Paid parking at Ipperwash begins

By Lynda Hillman-Rapley, QMI Agency
By Lynda Hillman-Rapley, QMI Agency

Paid parking will greet visitors to west Ipperwash Beach this weekend.

On Friday there will be a celebratory event being held near Ipperwash Park marking the progress of the park transfer to Kettle Stoney Point First Nations.

Chief Tom Bressette said Friday’s transfer progress event will also include an announcement that there will be paid parking beginning this weekend for the beach that is jointly owned by Kettle and Stony Point and the West Ipperwash Property owners.

The association representing property owners at West Ipperwash Beach is on board with a proposal to introduce pay for parking. The plan calls for a toll booth on the beach just to the west of the municipal road allowance running from the Points Preference plaza to the beach on the east side of the Kettle Point Reserve.

There may be a second tollbooth at the far west entrance to the drive on beach.

The plan began last spring with the West Ipperwash property owners and the Kettle Stony Point band, to introduce tolls, better security, washrooms and garbage cans at the beach.

The popular beach allows parking by the water and is often riddled with garbage and pollution, visitors and locals have said.

Signs went up last year, alerting people about bans on motor homes and fires at the privately owned beach.

The association was hoping for co-operation from Lambton Shores for help with things like putting up no parking signs on access roads. The municipality was not willing to pay out taxpayer dollars or liability for a beach that was not theirs.

At a meeting last year Chief Tom Bressette said they don’t need municipal authorization to go ahead with their plan.

According to pamphlets that Kettle and Stony Point members handed out to beach-goers last year, fees would come into effect between the Victoria Day long weekend and Labour Day.

The rates have yet to be determined. Money generated from parking fees will go to building projects like permanent washrooms, installing gates and entrances, the association members said.

Members of the homeowners association and the First Nation will not have to pay.

As for the event, there will not be any provincial or federal politicians on hand. The event was planned before the provincial writ was dropped May 2.

The May 16 event is slated to happen on MNR land (at the large parking lot) south of the park and not at the park. Bressette said although the park has been decommissioned- the province does not want people inside the park as it has not gone through an environment assessment and is not ready for the public.

A letter dated April 10 invites people to an event primarily focused on the efforts of the province and the First Nations for a successful transfer of the Ipperwash Park to the First Nations.

Bressette said they are waiting for the transfer and hope to also co-manage the Crown lands that are the parking lot comfort stations as part of the transfer of the park. He said the province has no funding for the parking lots now and with their help, they will be better operated.

“We just want to advance forward,” Bressette said adding that they are working with the municipality for a common goal of economic growth. He said their focus is on the recommendations that should have already come from the 2007 Ipperwash Inquiry.

In June 2009, the former Ipperwash Provincial Park control, once part of the Stoney Point reserve, was formally transferred during a celebrated ceremony at the park, near the site where protester Dudley George was killed Labour Day weekend 1995. The park has been closed since that time.

In 1929, 337 acres of land from the reserve were sold to private stakeholders. In the 1930s there was a public outcry for a park and the province bought 109 of these acres that became Ipperwash Park in 1936. On Sept. 5, 1995, after the vacationers left for the season, native protesters, including Dudley George began an occupation claiming a burial ground. During the skirmish George was killed and the park has remained closed since. There has never been an official land claim on this piece of property.

via Sarnia Observer