Letter: Attorney General from Monte McNaughton
February 4, 2015
The Hon. Madeleine Meilleur
Attorney General of Ontario
11th Floor, 720 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2S9
Re : Ipperwash Beach
Dear Attorney General,
On the morning of December 5th my office communicated with your office by means of a voice message informing you of a situation then currently taking place at Ipperwash Beach in the Municipality of Lambton Shores in my constituency of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex. The message was that members of the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation were preparing to demolish certain barriers and gates which, for the past forty-two years, have restricted vehicular access to Centre Ipperwash Beach. The demolition was completed later that morning and was witnessed by, amongst others, members of the Ontario Provincial Police.
The four barriers and gates had been erected on the boundaries of property owned by the Municipality of Lambton Shores (the road allowances) and property privately owned by various title holders. The purpose of the barriers was to keep the beach safe for pedestrians, and to preserve an environmentally sensitive area. Signage erected by an association of cottagers at Ipperwash indicating, inter alia, that beach use by the public would be at one’s own risk, was also removed on December 5th.
Property owners at Ipperwash hold title deeds that describe the ownership of their properties as running “to the water’s edge.” Furthermore, as a result of a drowning in 2003 by a member of the public, cottagers at Ipperwash were sued for their liability in the accidental death (Court file # 43678/04). The statement of claim listed several instances of inadequate signage to warn of dangers and hazards associated with use of the beach. While the suit was settled before the court date in 2004 the upshot has been that the Ipperwash cottagers have been forcibly reminded that their liability also runs to the water’s edge. Many Ipperwash cottagers believe that if the barriers to vehicular traffic are not replaced they will find themselves further liable for possible accidents between motorized vehicles and pedestrians.
My question, Attorney General, has to do with the enforcement of law and the protection of private property. Should the demolished barriers and gates be re-erected, either by the Municipality of Lambton Shores or by individual property owners, will you instruct the Ontario Provincial Police to protect these installations from a repeated instance of vandalism and theft ?
Your office found it unnecessary to respond to the warning from my office on the morning of December 5th. I trust that this letter will be afforded a speedy response.
Monte McNaughton MPP
cc. the Hon David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
Sylvia Jones MPP, opposition critic – Attorney General
Norm Miller MPP, Opposition critic – Aboriginal Affairs