Great day for MPP Gates and for Shorewalk!
Before he was elected MPP Wayne Gates assured Shorewalk that he would support their proposed Right of Passage Act and he has come through with flying colours. In a few short days at Queen's Park he not only got first reading of the act approved but followed up with a powerful and persuasive presentation that was strongly supported by the legislature. Second reading was passed and the act now goes to committee and public hearings.
What would Right of Passage mean for Ontario? If passed the public would be assured of the right to walk all of our Great Lakes thousands of kilometres of shoreline free of any obstruction. At the same time it would not allow the public to “put down a blanket”. Private property right are not challenged.
Mr. Gates expressed the widely held opinion that public access must be advanced but concluded by pointing out the need for engagement and compromise.
For Shorewalk and its thousands of members and supporters across the province this is the high point so far of our 10 years of advocacy!
Betty Vanosch, Shorewalk President
Steven Passero, past president
Garry Skerrett, founding president
Shorewalk Reasons for Supporting the Holloway Bay Proposal
Feb. 9, 2015 - Garry Skerrett
Good evening Mayor Redekop, Regional Councillor Annunziata,Councillors Knutt, Butler McDermott, Lubberts, Zanko, Mr. Kuchyt, Ms. Hansen, Mr. Brady and Staff.
I am here on behalf of the Ontario Shorewalk Association and its many Fort Erie members and supporters. Our association's goal is to achieve public walking rights, Right of Passage, on all of Ontario's Great Lakes Shores and to ensure access via road allowances and parkland in order get to our shores.At your recent Capital Budget Meeting the proposed budget of $200,000 to develop the Holloway Bay road allowance to Lake Erie was removed. We were deeply disappointed by the vote to remove this important project from the budget and are here to ask you to reconsider and reinstate it.I note from your staff's research that 97% of Fort Erie Lake Erie shore is privately owned and inaccessible to the public. At the same time it is frequently acknowledged that our Lake Erie shoreline is the town's most valuable natural asset. Isn't it ironic? All that great waterfront but only 3% publicly available.We are all aware that beyond the Point Abino gate westward to the Port Colborne boundary we have virtual 100% inaccessibility. That would be changed if we got shoreline access with the Holloway Bay Project which calls for a boardwalk and stairs over the approaches to a beautiful sand beach. The stairs and boardwalk would protect the sand hills and unique Carolinian forest which is an extension of Marcy Woods. This project would have no negative environmental impact and signage on the walkway would enhance our appreciation of this wonderful biodiversity and in itself be an attraction.
Why then strike it from the budget?
The cost to tax payers ostensibly makes the project prohibitive but in this case that argument seems to go against the facts as we understand them... CLICK HERE to read the entire article
Mayors Martin and Redekop - Circa. Nov. 2006 as they unveil the Shorewalk promoted welcome sign at Centralia
Beach. This suggests long-time support of Shorewalk by Mayors and Councils.
GATES TO INTRODUCE SHOREWALK BILL
The Ontario Shorewalk Association continues their crusade for public walking rights on Ontario's Great Lakes shoreline with the help of MPP Wayne Gates, who will introduce a private member's bill on the Right of Passage Act in May 2015. The first reading will likely pass with little or no opposition and second reading should follow, hopefully, within a few months.
Gates, current MPP and critic of Economic Development and Employment has proven himself a welcome and much-needed supporter of Shorewalk's nine year effort to turn proposed legislation into Ontario law.
Shorewalk President Betty VanOsch and founder Garry Skerrett met with Gates recently at his Fort Erie Constituency Office. He reaffirmed his strong support for moving forward with the private member's bill, and most encouragingly, echoed his optimism regarding its chances of success.
Fort Erie residents and visitors alike have supported past efforts to improve waterfront access on public land and road allowances, remove or minimize fences and other obstructions, survey and clearly identify public lands and eliminate encroachments.
