ABERFOYLE – Puslinch Lake is open to the public but there is no formal, maintained public access to the water – yet.
Puslinch Township is moving forward with a plan to install a pathway, bench and small garden at the public right-of-way between Travelled Road and the lake, providing pedestrian public access to the water.
For about 50 years, the McClintock’s Trailer Resort allowed public access to a beach on their property at 43 McClintock Dr.
However the McClintocks stopped allowing public access to the beach in July of 2020, because the large number of visitors caused a safety concern, with people leaving discarded garbage and even feces on the beach.
The McClintocks also previously allowed public access to their boat launch, which sometimes led to hundreds of kayaks and dozens of motorized boats crowding the 150-hectare (385-acre) lake.
After the McClintocks stopped allowing public access on their beach and boat launch, they received significant backlash, including phone calls threatening to burn down their home or swarm their property.
The McClintocks never had an agreement with Puslinch Township to provide public access to the lake.
In August 2021, the township hired a land surveyor to determine and delineate property lines around a small public access point near Travelled Road.
The surveyor installed steel monument bars and survey markers to identify property lines.
The project cost $5,357, and within 10 months the markers and monuments were vandalized and required reinstallation.
The surveyor returned, rechecked the plan of survey, and reinstalled the markers – services that cost the township $1,700.
On July 19, 2022, Puslinch staff installed signage to make clear the boundaries of the public access point. The signs disappeared within 24 hours.
During a council meeting last August, councillors speculated that Puslinch Lake residents were responsible for vandalizing and removing the signs.
Councillors also discussed concerns about parking – there is no parking at the public access point, and the fire department said vehicles were parking on the side of the road, which is not allowed because it is a fire route.
The closest parking is the commuter car-pool lot, a 12-minute walk with no sidewalks along Wellington Road 32/Lake Road.
During the meeting last year, council agreed a better option is to find another public access point where visitors can park and get to the lake.
However, no mention of a different access point was made during the recent council meeting on Sept. 27.
Instead, council voted to move ahead with installing a gravel path, fence, permanent signs, a bench, gardens and armour stone boulders to block vehicles at the public access point on Travelled Road.
The 2023 budget includes $10,000 for the project.
Councillor Sara Bailey suggested a bike rack be added to the plan.
Public works director Mike Fowler said a bike rack would add approximately $500 to the project’s cost, and Mayor James Seeley said the decision to install a rack would be left to Fowler’s discretion.
Sepulis noted the necessity of placing a “permanent monument that is not yankable.”
Acting CAO and municipal clerk Courtenay Hoytfox ensured “staff will continue to monitor the area for vandalism.”
Notices will be delivered to the adjacent homeowners informing them of the upcoming project.
The installations are meant to make the space more welcoming to the public, with clear signage separating private and public land.
Councillor Jessica Goyda said she is happy with the pedestrian access, but would like to continue exploring parking and the possibility of a boat launch.
There has been an issue of private docks with boats in the public access area. Local property owners have been asked to move any boats or docks from the public area.
Hoytfox said they are “not 100 per cent sure who owns the docks.”
Signs have been installed stating the docks are not publicly owned or maintained and advising “use at your own risk.”