Canatara Beach debate prompts confrontation between mayor, councillor

Sarnia's Canatara Park Beach Lifeguard Office. June 25, 2014 (Photo by Melanie Irwin)

There was sand kicked in some faces Monday as Sarnia councillors debated replacing the 60-year-old lifeguard office and washrooms at Canatara Beach.

Nathan Colquhoun thanked fellow councillor Bill Dennis for his ideas on moving the city forward, then accused Mayor Mike Bradley of doing the opposite.

“I think the things that Bill is doing and the vision that he has, and the other communities that he looks up to, I think it’s a wonderful thing for the city,” said Colquhoun. “If there’s one thing that drives me crazy, is having somebody who’s been sitting on council, and I think has been holding our city back for a really long time from actually getting some stuff done.”

Colquhoun added that the city needs to “own that we haven’t done a lot of great things lately.”

Mayor Bradley defended his record and that of past councils.

“We’ve done some wonderful things here that other cities have come here, from the sports complex to the waterfront, to look at,” said Bradley. “If you’re going to be positive about your city, also don’t put it down when you’re looking at why we should be doing other things.”

Bradley said he would ignore councillor Colquhoun’s personal comments.

“I’ve given my heart and soul to this city, and one of my jobs with council is to give advice and to try and keep some balance to what we’re doing. The motion’s fine. I have no difficulty with the motion. We will deal and debate it when it comes back here. But I do have a responsibility to say, listen, there are a lot of good people who have worked hard in this community and they deserve to be respected when we’re talking about what the community should be doing.”

Council agreed to consider replacing the old lifeguard office during 2022 budget deliberations.

Councillors Margaret Bird and Terry Burrell voted against the motion.

Bird felt the timing was wrong and the city needs to focus on pandemic recovery first, while Burrell didn’t like the idea of the city potentially running a restaurant on site.

Councillor Mike Stark noted that Canatara Park was left to the city by Maud Hanna, and there are restrictions within her will that limit future development.