Residents being threatened at Ipperwash beach, says council member

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IPPERWASH BEACH
Credits: LINDA HILLMAN-RAPLEY/ LAKESHORE ADVANCE/QMI Agency

LINDA HILLMAN-RAPLEY | LAKESHORE ADVANCE

Lambton Shores mayor Bill Weber is disappointed that Kettle and Stony Point chief Tom Bressette did not come to the municipality before taking down the barricades from West Ipperwash to the Ipperwash Provincial Park.

Residents are up in arms as the band is making significant changes to the beach access.

MP Bev Shipley, MPP Monte McNaughton, Ministry of Indian Affairs has been contacted and the OPP have been on site. The local residents want to know what is being done.

Ward councilor Gerry Rupke said over the weekend, things got worse.

“We are being threatened and municipal property is being damaged,” he told the Lakeshore Advance.

He explained that the portion of land in question, the beachfront, was never part of any treaty.

“This land was ceded as part of the 1827 Huron Tract. This portion of the beach has never been closed to pedestrian traffic,” explained Rupke, adding the barricades were being re-installed by the homeowners on the weekend.

Eugene Dorey, head of the Centre Ipperwash Community Association, said the barriers prevented people from driving on the popular beach.

“We’ve just regressed to having cars driving up and down the beach with children playing,” he said. “It’s a very big safety concern.”

Mike Huybers, a 30-year cottager, said it wasn’t a coincidence the barriers were taken down Friday.

“I think if they did it in the summertime, there would have been enough cottage owners around there would have been an uprising.”

Another resident told the Lakeshore Advance, “We are not putting up with this. This is not about race; this is not about your land or our land. This is about the environment and the future of our Great Lakes. This is about safety and doing what’s right.”

The resident, who states her 1898 home is deeded to the water’s edge, can’t understand why the federal and provincial government are not backing them up.

“What can we do?” asked a frustrated Weber. He added Lambton Shores owns the right of ways but that an investigation into ‘who owns what’ is being done.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and some private property owners own some land but Bressette says it is treaty right property. He says the 1927 treaty is fair.

“Access to the historical trail along the beach between the two communities of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation have been opened to the public once again,” said Bressette.

He said improved accessibility to all sections of the Ipperwash beach had been a part of the go forward plans for the Ipperwash Beach Management Strategy which began to be implemented in May when paid parking was introduced by the band and west Ipperwash property owners.

The municipality was made aware of Bressette’s plans Thursday evening.

The mayor, municipal staff, members of the Ipperwash Beach Associations, and local council members were on site on Friday and over the weekend.

The mayor said these actions affect the entire community and will affect economic development. He said relations with First Nations people become strained when this type of thing occurs.

Another issue, the mayor said, was that cars being allowed on the beach causes all sorts of issues including the environmental risks of gas and oil, plus dangerous situations arise when speeding cars mix with people and children on the beach.

“There are so many issues here,” said Weber, adding he wants the federal and provincial governments to “step up.”

via Toronto Sun News

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