PROTEST?

  4. I just read your article and decided I needed to also give some input . I am a resident at Ponite Des Chenes . My husband and I have lived here for over 40 years . In that time span we have watched a beautiful park become run down . I’m not sure why no money was spent in upkeeping the day park or the trailer park . Here is something I think everyone is missing in this whole argument about the closure of the trailer park. The pump house ( situated at the day park) that needs attention – services the trailer park AS WELL as the day park . There are flush toilets at the day park immediately north of the pump house . Day Parker’s do not go to the campground to use their facilities … so when council said they didn’t want to expend $ 275000 to fix a pump for 110 campers that really isn’t the truth . The pump house services our whole community . It allowed families coming to the day park to use clean facilities that FLUSHED . So in reality by fixing the pump you are really servicing all people who come to swim and picnic at the day park – our whole city – as well of course – the tent and trailers . Now for the first time in 40 years Porto potties are going to be used . I wonder where they’ll put them . Right beside the original buildings that have serviced flush toilets for day campers for years . What I’m saying is — don’t they have to fix this problem of the pump for the day park anyway . Or are all those families coming out to swim from June until September to be continually subject to below standard sanitation facilities for eternity now. Wonder what Bellevue Parker’s would say if their toilets weren’t upgraded and Porto potties were put in FOREVER. Something else – tourism – what are they thinking closing and not upgrading a trailer park . All of southern Ontario is dying to get out of the city . Young people are buying trailers as a way to escape and be in the outdoors . Council is missing a tremendous opportunity .

  5. Wake up!
    Somebody wants that property!
    How long do you have to live here before you can figure this stuff out on your own?

  6. I have been a seasonal camper for over 22 years at Point Des Chene and I have put money out of my own pocket to fix up my lot and make it my summer home. This camp ground could be full to capacity all summer long. It does need some improvements but we have made due with what we have for many years. I am devastated that the city has made this decision with out the input of the faithful seasonal campers. We need to keep this family park open.

  7. Why not charge a minimal fee to access the beach area to generate funds to keep the place open. Like they do at Brimley. I know it’s a state park however I feel that people would pay a fee to enter a beach that was kept clean and had other things available, such as a playground for kids, and washroom facilities. It’s sad that this is being closed. Come on City of SSM! Invest in your own community! Pay $350,000 for land that is not beneficial to citizens of this city but you won’t come up with a plan to overhaul our beach and campground? Very sad indeed.

  8. They should have shut this down 20 years ago as they already knew they had serious issues that weren’t going to go away but only get worse. Now they have another big scandal on their hands to add to their ever growing scandal list.

  9. This council is getting to be known as a very corrupt group, every time they decide to close or move something it turns into a scandel

    • And you can bet your behind someone wants to build lakeside condo’s out there…The park area will get sold at a loss to an out of town developer who will then get half the job done(I.E. the old hospital site) and then skip town with a bucket of tax money..Still find it strange they could buy the old strip club lot for buckets of money but can’t find the funds to keep the park going..Give it to the Lions club or Rotary…..

  10. Maybe Lion’s Club should buy it or have it gifted to them and the city not charge them any tax for 25+ years…or someone buy it and run it as a campground…the water quality will never be fixed….all this For the same 50 families and everyone else on a “waiting list”…doesn’t seem feasible at all…or increase the price per site and fix it up and maybe figure out a water supply

  11. My wife and I have been camping there for the last 14 years. Over the last 10 years I believe we’ve been bringing or own drinking water due to the benzene levels. So why now are they worried about this? This campground has always had a waiting list even with the water situation. Further more the people that took water samples at the park took samples next to my lot. I asked them on different occasions about the water quality
    They all said it had improved considerably. As far as reliability of the water station the city up graded their computer systems and never up graded the one servicing the park. I see the city as a land lord in this situation and the lions club as a renter. And the city shrugged their responsibilities to maintain said rental property. They would rather spend 300000 dollars on a piece of vacant property worth 60000 at best to keep the previous owner from rebuilding a strip club. I wonder how many citizens benefited from that acquisition as apposed to maintaining the camp grounds?

