It's official — swimming at the Wakefield Covered Bridge is banned.
At the June 6 council meeting, La Pêche council voted unanimously to adopt a bylaw to ban swimming at the Wakefield covered bridge after the death of two people in the last seven years.
Council’s decision follows a recent coroner's recommendation to ban swimming after the 2021 drowning death of a 22-year-old Algonquin student.
For many Wakefielders, jumping off the covered bridge and swimming in the nearby rocky waters was a rite of passage — it meant summer was in full swing. But now, things have changed.
Despite the village's history of swimming at the coveted spot, the municipality said its hands are tied. According to the council, if La Pêche ignored the coroner's recommended swim ban, the local government could be held responsible if another drowning occurred.
“It doesn’t bring me joy to impose this ban, but it is the only responsible decision to make,” said La Pêche Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux.
Those caught swimming in the 75-metre parameter around the bridge can now be fined $500.
Even though swimming is banned, the stairs that lead down to the shoreline beneath the bridge will remain open.
Additional highlights from the council meeting:
Council said the estimated cost of the new town hall to be built at 99 and 101, Route Principale Est will be $9,175,000. Council said they hope to borrow government money for half of this cost;
The municipality will spend $10,600 on seven, high-grade and weather-proof picnic tables to be placed around the municipality: four tables in Monette Park in Duclos, two tables in Masham’s multisports park, and one table near Masham’s new pumptrack;
Seasonal kitchens like food trucks are now allowed to operate along roadways, but not on public property. Existing businesses must give incoming food trucks permission to set up shop near their stores.