“It is unjust that Ontario's public does not have legal access to over 90% of out provinces Great Lakes shorelines,” Skerrett said. “We will continue to advocate for the right to walk along our shores with no obstruction or harassment.”
SHOREWALK SPEAKS TO "STRONG SUPPORTER
FORT ERIE TIMES July 2014
On June 29th Paul Baines met with Shorewalk president Betty Van Osch and myself to exchange ideas on how we can interact with his Great Lakes Commons network.
He has developed a very useful website at www.greatlakescommons.org which facilitates public input and access to Great Lakes issues.
Just connect to his website and dozens of Great Lakes posted articles can be accessed. Paul is always open to your posts on Great Lakes issues.
The Great Lakes Commons concept was first used by Maud Barlow and the Council of Canadians to express the vital public need of access to this wonderful freshwater treasure. Only through public access to our shores will we ever fully appreciate their importance to us.
The concept of a Great Lakes Commons is closely tied to a legal concept enshrined in British and now North American common law; namely the Public Trust Doctrine.
As it name implies, it is the long established legal concept of a true and legitimate public interest in a country's land and water assets.
The Public Trust Doctrine was successfully argued in the Michigan Great Lakes Right of Passage case in which their state supreme court held that the public has a right to walk all their shoreline.
Paul Baines, like Maud Barlow, views the Great Lakes as a vital asset for all citizens that must be preserved and protected.
Shorewalk's Great Lakes Right of Passage would foster a deeper and wider appreciation of the value of the Great Lakes to us all.
When we achieve this right to walk our fence free shores we will be building on the call for a Great Lakes Commons.
We urge you to join Shorewalk via our website and to check out Paul Baines' website.
Check out the video that was done at Crystal Beach Waterfront Park on Sunday June 29th. It is under Stories, "Walking the Shoreline, or Not".
Thank you, Garry Skerrett, Shorewalk founder (2005)
Wayne Gates Ready To Advance Right of Passage Bill
FORT ERIE TIMES June 2014
Shorewalk recently got very good news!. Wayne Gates has pledged to work, if re-elected, on a bill to ensure public walking rights on Ontario's Great Lakes shoreline. If successful in the legislature the Right of Passage Act would have these features:
- removal of shoreline fences and any other obstructions to the public's right to walk our shores
- walking rights on all shoreline between the water's edge and the high water mark
Waterfront property owners would have these guarantees:
- public access to the shore only via public lands such as parks and road allowances
- no challenge to property ownership or use of beach front other than shoreline walking
The Ontario Shorewalk Association has been promoting this Right of Passage Act for the past 9 years with mixed success. During that time former MPP Kim Craitor introduced our Right of Passage Bill in the Ontario legislature 4 times. It seemed to have good support and little opposition but delays sidetracked his efforts.
Our new MPP Wayne Gates has carefully examined the issue since taking office and recognizes the injustice of having about 90% of our Great Lakes shoreline off limit to us. He pledges to set to work immediately on this issue if re-elected.
OTHER SHOREWALK NEWS
Shorewalk president Betty Van Osch continues to work with Fort Erie council and staff on the Waverly Beach access roads; Pierce, Rose, and Beachview. The Town's budget for 2014 includes funds for removal of obstructions and enhancement of these public walkways to Lake Erie.
Want to register support for Right of Passage? Follow the links from our this website for the change.org petition to Kathleen Winn, Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath
Shorewalk's annual meeting is set for TUESDAY, JUNE 24, at CRYSTAL RIDGE LIBRARY at 7.00 p.m. New members most welcome-we need you!
We are developing an Advisory Council which will include supporting members and organizations
from across the province.
