AN OPEN LETTER FROM SAVE THE BEACHES TO OUR READERS (Fall 2004):
Save the Beaches held our Annual General Meeting in August, 2004. We thank those who attended and those who have taken an interest in offering their support and assistance.
We are proud to announce the recent launching of our website: www.savethebeaches.ca We will be using this important tool to communicate with our members. We can be contacted through e-mail (see Contact section on website), or by writing to Save the Beaches Inc., c/o 597 Tiny Beaches Rd. N, R.R. 1, Perkinsfield, ON L0L 2J0.
As you are probably aware, the mediation process was recently adjourned. We are awaiting news from the Attorney General of Ontario, as to how the government will proceed on this matter.
Save the Beaches has remained steadfast in its position and goal to protect the rights of the public to traditional use and access to Tiny’s beaches. We have a very dedicated group of Directors, and members who have volunteered their valuable time to assist us.
Save the Beaches has been the focus of recent articles in the Tiny Ties, which is published by Tiny’s Residents Working Together (T.R.W.T.), and the Tiny Cottager, published by the Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Association (F.o.T.T.S.A.). These articles have unfortunately been used to try to discredit our association, and since Save the Beaches was not approached or questioned by these organizations in reference to the articles written, we feel it is necessary to respond through the use of more responsible community-minded media resources of our community.
The Fall issue of the Tiny Cottager, (published by F.o.T.T.S.A.), contains an article entitled - “How Not to Save A Beach”. Contained within this article are boxed quotes by Save the Beaches. The quotes within the article have been used to associate Save the Beaches with an incident which took place at the Nottawaga Beach, located at Concession 13 in Tiny Township.
Save the Beaches had no knowledge of this event until after it took place. The knowledge we have obtained from those who participated is quite contrary to what has been reported in the Tiny Cottager. To our knowledge, a group of back lot cottagers/residents of this area, (which included children and grandparents), who have traditionally used this beach area, participated in a beach clean up pulling weeds and raking on the beach close to the water’s edge, just as the picture from The Tiny Cottager portrays. There apparently were some verbal confrontations on the part of both sides.
The police attended the incident, but no charges have been laid. The police report contains only a complaint about weed pulling on the beach. No assaults, verbal abuse, or forensic examinations are mentioned in the police report. This can be verified by Sgt. Skinner, of the Southern Georgian Bay OPP detachment, in Midland.
The lack of journalistic integrity exploited in this story by the Tiny Cottager only exacerbates the divisiveness and tensions which exist within the Tiny community.
The Fall issue of The Tiny Ties, has entitled their article - “Save the Beaches Fact or Fiction”, quite an interesting title, considering the content. In the article T.R.W.T. falsely implies that Save the Beaches was NOT involved in mediation from the onset and throughout. Save the Beaches did not at any time quit the mediation as T.R.W.T. suggests.
Save the Beaches clarifies...There was at one point some confusion, which was immediately addressed with the Mediator, Paul Torrie. In 2002, Save the Beaches communicated to the mediator that we felt we were being left out of the mediation process. At this time, a letter was written by our Pro-Bono Legal Counsel, using the word “resume”. The matter was verbally cleared up with Mr. Torrie and his associate, James McKenzie, and a further letter was written by our Counsel. The following is an excerpt from this letter, dated Oct. 7, 2002. “In my letter of July 5th, I should have said that Save the Beaches was prepared to continue with mediation, not “resume”. At no time did Save the Beaches feel that it had discontinued participation in the process. I reiterate, the feeling was that we were being left out of the process.”
We believed that this matter had been resolved, but the rhetoric has continually been repeated by George Lawrence, President of T.R.W.T, The Tiny Ties, Mayor Klug and others. Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Klug and others have had this verified on several occasions. Save the Beaches invited T.R.W.T. to meet on several to discern any misconceptions they might have about Save the Beaches, but our invitations were refused, not only by Mr. Lawrence, but by other Directors of his association. Save the Beaches also wrote to T.R.W.T. in December, 2002, asking for a retraction of misinformation and discrediting information contained within a Newsletter which was mailed out to Tiny residents at that time. No retraction was made by T.R.W.T. – as T.R.W.T. states in it’s article...Silence is Golden.
In it’s article, Tiny Ties uses a quote made by Save the Beaches, in October 2003...“Save the Beaches has been in a ‘ceasefire’ position since mediation began. We refrained from holding media blitzes and protests.” T.R.W.T. claim in the Tiny Ties article, “Another one of STB’s ridiculous statements.” T.R.W.T. does not substantiate their claim any further.
Save the Beaches clarifies...up until the time this statement was written, there were no media blitzes, or protests held by Save the Beaches.
Save the Beaches clarifies...that we communicated through the press to ask our membership and interested parties to review mediation reports and forward concerns and comments to us. We believe communication is of utmost importance and we have tried to use the media where possible to keeps the lines of communication open, and to keep our membership informed about matters pertaining to Tiny beaches.
