Don't Get Stuck In Gridlock!
Each year this article is re-published to help visitors to Wasaga Beach navigate through the worst of Wasaga Beach traffic. While the situation has improved greatly in recent years with the widening of several parts of Mosley Street (the main street which runs through town), there are still spots - specifically as you get close to the popular Beach 1 area which can be problematic. To help our visitors understand the area better, the traffic jam survival guide is a must-read for new visitors.
May 24 is perhaps the busiest weekend we
experience here in Wasaga Beach. People are anxious to shed their winter
jackets and begin the summer and one of the favourite things to do at
this time of year is head to the beach.
When I first moved to Wasaga Beach, I made the classic rookie mistake of trying to drive to Beach Area 1 during a long weekend. I sat bored and frustrated in my car for 3 hours just to go 3 blocks. For you math enthusiasts, that's one hour per block. Thankfully, I was not going all the way to the main beach. That would have required an all day investment of time.
People start to get a little nuts when they are confined to their over-heated car for hours with lousy air-conditioning. Some folks become aggressive and will try driving on the unpaved shoulder to butt in front of you. Tempers flare, horns blare, couples fight and children cry. It's a terrible situation and if you and your car survive without breaking down, it will be etched in your memory forever as something you don't ever want to repeat.As a sidenote; a few years ago, before my husband and I became seasoned Wasaga Beach residents, some friends of ours came for a visit, and got stuck at our hotel. Traffic was gridlocked in both directions. People simply gave up and parked their cars wherever they could, and our friends had to wait until 1 a.m. before they were no longer boxed in. Needless to say, they were not impressed and haven't visited Wasaga Beach since. Despite our assurances that it isn't always like that here, they were sufficiently turned off and refuse to return. That's an incredible shame since this town has so much to offer. Traffic jams are bad for business and generate a terrible reputation for our beautiful town. The reality is that this type of gridlock traffic happens in Wasaga Beach occasionally. It's completely predictable and it can be avoided if you know a little more about the area.
Traffic congestion in Wasaga Beach has always been a thorny issue for local residents. Can you imagine owning a home in an area where you are a prisoner for days at a time? Where it's nearly impossible to get an ambulance through during an emergency? Where dashing out for a litre of milk is just not possible? For a handful of residents who live in the heart of the Beach One area; this is their reality. The rest of us deal with big city rush hour traffic conditions throughout the rest of town, but the Beach 1 area is another matter and one which should not be under-estimated.
Gridlocked traffic can come as a huge shock to tourists who pictured a leisurely drive to the beach only to get stalled just a half mile from their destination. So the question is "how do the locals deal with the situation?" Many of us joke that we have developed a bunker mentality to deal with the issue. We grab our groceries a few days before the weekend arrives, fill the car up with gas and hope that nobody gets sick. Still, it never seems to fail. The dog will inevitably need a trip to the vet or you'll realize that you remembered everything at the grocery store except the one item you really needed. Whatever the reason we often find ourselves out there on the road with thousands of others who need to get from point "a" to point "b".
The locals, at least those who do not take a vacation away from the beach, have developed a few tricks to stay sane. If feels weird to say "take a vacation away from the beach". Using the long weekend as an excuse to visit friends and relatives outside of Wasaga Beach is a common solution for some folks but this guide is for those people who decide to stay.
Get here before the Day-Trippers
Traffic is at its worst on Saturdays, Sundays and Long Weekends. When the weather is particularly warm, thousands of people get the same idea to head to the beach to cool off. These "day-trippers" usually head to Beach Area One and Two, and they tend to arrive just before noon. If you plan to arrive before the Day-Trippers, you should be able to avoid the worst. Get here early.
Know your Beach Areas
The worst traffic area is between the intersection of Dunkerron/Mosley Street and the Main Street bridge (see map right). If your accommodation is in this area, try to arrange an early arrival. Even if you are unable to check in early, you would be better off to park your car and go for brunch, do a little shopping at Stonebridge Town Centre(east), the 45th Street Plaza (west) or Riverbend Plaza (central). Or, just enjoy some time at the beach prior to check-in. There are plenty of areas to park for a fee. Assuming you got here early enough you should have no trouble getting a space.
Shopping for food and supplies
Wasaga Beach has a few grocery options, Foodland (River Road & Main on the east side), Superstore (45th & Mosley) or the Wal-Mart (Main Street) which sells groceries in the centrally located Stonebridge Town Centre. There are some convenience stores scattered throughout town plus a Shoppers Drug Mart at 45th & Mosley which sells food items in a pinch. You will save yourself loads of aggravation if you stay out of the stores at peak times and shop during late-night or early hours.
Consider Alternate Routes
Bring a map of the area with you and learn about alternate routes. Try Klondike Park Road to enter the town, or Sunnidale Road. Enter from Hwy 26 if your cottage is in the west end. Most locals won't use Mosley Street between Dunkerron/Mosley and Main Street during weekends or holidays. If I need to go from the west end of town to the grocery store in the east end, I'll use River Road instead of Mosley Street, or zip around Wasaga Sands to Klondike Park which takes you around the edges of Wasaga Beach. There are some clever back routes if you have a map handy. If you happen to own a GPS system, just head up Klondike Park, Sunnidale Road, or 45th Street and it will help you navigate around the perimeter of town.
Bring a Bike
A bike is a must-have mode of transportation here. We have a series of bike paths (actually just paved shoulders I'm told) which run nearly the length of town. Beware of impatient drivers though, as they sometimes try to illegally pass using the paths.
Advice for Day-Trippers
a) The beach is 14 km. long and there are several beach areas. They are all nice for a family picnic. Each area has parking, washrooms, shaded areas and plenty of sun and sand to go around. If you get here and the traffic is very slow, consider a beach area other than 1 or 2. Trust me, you will spend hours in your car if you arrive after 11 a.m. during weekends or holidays.
b) If you absolutely must go to Beach 1 or 2 look ahead to see how the traffic looks. If traffic appears to have stopped - you are best to park your car at a parking lot and walk. From the east end there are parking lots before the Main Street bridge. From the west end, there are several beach area parking lots along Shore Lane (see the maps provided on this page) and on Dunkerron Ave.
Darlene Watters is the author, editor and publisher of Day At The Beach. She also operates the wasaga.com web site. Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone, and do not represent the official positions of any organization or company who advertises on this website
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