  12. It’s too bad you didn’t have accurate information about the reasons for the amount of campers at park the past season. After 7 years we were looking forward to another. We weren’t even given a chance to respond to this. Many families are affected by this . There are no other sites available even close to Elliot Lake. We are very possibly going to sell our home and move as having this summer retreat kept us here as retirees.The park was turning campers away for safety reasons . It was not for a lack of people wanting to camp with us. The council should have confirmed information they used which was wrong.Money has been spent in places that didn’t affect as many people.
    Please consider how many people your decision has affected and those it will.

  13. My wife, kids and I are affected by this closure. We have been there for two years. We were aloud no visitors or family members unless living in same household at the park all summer due to Covid. They were also not allowing any new campers outside of approx.. 40 trailers at the start of the season which were already seasonal campers from year before. There was indeed a cap due to Covid. Whether it was a mandate from the city, Lyons club or management team, that wasn’t confirmed as we could not get a straight answer.

    My wife and I are both retired and sent in emails and resumes to manage the park for this year as Rick and Veronica White were giving up the managerial position.

    This not only affects immediate families , it also affects extended families for everyone seasonal at this campground. Kids, grandkids, grand parents , aunts and uncles..one of the only places where our kids can go without tv, computers and internet and actually play outside even into the evening without worries about drugs, safety or their surroundings.

    So in reality, it affects more than just 108 campers, it is more in the neighbourhood of 400-500 family members.

    There are no current seasonal sites available within 1-1.5 hours of the Soo. Anybody doing seasonal have waiting lists of 50-100 names.

    They are willing to spend thousands of dollars on another skate park, when the one we already have, only affects maybe 100 people. Or the bike lanes, painting, signs all around the city for a very limited few that will actually use them which is in fact hundreds of thousands.

    Thank you for your time on this matter, it is greatly appreciated by all the campers at the park.

    Sincerely yours

    Donald & Joanne Carter

  14. I have been a seasonal camper for the past 7 years and the water quality has been the same for more years than I have been there. We as seasonal campers have understood that the water was not drinkable and we were fine with that we supplied our own water for drinking. Also it was my understanding that the pump system was to have been replaced in 2019. My trailer is within site of the entrance and I saw many non seasonal campers being turned away due to COVID-19 restrictions. The park has been full or near full for the 7 years I’ve been there with seasonal and also people from across Canada from tents to mega motor homes. There are seasonal campers that have been camping there for the past 20 years as with the park closing we have no other options available . The park was a meeting place for friends and family. It was our summer cottage. A few people that are seasonal campers bought new trailers last year thinking that we would be enjoying our happy place.

  15. dear dan. my husband and i have camped out at PDC for 22 years and were looking forward to many more. i had emailed my coucillor on sunday as soon as i heard about the meeting the next day. i explained in the email to Sandra Hollingsworth about us not having drinkable water for mor than 15 years. we have always brought our own water from home to drink and cook with. the water on the taps were all tagged. DO NOT DRINK including the bathroom. the camp also had the bathroom closed on the east side where the tent lots were. without drinkable water and no showers the campground couldn’t have any tents or tent trailers out there. out of towners driveway through were turned away also. girlguides and brownies that have camped out there for years were not allowed last summer. the seasonal campers that did stay out there were not allowed any visitors or family that didn’t live in their house. there are campers that usually watch their grandkids during the summer so they weren’t allowed to have them out there. i had wrote an email to Sandra and asked her to bring up these things and more at the meeting but for some reason she did not. hmmm! we were given no notice so that we could have represented ourselves. it was never mentioned either that in two days we had collected approximately 500 signitures on a petition to keep the park open! hmmmm a lot of us feel like we have been blindsided by the city!! thanks for taking the time to read this.

  16. I’m glad your looking into this we were not given any notice this just came up out of the blue. Half capacity was because of covid rules no one goes into the campground. All campgrounds are full why wouldn’t point does chene be. There is more to the story that meets the eye. We have been camping there for more than 20 years. We haven’t drank the water for at least 10 years. But we were fine with that

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