Kincardine becoming Ontario’s premier surfing destination


By Barb McKay


Kincardine is on its way to becoming the top destination for surfing in the province.


The municipality’s tourism department is working with the Regional Tourism Organization (RTO7) to promote Kincardine and Inverhuron beaches as the places to go to ride waves.


During the Feb. 19 Kincardine council meeting, community services co-ordinator Steve Murray said $10,000 in government funding was used to hire Urban Metrics to conduct research to see how the municipality stands up against other surfing destinations and how to best market it. Mike Johnson, of Urban Metrics, said that research prior to the latest study indicated that Kincardine is considered one of the best surfing destinations not only in Ontario but also in Canada.


“The proximity of Station Beach to the downtown core sets Kincardine apart,” he said. “Kincardine no doubt has the features to establish itself as the premier surfing destination.”


A new surfing competition, held last fall for the first time, drew 22 surfers. Johnson said he expects that event will grow and there is the potential for other competitions. He added that there is the opportunity for other activities, such as a summer camp where children can learn to surf.


Johnson said 200 surfers were surveyed for the study, most of whom were between the ages of 30 and 39 years old. Many of the surfers who participated in the study live in the Greater Toronto Area and surf at a number of beaches, including Sauble Beach and Niagara-on-the-Lake. The majority of surfers, nearly 90 per cent, indicated that Lake Huron has the best surfing conditions in Ontario and 70 per cent ranked Kincardine as their preferred destination, based on swell size, wave consistency, water temperature and beach accessibility.


Johnson said surfers are willing to travel if they can be guaranteed of good surfing conditions, if there are accommodations available and if there are other activities, shopping and dining. Where Kincardine is failing is in awareness that its beaches provide great surfing conditions, he added. The study recommends developing a marketing campaign to get the word out that Kincardine is a top surfing destination.


Other recommendations include having a local surf forecaster provide current water conditions to attract surfers to the area, install a better web camera to broadcast wave conditions and offer equipment rentals.


Councillor Ron Coristine suggested that Kincardine Tourism work with the Tourism Table to help link surfers to the downtown when they visit.


Councillor Ken Craig said he would like to hear from municipal staff about any potential conflicts with other beach uses, such as swimming. Recreation director Karen Kieffer said staff will be bringing a report to council at the end of March that outlines recommended uses at Station Beach.


Murray said the municipality is currently waiting to hear from RTO7 about possible partnership funding that would be used to market Kincardine as a surfing destination.


“I like it,” said mayor Larry Kraemer. “Let’s do it and we’ll overcome whatever hurdles there are.”