Picturesque village

‘This has been discovered’: West end of Caledon braces for tourists amid third wave of COVID-19 pandemic



Judy Mabee from Belfountain in the village square.
  • The city and region have implemented several road safety measures in communities west of Caledon in an attempt to mitigate the impact of important visitors.

Each August, Caledon town officials prepare for an influx of tourists to the villages of western Caledon who come to witness the fall makeover.

They call it the “fall colors protocol” and the measures include increased enforcement of police and regulations on roads and signs.

But in recent years, tourists have come for more than just the fall show.

In the spring of 2020, Forks of the Credit Provincial Park’s first weekend opened amid the initial COVID-19 lockdown, with 10,000 people flooded in the area.

“It was discovered,” said regional councilor Lynn Kiernan.

“Everyone wants to go because it’s so beautiful,” she says.

Kiernan said she is planning the “Fall Color Protocol” meeting in March now – so it can start in the spring.

The villages do not have the infrastructure to support the volume of visitors.

“It can be very busy,” said Judy Mabee, who lives in Belfountain and is a member of the West Caledon Residents group. “Cars and people are spreading everywhere.”

The group was formed by area residents this year to work with city, area, police, conservation and trail associations to try and mitigate the impact of tourists.

“We value our community and we want others to do the same,” Mabee said. But she said the experience has to be a positive one for everyone involved.

The inhabitants asked the city to draw up a tourism management plan for the region.

The plan could include setting up an electronic system to notify people when certain parks or natural features are at full capacity.

Additionally, Mabee said there may be a tourist bus to take people from the parking lot to popular areas.

The city and region have implemented several road safety measures in communities west of Caledon in an attempt to mitigate the impact of large numbers of visitors. Photo by Karen Martin-Robbins

Parking is one of the major issues – in that there isn’t much.

In some areas – like Belfountain and the Badlands there are not many options for adding public parking spaces.

As the city works on an updated parking review and tourism plan, there are temporary “no parking” signs along all roads leading to villages and near trailheads.

There are also larger signs that indicate there is no parking in scenic areas.

Visitors who come to enjoy the natural spaces are something residents can support, but those who come to run on the winding roads are not.

There are hundreds of videos online of people “sculpting the curves” on the famous forks of the credit road.

Mabee said street racing was not only a safety concern, but was a nuisance.

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“Late in the morning you can hear the cars zooming in on the village and then spinning around to get back to the fork,” she said.

The city has designated several roads and villages in the area as community safety zones – including Cataract Road, Creditview, Kennedy, McLaren, McLaughlin, Mississauga Road, Shaws Creek and Main Street in Alton.

The region is also in the process of creating Forks of the Credit.

Community Safety Zones are roads designated by the municipality – usually in school zones – that have a particular concern for public safety.

Traffic rules do not change in the area, but penalties are higher for infractions.

Caledon OPP has also strengthened law enforcement.

“There are many quaint neighborhoods, as well as local businesses in Caledon, which will certainly attract more people in the coming months,” said Insp. Mike Garrant, Detachment Commander.

Kiernan said the city’s regulations department had changed the schedules so that officers could be available to patrol the area more often.

Mabee said that while a lot of work has been done since last spring, permanent change has been slow.

And residents and city officials are preparing for what will happen when the spring sun rises.

“The weather hasn’t even turned nice yet,” Kiernan said. “When the first sunny day comes, I will be very worried.”


Story behind the story: We wrote about the influx of tourists last year and wanted to inquire with locals, city officials and the police to see what progress has been made in dealing with it.



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