Save the Beaches continually shared concerns with the Mediator and with Tiny Council about actions being taken by waterfront and Council (i.e. more restrictive parking policies, fences, locked gates, signs delineating beach ownership, boulders placed at walkways), throughout the mediation process. We do not believe all parties were acting in good faith during mediation and requested a return to the status quo that existed prior to mediation. We were concerned that traditional use was being altered. The Mediator, Paul Torrie was made well aware of the Save the Beaches position that we would not give up our rights before a ‘ceasefire’ began. It is our belief that ‘walk only’ was not a ‘ceasefire’, but a gross reduction of rights or a surrender of already existing rights.
T.R.W.T. writes in Tiny Ties, “We do not support the public at large invading Tiny Beaches, en masse, inflicting considerable financial hardship on its residents and putting intense pressure on the environmentally fragile state of our beaches”.
Save the Beaches feel that it is necessary to preserve the rights of the public, while protecting the rights of Tiny residents. We do not believe non-Tiny residents should be discriminated against, nor do we support exclusivity of Tiny’s beaches for Tiny residents only. We believe that access to our beaches can be minimized through a fair parking plan, similar to what existed prior to mediation, with combined permit and open parking – in other words status quo that existed prior to mediation.
In 1999, George Lawrence, President of T.R.W.T. met with the Attorney General, along side of Kathy Speers, President of Save the Beaches, and Rod Ferguson, Pro-Bono Legal Counsel for Save the Beaches. Save the Beaches has in their possession a copy of the T.R.W.T. Executive summary used by Mr. Lawrence during his presentation to the Attorney General.
The T.R.W.T. Executive Summary states, in part, the following...
“The ‘traditional use’ of Tiny Beaches over many decades is being threatened. This impacts backlot, shoreline owners, inland residents, neighbours from adjacent communities, daytrippers and local businesses.”
“The community is becoming more polarized with pockets of waterfront owners pitted against their neighbours. The time for action in diffusing this ticking time bomb is NOW...concerned residents of Tiny look to the Provincial Government to provide the leadership as “guardians of the public interest”.
“EXCLUSIVE USE OF PRIVATELY OWNED BEACHES...
A small number of militant waterfront owners have a systematic plan to deny access to traditionally owned beaches not owned by the municipality. Their primary goal is to claim ownership of the beach block area between their deed property line (typically the high watermark) and the water’s edge. This will then provide support for their contention that the beach block is for their exclusive use.”
“COUNCIL REDUCES PARKING CAPABILITY...
...recommendation has resulted in a drastic reduction of parking availability across the Township. There has been a significant negative reactions from many residents of Tiny and neighbours of adjacent communities.”
Save the Beaches asks T.R.W.T. – why has T.R.W.T. abandoned it’s own course? If they do not support the “public at large invading Tiny Township”, then why did Mr. Lawrence ask the Attorney General for assistance? This is not a municipal matter – the rights of everyone are at stake. Tiny Beaches are not now, nor have they ever been, for the exclusive use of Tiny residents.
In March, 2004, the Mediator wrote to Save the Beaches...”the ceasefire proposal, when read and interpreted in its totality was then and remains today, the only framework for negotiation and problem solving that addresses the interests of all in the mediation process”. Save the Beaches, replied to the mediator, March, 2004, “Save the Beaches believes that there is another framework upon which to build consensus, through a beach management agreement forgoing the ‘walk only’.”
Save the Beaches remains of the opinion that it was unrealistic to expect us to relinquish our traditional rights, enjoyed over the past century before beginning to negotiate. At our General meeting our members were asked to Take a Stand; it was suggested that they write to Tiny Council and to the Attorney General to put them on notice that we will continue traditional use and access to the beaches of Tiny Township. It was also suggested that people record their history of Tiny Beach use through an affidavit and forward a copy to Save the Beaches.
On October 9, 2004, Save the Beaches notified both Tiny Council and the Attorney General that our members will not relinquish their rights to the unfettered traditional use and access of our beaches. We believe it is the responsibility of our Township Council and the Attorney General to protect the rights of the public. We believe that the Attorney General has the power to assert a declaration of public use, through the use of the Grand Bend Court of Appeal decision.
Save the Beaches has brought forward concerns throughout the mediation process. Since mediation, Beach Blocks have been purchased by Beach Associations. More recently, applications have been made by shoreline property owners to the Committee of Adjustment and through the Ministry of Consumers and Business Services, Title and Survey Services Office for Absolute Title of the beach area in front of shoreline properties. During mediation many shoreline property owners have surveyed over lot lines and registered the beach area on their property deeds.
T.R.W.T. and Tiny Cottager could have used their publications to notify the residents of Tiny residents of such matters instead of trying to discredit Save the Beaches and repeating their Wasaga North rhetoric. The word ‘public’ is paramount to protecting the rights of everyone who has traditionally used the beaches of Tiny...if the word, ‘public’ is taken away, then we will have lost the resources of the Ontario government to assist us protecting our traditional rights. Please continue to use our beaches. Please Take A Stand Protect your rights. Participate. Your voice is needed
Thank you from the Directors of Save the Beaches.