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Morningstar Mill closes to the public

Hundreds of visitors, ignoring of social distancing behind decision from the city St Catharines
Several emergency calls to the area and large groups of visitors are said to be behind the closure of Morningstar Mill. (File photo: David Stephen/Thorold News)

The city of St Catharines announced on Friday morning that they are shutting down public access to Morningstar Mill after repeated emergency calls to the area, and visitors flocking to the site while ignoring social distancing guidelines.

Officials have expressed concerns over the area, that connects to the Bruce Trail and Decew Falls, after hundreds of visitors from all over Ontario have been coming to the area, and are now placing security personnel and barriers to deter visitors.

“Beyond the considerable risk of COVID-19 transmission the persistent crowds have generated constant safety concerns, with individuals refusing to stay on marked trails, or prepare appropriately for excursions on the trail system. Off-trail areas can pose considerable risk of injury to hikers via hazards such as unstable cliff edges. Since June 3, St. Catharines Fire Services has been called to the site five times to rescue injured or distressed hikers, tying up valuable emergency resources,” the announcement said.

Earlier this week Thorold city council decided to restrict parking access on Decew- and Cataract Road after emergency services had to ask for police assistance to clear the roadway from parked cars restricting access to the area during emergency calls.

“This is really about protecting public health and safety,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer David Oakes, adding, “as we move forward with reopening facilities and spaces one of our guiding requirements will be continued protection of the public and mitigation of COVID-19 transmission. We understand many enjoyed this space and we are working to address the concerns, so we can reopen Morningstar Mill for everyone to safely enjoy.”

The area will be close until further notice.