After decades of managing the activities at the public beach, the North Hatley Recreational Society (NHRS), a non-profit organization composed of volunteers, has suspended its activities for the summer and winter periods of 2018-2019. According to town officials, the beach will still open this summer and continue with business as usual. The decision was made after negotiations between the NHRS and the municipality failed to reach a formal agreement regarding the management of the beach. Both parties have published detailed explanations of the situation; North Hatley released a special ‘News from Council’ edition outlining the town’s position. The NHRS put a post on its website with a document entitled ‘Context leading to the decision to suspend the NHRS activities’. Citizens have thrown their hat into the ring as well, with a petition calling for a committee to be formed to come up with an agreement to satisfy both parties, maintaining the status quo at the beach in the meantime. According to NHRS President Mathieu Devinat, who has been with the organization for two years, the group suspended its activities because of the municipality’s refusal to budge on key issues at the beach. “It wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly,” he said, adding that a substantial part of the issue was related to financial concerns. Among the conditions that the town wanted to impose were extended hours for lifeguard supervision at the beach and free entry for North Hatley residents. According to Devinat, the conditions came without an offer of additional funding from the town to make up for the losses that would be incurred. A countermeasure was proposed by the town to increase the fees for non-residents to use the beach. Devinat explained that because the town’s stipulations were presented as non-negotiable, the NHRS had no choice but to walk away. As a non-profit, beginning the summer knowing, based on figures from previous years, that operating the beach with the imposed conditions would lead to a deficit was unreasonable, Devinat said. He added that the price increase for non-residents could risk decreasing membership rather than boosting revenues, and would also penalize community members outside of town who have volunteered and contributed to the successful running of the beach over the years. Another issue was locking the front gate of the beach outside of supervised hours, preventing public access. According to Devinat and the NHRS, locking the gate would not deter use and would likely cause bigger liability issues, and also lead to a decline in the quality of life of residents in the area who often frequent the beach outside of opening hours. See full story in the Friday, May 4th edition of The Record.