Public safety, liability, environmental impact continue to be issues pushed by Ipperwash residents
Monday, January 26, 2015 2:58:41 EST PM
Another barrier for the residents at Centre Ipperwash seems to be the lack of information from upper tier governments regarding the barriers that were removed from the beach.
Public safety, liability, environmental impact are the continue to be the key concerns.
In early December Kettle and Stony Point Chief Tom Bressette had the beach front barriers removed stating the beach-front was a trail; connecting path and later a road used by the people of Kettle and Stony Point. This travel route was an easier access to other lands around and adjacent to Kettle and Stony Point. Since 1972, no vehicular traffic has been permitted on this beach for safety and environmental reasons.
At the municipal level a by-law was proposed in December to restrict vehicles on all Lambton Shores beaches. The residents thought they would have a resolution regarding this after last Friday’s private meeting with members of Ontario Aboriginal Affairs, the municipality and Bressette.
After Friday’s meeting Mayor Weber told the Lakeshore Advance, “ We are committed to continue discussion and it became evident the Centre Ipperwash Community Association, the Ministry of Natural Resources and St Clair Conservation authority need to be included at the resolutions table. An expanded Beach use strategy and further meetings are planned going forward with two more meetings in February”
Resident Mark Lindsay who has been vocal on this issue since the barricades came down told Weber in a letter, “(Having these people at the table) has been evident to us along. This is not news to us.” He went on to say, “As taxpayers of Lambton Shores I feel we are entitled to a few answers as to what the Aboriginal Affairs findings are in regard to property rights. I am sure more was discussed at the this meeting than we all need to be involved.”
CENTRE IPPERWASH COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
A letter from Centre Ipperwash Community Association (CICA) to the Ministry of the Natural Resources asked,”Will driving and parking on the beach have a negative environmental impact?”
“Vehicles will impact the invertebrate population due to crushing them in the compacted sand under the vehicles wheels ,and thus have a negative impact on the entire food chain, including species at risk, because of a reduced food supply?
The food chain may also be impacted by the lubricants dropped on the sand by the vehicles. Species at risk habitat would also be impacted by the loss of fore dune area by the vehicle damaging the dune grass. As the dune grass retreats the fore dunes will pull back reducing the habitat for endangered species, and reducing the protection from erosion due to wave action. If your position is to let the cars on the beach and see if there is an impact, why not just go and look at West Ipperwash beach where cars do drive on the beach and see the environmental disaster there. (no fore dune for protection or habitat),” concluded the letter in part.
FROM THE RESIDENTS
Dr. Delf Dodge’s letter to Aboriginal Affairs minister David Zimmer that reads, “I am a property owner… our family is distressed by the recent removal of the vehicle barriers. this creates issues for us on several fronts.”
She says, “I remember vividly when my cousin, while playing along the beach, was struck by a car and rushed to the hospital to spend the rest of her summer in traction in an effort to heal a badly shattered leg. adding moving vehicles to the mix of beach chairs, children, and sand castles can result in only bad things happening.” From safety she goes to environment stating,
“The impact of motor vehicles on sensitive dunes and shores cannot be overestimated. The microbes that attract birds and sustain fishes are within the sands along the shore. compacting the shore sands makes it impossible for the micro organisms to survive, removing the food source, changing the delicate balance of the natural system. This is a declared area of environmental sensitivity. it requires thoughtful stewardship.”
Regarding liability Dr. Dodge says, “Should there be vehicles driving the beach, on my land or my neighbors’, who will set and enforce speed limits? Who will arrest people driving irresponsibly? Under the influence of alcohol? who will be held responsible for those who cannot control themselves or their vehicles? Am I to assume responsibility for the actions and misdeeds of people i do not know, who happen to be on my land without my permission, doing things of which I do not approve?”
Owner of many Ipperwash beach-front properties Blayne Collins has also sent numerous letters to Lambton Shores mayor and CAO as well as the MPP and Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.
“Owning substantial beach-front, down to the water’s edge, I am very concerned and distressed at the removal of the vehicle barriers along the length of Ipperwash Beach. My concerns relate to safety issues of cars on the beach (no ability on private property to enforce speed limits, Driving Under the Influence issues etc.), the liability I am exposed to as a property owner, and the environmental impact of motorized vehicles on the beach and foreshore dune area (an environmentally sensitive area and designated Area of Scientific and Natural Interest).”
Collins states, “Our family has owned these properties for over 100 years and never in that time have we prevented the First Nation or the public from using the beach that fronts our properties. I wouldn’t want to be the first generation that felt compelled to do just that for public and personal safety, landowner liability, and environmental protection.”
Lambton Kent Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton’s constituency assistant John Fraser responded to Collins stating,
“Allow me to assure you that Monte has been working on the Ipperwash issue since December 4th when the Mayor of Lambton Shores sent him a copy of a letter from Chief Bressette to the mayor indicating that members of the Kettle and Stoney Point bands intended to take down the traffic barriers on Ipperwash beach the following day. On the morning of December 5th Monte contacted the office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs to draw the attention of the minister to the matter. Monte’s office also contacted the office of the Attorney-General. Monte was in telephone contact with Mayor Weber at least once a day between December 4th and December 8th. He has also spoken to Mr. Bev Shipley M.P. with regard to the Ipperwash matter. On December 9th Monte requested a meeting with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. I believe two or three meetings or calls between Monte and the minister occurred in the course of that week.”
“A meeting took place December 12th between Mayor Weber, Chief Bressette, and the Mr. Didluck, Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. Monte’s office was represented at this meeting. A meeting is being held later this week at which the ADM is expected to tell us what progress he has made in discussions with officials. I rather suspect that we will continue to hear nothing from either the Attorney-General or the OPP.”
“While he awaits some answers from the minister Monte is desirous that emotions be kept calm.”
In a letter to Lambton Kent Middlesex MP Bev Shipley resident Bernie Welfred wrote, “With your continued submission that the Federal Government shouldn’t be involved, I would assume means that the Federal Government looked at the issue and found that there was no Federal Native land claims or of course you would be involved. Please confirm this to me.” He sent along a six page document Investigation and Findings Report from the Ipperwash Inquiry ” with an asterisk before each paragraph that suggests the Federal Government involvement.”
Collins concluded in her correspondence to all levels of government, “I will continue to pressure all levels of government to have the vehicle barriers re-installed while discussions take place. I think every level of government is naive to expect property owners to show patience and to remain calm in the absence of an effective interim jurisdictional plan and absence of information regarding progress toward a resolution.”
She continues, “The solution to this issue lies with the classification of the beach and fortunes as an environmentally sensitive area and designated Area of Scientific and Natural Interest. This classification alone should be reason enough for all parties to agree to reinstalling the barriers while talks continue.”