Updated: May 5
Beach safety project receives boost in funding for pilot at Station Beach in Kincardine
With its spectacular sandy beaches and thriving tourism industry, Bruce County will host a unique project this summer to help make the waterfront a safer place to enjoy. The Municipal Innovation Council (MIC) has partnered with expert researchers from the University of Windsor to pilot a Smart Beach project in Kincardine—the first of its kind in North America.
On average, the Great Lakes region experiences nearly 50 drowning fatalities at beaches each year. This collaborative project will deploy an integrated sensor network that includes water level and wave sensors as well as traffic and pedestrian sensors.
The team will use the data collected to understand where and when waves develop and extend that modelling, translating it into usable information for the public.
“We’re excited to host the pilot project at Station Beach in Kincardine this summer,” said Mayor Gerry Glover, Municipality of Kincardine. “Every year we welcome thousands of people to our beautiful beaches, and thanks to the Smart Beach partners we will benefit from advances in technology to provide residents and visitors with real-time information on local water conditions to improve beach safety.”
Lead researcher on the project is Dr. Chris Houser, Dean of Science and a professor in the School of the Environment at the University of Windsor. Houser has extensive research around the physical and social dimensions of beach safety and drowning, with previous experience in Texas, Florida, Costa Rica and the Great Lakes.
“We’re looking forward to expanding our research into Bruce County,” said Houser. “Water conditions along the Great Lakes shorelines can be unpredictable—by the end of the pilot project, we’ll have something that Bruce County could use across all of its beaches.”
The pilot project will also include public education, beach surveys and community workshops in collaboration with UWindsor psychology researchers.
The initial investment for the Smart Beach project was provided by the MIC. From that investment, the County of Bruce and Dr. Houser recently secured an additional $260,000 of funding through Mitacs Accelerate.
“Partnering with Dr. Houser’s team is a significant win for Municipal Innovation Council members as well as for both residents and visitors to Bruce County beaches,” said Kara Van Myall, Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Saugeen Shores and Chair of the Municipal Innovation Council.
She added: “The innovative new technology combined with public education and awareness will save lives here on Lake Huron—and in the future could help waterfront communities across the county.”
Learn more about the municipal innovation happening in Bruce County at: nii.ca/municipal-innovation.