On The Waterfont
FORT ERIE TIMES 5-8-14
A legal decision in Michigan in July of 2005 could have a big influence on our Great Lakes shoreline access in Ontario. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that there could be no fences on any of that state's 5,000 km of Great Lakes shoreline. Further, they ruled that the public had walking rights (Right of Passage) on all of their shores on Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie. The decision was later affirmed by the US Supreme Court. CLICK HERE to read article
April 2014 Update
The September 2013 resignation of former MPP Kim Craitor was a setback for Shorewalk. Kim's efforts to get a Right of Passage Bill passed in the Ontario legislature has been a cornerstone of our initiatives since 2005.
We have, however, been heartened by our new MPP for Niagara, Wayne Gates and his assurances that he will support our public interest agenda.
Current president Betty Van Osch and Founder Garry Skerrett recently met with MPP Gates and Kim Craitor who continues to support the fight for public waterfront walking rights. MPP Gates also agreed to approach NDP party leader Andrea Horwath asking for her support for public Right of Passage on Ontario's Great Lake’s shores.
Locally, the Shorewalk membership is heartened by the municipal council's unanimous support of staff initiatives to improve waterfront access, particularly along the Waverly Beach road allowances. Work will begin on 3 road allowances, Pierce, Beachview and Rose, in the Spring – and these improvements will further improve the public’s ability to utilize these public right of ways and waterfront access. Betty continues to work with town staff in support of their efforts to improve public access.
The public are truly fortunate to have our newly elected MPP Wayne Gates ready to take up this fight for public walking rights on our shores. How can it be that here and throughout Ontario the public has no access to over 90% of our Great Lakes shores?
Garry Skerrett, Shorewalk founder
Resignation of Kim Craitor
Shorewalk supporters were shocked & discouraged to learn that MPP Kim Craitor had resigned from the Ontario Legislature.
Mr. Craitor has been one of our strongest allies and a good friend as well.
His willingness to present our concerns for the public's inability to access over 90% of Ontario's Great Lakes shoreline reflected his own strong feeling that this is a social injustice that warrants a legislative remedy.
Even though his private member's bill seemed to have good party support across the legislative floor, time ran out before the Right of Passage could be passed.
Is this the end of Shorewalk's campaign to provide public walking rights on all of our Great Lakes shoreline?
Not At All!!
We have endorsements from Great Lakes mayors via the Great Lakes & St Lawrence Cities initiative, as well as endorsements and support from the Regional Municipality of Niagara and several lakeshore communities and like-minded organizations.
We are, at the present time, petitioning Premier Wynne's government, as well as the oppositions parties, to enact legislation which will give the public the right to walk the shores of our Great Lakes.
We wish Kim and his family the very best and will never forget the effort he put forth on this issue for the benefit of all of us in Ontario.
Looking out at Lake Erie
I'm sitting on a park bench on Waverly Beach in the Town of Fort Erie looking out at Lake Erie.
I am watching people of all ages, walking, running, biking, roller blading along the Friendship Trail which runs along the waterfront. I thought to myself how lucky I was to live near the Lake, to be able to sit and enjoy the beauty, the tranquility the water has to offer.
I thought of the responsibility of these people as they were using the trail, walking along the shoreline of any body of water. You must use common sense.
You shouldn't litter or physically disturb any wildlife you come across, you shouldn't be uprooting or pulling up plants, just enjoy what nature has put there over the years.
Recycle has become such a vital part of our everyday life & this definitely pertains to the Great Lakes & the land that surround them. Not just for the vegetation & the wildlife that live in and around the Lakes but for man as well, who depends on the fresh water that comes from the Great Lakes.
RESPECT!! - that is what all of this boils down to. You should be treating the shoreline like it was your own property.
You will always have that 1% that will do anything they please without regard to anyone else but that other 99% are respectful, hard-working people who genuinely appreciate what they have been lucky to be surrounded by and will do their upmost to see that things stay that way so future generations can enjoy them as well.
As I look at the date, I realize we are approaching another session of parliament and we still do not have any resolutions to our Right of Passage issues. Why should something that is so simple & straight forward have to be debated too death?
