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Save the Beaches Inc.

c/o 597 Tiny Beaches Rd. N., R.R. 1, Perkinsfield, ON L0L 2J0

February 15, 2005

The Honourable Michael J. BryantMinistry of the Attorney General
720 Bay Street, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 2K1

Dear Mr. Bryant:

Re: Beach Access Mediation - Tiny Township

The Directors of Save the Beaches have received and reviewed the Report of the Mediator regarding Tiny Township Beach Access, dated Summer 2004.

For approximately the past 100 years, the people of Ontario have enjoyed open use and access to Tiny’s beaches by participating in various common beach activities such as sunbathing, swimming, hiking and walking.  When the ownership versus access rights debate began and tensions exacerbated over beach use, members of the Tiny Township community approached the Attorney General for its assistance in protecting the public interest.  Our association participated in good faith during the mediation process and remained hopeful throughout that some progress would be forthcoming. It is the opinion of our Directors and our membership (which includes a large contingent of back lot and inland residents of Tiny Township), that there was not sufficient progress made to enshrine and protect existing rights of access and use to Tiny Beaches.

The Mediation report on Page 33, addresses an idea put forth by beach property owners in 2001, to issue a revocable license of use that would be restricted to traverse, or walk along beach property.  In his report, the mediator discusses that the deficiency of this approach was that it neglected to take into account the interests maintained by beach users regarding prescriptive rights that included the “use and enjoyment of the beaches beyond mere walking”.

As you are aware, the ‘walk only’ approach was included in the mediator’s ceasefire proposal and described as “the only structure for dialogue that incorporated the respective needs and interests of each stakeholder”. The mediator has stated and included in his report (Page 35), that “the ceasefire does not remove or diminish rights perceived to exist and asserted by any stakeholder in the mediation process.”  Save the Beaches has always asserted that the people of Tiny and the surrounding communities have enjoyed unfettered use and access to Tiny beaches.  This assertion and protection of public rights was presented to the Honourable Jim Flaherty, by representatives of Save the Beaches and by Tiny Resident’s Working Together, in 1999. We do not perceive our wishes and attempts to promote the protection of this public right as being extremist or radical. It has been and continues to be extremely difficult for us to perceive how a ‘revocable license granted to walk a defined portion of the beach” is anything but a gross

reduction of existing rights.  We would once again like to reiterate, that by agreeing to the proposal to allow the public to “walk-only” on the beaches of Tiny the public and the Attorney General were being asked to relinquish existing rights, such as sunbathing, laying a towel down, etc., and later attempting to negotiate these rights back.

The impasse was insurmountable for Save the Beaches. Over $600,000 of Ontario taxpayer’s money has been spent and many thousands of letters have been forwarded to the Attorney General (prior to and during mediation), requesting the protection of public rights to access and use of beaches in Tiny Township.  The mediator states on Page 46 of his report that Option 1 “Waiting to See What Happens Next”, “will more than likely exacerbate the situation by leaving both the rights conflict and the sustainability issue unaddressed and allowing antagonistic feelings in the community to fester”.  We agree that this represents the worst option.

Page 2 ... Save the Beaches, February 15, 2005

To leave the question of rights unanswered is surely a road to further escalating tensions within this community. The people of Ontario deserve more from their government.  An assurance from the Attorney General and the Provincial Government that the rights of the public will be protected and that this will not happen in other Ontario communities is strongly needed.

We believe that public rights is a concern for the Attorney General and the Province of Ontario and that it cannot and should not be settled at the municipal level as suggested in your letter to Mr. Paul Torrie/James McKenzie, Global Resolutions Inc., dated December 16, 2004. We do not believe there is support from the present Township Council to protect the rights of beach users to continue unfettered use and access to Tiny beaches.  It was the past Council members that attempted to protect the rights of use and access through several initiatives, but at the same time they implemented policies which further restricted use and numbers being able to access the beaches.  This previous Council was not able to succeed in protecting the rights of traditional use to our beaches.  (Please see Appendix 1)  Our present Council has done nothing to promote a resolution to the beach issue. Members of this elected Council were promoted, supported and endorsed by the Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Association and Beach Associations.  We believe that a bias exists on this Council and that this bias hampers any equitable solution being achieved at this level of government.  This Council has just raised the costs of Permit Parking fees and the Shoreline Federation has actively been seeking more severe parking restrictions, bylaw enforcement and signage to be in place before next summer. (Please see Appendix 2)

We respectfully request that the Attorney General and the Province of Ontario fulfill the responsibility to protect the rights of the public.

We enclose Midland Free Press article, dated September 14, 2004, by Douglas Hunter. (Please see Appendix 3)  Mr. Hunter states that his research shows “for the better part of two decades, American legislators and policy makers at federal and state levels have been using English common law left over from the time of the Thirteen Colonies to shape a nationwide approach to preserving public access to shorelines. A fundamental reason is to ensure that development does not turn the nation’s coastlines of fresh and saltwater into private enclaves off-limits to the public.” This is the type of assurance Save the Beaches was seeking when it first approached the office of the Attorney General of Ontario for assistance.

Since your office has chosen to no longer fund mediation, we would request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience  to further discuss how we can work together to protect the Public Trust Doctrine. I can be contacted at 705-533-3309.  Please contact us immediately to set up an appointment.

Yours truly

Kathryn Speers

President

Save the Beaches Inc.

Attachments:

  • Appendix 1 - Letter to Paul Torrie, Global Resolutions from Bob Buchkowsky, (former Tiny Township Member of Council) dated January 4, 2005
  • Appendix 2 - Tiny Township Memorandum, dated January 3, 2005
  • Appendix 3 - Midland Free Press article, “Wither the Public Trust?”, dated Tuesday September 14, 2004




 

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