Ipperwash residents warn
“CICA wants to act responsibly, but there are beach front owners who may act on their own.” was the message from Centre Ipperwash Community Association (CICA) at Lambton Shore’s regular council meeting Tuesday.
Eugene Dorey, chair of CICA sat down with members stating this association is relieved the municipality has been in consultation with their lawyers about the safety of this beach regarding the barriers that had been removed in December by Kettle Stony Point chief Tom Bressette. But, he said, “talk is not action and they want action- before the summer season.”
Lambton Shores council met with their solicitor Barry Card in a closed session before council began related to issues stemming from Ipperwash beach. A motion made on december 18th, 2014 from this council discussed banning all vehicles from Lambton Shores beaches and the legalities with enforcement concerns went to the lawyer. Mayor Bill Weber stated, In a rise and report from the in-camera meeting was that “they are making progress.”
“First and foremost the barriers must go back for safety , economic and environment reasons. If council does not do this property owners and they are owners, will have to do it themselves,” explained Dorey.
“There is no objection to continuing talks with the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, etc., but the fact is they must take place in an atmosphere of calm. For the moment, nature is taking care of the situation on site, there is ice out as far as you can see, but that will not last long. In March, particularly, the beach and dunes are at their most vulnerable and need support from humans, not wanton destruction,” said Dorey.
He told council CICA is already aware of the economic impact on the December 5th, 2014 removal of the barriers. “As of today I have been told of at least 18 cancellations for the summer rentals,” he said adding, “…Time is of the essence. Council needs to have specific plans in place now to be implemented as and if necessary. If council chooses not to do this the property owners plan to do it. How this will be done may not help tourism at Ipperwash, but at least the safety and environment concerns will be addressed.”
In a one last point, Dorey said ”CICA wants to act responsibly, but there are beach front owners who may act on their own.” He told council there will be another public meeting in March.
Cottage owner Mark Lindsay spoke next and confirmed he is one of those owners who will take matters into his own hands if necessary. He said he understands there is some talking being done by local and upper tier governments, “But talking and doing are two different things. The beach is the number one priority for everyone involved. The municipality is doing nothing. The OPP is doing nothing. If you don’t replace the safety measures, we will have to do it ourselves and if something happens the mud will be on the your hands. As more people come back (for the summer season) the more this will escalate,” he said.
In letters to the local council and upper tier governments, homeowners heeded warnings about doing nothing.
“…I believe the East and Centre Ipperwash Beach property owners as a group would like to see the municipal vehicle barriers replaced now; while talks are underway. The longer it takes for replacement of the barriers the greater the risk to the environment and the greater the chance that some accident or injury will occur as a result of vehicles on the beach. Delaying this action until a resolution is found is not an option. Ontario has a poor track record for coming to timely resolution around its issues with First Nations. As we await this outcome public safety must be ensured; damage to this sensitive natural environment prevented; and the tourism values of the beach protected,” said Ann Collins in her letter.
Sandra Marshall wrote to mayor Weber and council a history of the beach location since the early 1930s. She said by 2014 the overall quality of the beach had deteriorated dramatically . “There were more days with the “black stuff”, driftwood, wood chips, dead fish and birds that had been evident in former years. “We are a tourist area. We have always been a tourist area. Some of our livelihoods depend on tourist dollars. Do I agree that the beach should be closed to traffic? Yes. Do I believe there should be a ban on all motorized vehicles? No.”
She explained her family has a member who uses a wheelchair and they access the lakefront via a golf cart. This cart is also used to transport the property owner who has COPD.
“If council is to consider regulations banning vehicular traffic on all Lambton Shores beaches, be prepared to open up a can of worms.”
Stacey Dimmer wrote to David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Premier Kathleen Wynne in part, “Psychology 101 dictates that this “non-action” by the elected officials will only escalate frustrations and tensions which could foster endless negative outcomes and take Native relations back 100 years. For the last 43 years, even in the midst of the Camp Ipperwash incident, everyone co-existed with minimal animosity and a great amount of mutual respect. With the unilateral move by Chief Bressette (and the “it’s not my job” from elected officials) the stage is being set for negative outcomes. Unfortunately, logic dictates–since December 5, 2014 that non-action/comment by officials is meaning they support these actions.