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Downsizing the Dunes
  by Francie Dennison  
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May 1, 2014: Crews and heavy equipment were busy on Main Beach in Port Stanley today moving tons upon tons of sand in a complete reversal from Central Elgin Council's previous position in earlier years, moving from creating more dunes to downsizing the existing dunes that have effectively blocked the view of the beach for a number of years.

The municipality has already graded the beach, but this move to reduce the dunes by at least 4 feet in height is new. As big shovels dug the sand from the dunes they deposited it into waiting dump trucks. As one truck got filled and moved out onto the beach, an empty one moved into position by the shovels to collect the next load. Dumping their load down by the water like mini domes, graders then moved in to spread it out all along the beach near the water. From the west breakwater all the way down the beach to GT's a line of sand domes waited to be graded flat.

Carol Gates of GT's was delighted to see the dunes being downsized. "I'm thrilled," Gates said. "I can finally see the pier again." Last summer it was beginning to look to me like the ever-expanding dunes might overtake GT's.

I stopped in to talk to Cheryl and Greg Lale at Mackies about the dune downsizing. "We've been asking them to do this for years," Cheryl said. "Those dunes were a health hazard, especially with all the dogs using them for toilets. Kids were up to a lot of things in them that they shouldn't have been doing." I know they certainly were a garbage trap for all the debris blowing around that either escaped the garbage cans or was never put in them.

"Now people will be able to see the beach and water when they use the picnic pavilion," Cheryl said. "They haven't even been able to see the water from there for years."

"A municipal worker told us reducing the dunes would help stop our parking lot turning into Lake Mackies every time it rains," Greg said. "The way it's been, the water runs right down off the dunes into our parking lot."

"Lake Mackies, eh?" I commented. "We always call it Lake Boardwalk."

It is unknown why the municipality has had this change of heart about the dunes, and no doubt it will take a few days to complete the work, but it certainly is opening up the beach area and making the entire area look better groomed and considerably more inviting.

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