The right to walk along a shoreline up to the high-water mark without barriers or harassments, accessing over public land not thru private property. No parking, just walking along & enjoying the peace & quiet of what you encounter along the way.
I think the only word to describe this would be misconception of what Right of Passage means?
The Right of Passage is only the right to walk along the water up to the high-water mark without barriers or harassment...plain and simple.
Betty Van Osch
Group fights for public access to Ontario beaches
THE TORONTO STAR , Monday, August 12, 2013
An MPP aims to reintroduce a private member's bill that would prevent property owners from blocking access to beaches on Ontario’s Great Lakes
Doug Lorriman looks out the side window of his home in Georgian Bay and can count two fences and seven “no trespassing signs” — all of them intended to block members of the public from using the shoreline in front or behind the homes of several of his neighbours. CLICK HERE to read article
Fight continues for Great Lakes Beach access
CBC RADIO, Monday, August 5, 2013
As the battle for beach access continues in some areas of the province where fences prevent the public from walking the shoreline, so does the fight to enshrine that right in law. Megan Thomas spoke with Gary Skerrett, the founder of a group called the Ontario Shorewalk Association, and Michigan Lawyer James Olsen about the situation south of the border. LISTEN (runs 10:46)
Residents don't want road allowance sold
By Allan Benner, July 13, 2012, Welland Tribune
WAINFLEET - There’s a large sand berm that divides the Carolinian trees from the sandy beach and lakeshore to the south. It’s a pristine park-like setting that holds a great deal of potential.
The beach itself provides a public area where neighbouring residents who don’t own a portion of the sand themselves can relax, and the wooded area holds a great deal of potential, said neighbouring residents like Laurie Dayboll and Phil Bearss.
“It’s a nice shaded spot to stop along the way,” she said.
CLICK HERE to read article
Bill 103... Our best hope.
On June 6th, MPP Kim Craitor re-introduced the "Great Lakes Shoreline Right of Passage Act, 2012, now labelled as BILL 103.
Only amendment to original bill is under 1.2 which now reads
"In this act and the regulations, a reference to the Great Lakes includes the St Lawrence River & the connecting channels of the Great Lakes".
CLICK HERE to view the R of P Act
Support from Niagara At Large
Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com has posted a commentary on the issue of Right of Passage on our lakeshore beaches.
This news & commentary site is prepared to continue supporting this cause so please let your friends & associates know about this post & encourage them to comment on it.
Comments must be accompanied by first & last names.
No trespassing in Port Dover??
Garry Skerrett for Shorewalk, July 2012
It's a popular tourist destination with a welcoming public sand beach as a main attraction. Recently, however, a very unwelcoming situation has developed along Port Dover's Lake Erie shoreline just to the west of town. Summer residents, Freeman Farrington,and Lillian Ruiter have been walking the nearby shores for years with total enjoyment and freedom but that came to an abrupt halt some weeks ago. They must now turn back in the face of posted “No Trespassing” signs along the beach line. Apparently a new neighbouring owner has posted these signs along the beach front.
Freeman and Lillian have now joined Shorewalk in order to support MPP Kim Craitor's Right of Passage Act. It will take some time and patience but we must succeed in gaining what most countries around the world take for granted...the right to walk their shorelines freely and without intimidation.
On Monday, May 21st, 2012, Shorewalk founder Garry Skerrett & president Betty Van Osch met with Kim Craitor MPPat his office in Niagara Falls. They presented him with a plaque expressing their appreciation for the work he has done & continues to do toward public "Right of Passage" on the Great Lakes shoreline.
Plans are being made to re-introduce this bill to the Legislature before the end of the current session.
Cobourg citizens push for public beach access.
May 17, 2012 - Northumberland News
Cobourg Beach Society. COBOURG -- Cobourg Beach Society president Bob Cairns enjoys the beach with his dog Buddy.
The Cobourg Beach Society, a citizens' group, was formed in 2010 in response to concerns over lakefront property owners putting up fences to the waterline and posting of 'No Trespassing' signs on the west beach, starting in 2007, said society president Robert Cairns. Over the past few years, local and out-of-town visitors crossing this area have been harassed, Mr. Cairns said.
"Our goal is creation of a natural pathway along the west beach, below the traditional water line to be regulated, policed and insured by the Town of Cobourg and open to the public," Mr. Cairns told council members at its May 14 meeting. "The Cobourg Beach Society feels that below the traditional waterline, the beach must belong to the citizens of Cobourg."
READ ENTIRE STORY >>
SIGNE HANSON-GUEST SPEAKER
AT SHOREWALK CELEBRATION
It was celebration time for Shorewalk's annual general meeting at The Barrel restaurant on March 24th. Guest speaker Signe Hanson, Fort Erie's head of recreational land use outlined the progress to date on improvements to our waterfront road allowances.
The town has completed surveys and placed permanent line of sight markers which clearly delineate public waterfront lands and has also placed good signage to let the public and visitors know that this is public access to Lake Erie. Also, new signs along the Friendship Trail will point the way to the lake for our trail users and our visitors.
The Town Council and Staff have also initiated a concerted effort to let our public and visitors know of the many access points along our lake shore. In addition to improved signage the town's annual publications and a new website will further inform us and our visitors where lake shore is available.
Ms. Hanson received an appreciation plaque from Shorewalk founder Garry Skerrett who also recognized the efforts of past president Stephen Passero and current president Betty Van Osch.
Ms. Van Osch spoke to the Right of Passage Bill which will be presented to the Ontario Legislature for the third time by MPP Kim Craitor. He is more hopeful than previously since it seems to have some degree of all party support and may be co-sponsored by members of the opposition parties.
The current executive was reaffirmed for the next year. Betty Van Osch will remain as president with VP Mary McLelland-Papp, Secretary Lara Skerrett, Treasurer Doug Taylor, and directors Lisa Ciolfi, Chris Laroque and Garry Skerrett.
Ontario lawmaker wants to legalize
May 31, 2001 - Great Lakes Echo
A bill proposed in Ontario, Canada may let the general public walk along the Great Lakes shoreline instead of just the people who own lakefront property.
Right now they can’t.
Shoreline property owners in Ontario have privileges right down to the lakes.
BILL 103 GETS 2ND READING!
On May 5, 2011 at Queen's Park MPP Kim Craitor presented Bill 103, “The Great Lakes Shoreline Right of Passage Act” to the Legislative Assembly for 2nd reading. He spoke forcibly and at length on the public need for unfettered walking access to our Great Lakes shoreline while indicating clearly that this was not an attack on private property rights. His presentation was met with a very favourable response from MPP's of all three parties and they voted unanimously in favour of Bill 103 proceeeding. The bill was ordered referred to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy.
In his presentation Kim made several references to those of us who had travelled to Queen's Park to support him for this second reading. Shorewalk's supporters included President Betty VanOsch, Cobourg Beach Society President Bob Cairns and from Balm Beach on Georgian Bay President Don D'Aoust of Save the Beaches. Also in our VIP Gallery seats were supporters Sam Sunners, Dr. Derek Beahm, Cathy and Nicole D'Aoust, Paul Kassay, Serena Smith, Amy King and Shorewalk founder Garry Skerrett.
We know that this fight for Right of Passage will carry on to the new government formed after our provincial election this fall. The hope is that the momentum picked up from Kim Craitor's long time advocacy for Right of Passage will bring eventual success.
RIGHT OF PASSAGE BILL ALIVE & WELL
MPP Kim Craitor has informed Shorewalk that the Right of Passage Bill, will get second reading in the provincial legislature in the afternoon of May 5th, 2011.
This means our bill to allow the public unhindered walking rights on Ontario's Great Lakes shores will be debated & put to a vote. If passed, it will be moved to committee for consideration & possible public hearings.
Unfortunately, it will probably not get third & final reading by the time the legislature recesses for the fall election. Never the less, the bill will get much more public exposure & at the very least increase our chances of eventual success.
CAN YOU HELP? BY ALL MEANS.
Send an email expressing your support to Kim at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks Kim for pressing on with Right of Passage.
Remembering Fred Truckenbrodt
One of Shorewalk's very well-respected Founding Members Fred Truckenbrodt, 91 passed away on Friday, Oct 29th from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Fred, like so many of us, loved the beauty & serenity of Lake Erie especially Bay Beach and he was very passionate that everyone have the right to experience & enjoy the amenities that this treasured waterfront has to offer.
Fred will be truly missed. He was one of our greatest treasures.
Walking rights campaigners, property owners settle in
for marathon battle over Ontario's Great Lakes shoreline
Despite a growing campaign pushing for legislation that would give the public the right to walk along the shoreline without being impeded by fences or signs warning “Private Property - No Trespassing,” don’t expect the freedom to stroll now enjoyed in many U.S. Great Lakes communities to happen any time soon in this province.
A provincial government and bureaucracy that are in no rush to take on an issue that is sure to create a political storm are seen as the hurdles that could see this campaign dragging on for many years. READ MORE
Shorewalk urges everyone to attend the Public Planning Meeting being held on January 25th inside council chambers at town hall.
A presentation will be made concerning the rezoning application jointly submitted by the Town of Fort Erie and the Molinaro Group (developer) to permit a Public Private Partnership in the development of the currently town owned Bay Beach properties.
A link to the Town of Fort Erie website provides information concerning the application, and the proposed plans should it be approved as it is currently proposed.
We encourage all Shorewalk members to read the information, draw their own conclusions, and feel free to register as a delegate to speak openly on your feelings towards this proposal. You can also express your sentiments to your local councillor as this decision at the present time is in their hands. Anyone not comfortable with speaking in a public forum can submit their comments in writing to the Town Clerk prior to January 25th... read artical here
Right of Passage
Our association continues to work through the political process by advocating MPP Kim Craitor's Private Members Bill- Right of Passage, a piece of legislation that re-affirms what we believe is the public's right to enjoy the shorelines of our Great Lakes. Here is some brief background on the issue as to why we believe the public has the right to enjoy the shoreline.
In 1911 the Beds of Navigable Waters Act was passed declaring the beds of all navigable waters as public domain. This act was amended in 1940 so as to define “the bed” as extending to the high water mark. The 1940 amendment seemed to re-affirm the long held concept of maintaining navigable shorelines as public domain. It furthermore confirmed our British-French heritage where, in both nations, land to the high water mark is regarded as public domain.
In 1951 an amendment to the Beds of Navigable Waters Act by H.R. Scott, Minister of the Department of Lands and Forests moved their jurisdiction from the high water mark to the low water mark. We view this as an expropriation of thousands of kilometers of our public lakeshore.
The issue of public vs. private has been longstanding, and the issue of the right for all citizens to enjoy the shoreline is being put in the forefront as many waterfront homeowners are constructing fences reaching to the water's edge, no trespassing signs are starting to appear everywhere. Frustration on this issue boiled over in Tiny Township, I have included a link to a story which details what occurred. Our association believes the shoreline should once again be public domain, and that the provincial government should re-affirm these rights, but we do not, and will not encourage or condone any individuals who take it upon themselves to advance the issue of shoreline access or enjoyment by way of threats or property destruction. Stories of the police being called for 'trespassers' walking along the water's edge are not uncommon but many officers are hesitant to proceed as even they are not sure of what is private or public. This bill not only defines what the public's rights are, but would also clearly define that the property owners do not have to tolerate unruly behavior, parties, bonfires, and trespassing on their beachfront property.
This public's right to enjoy the shoreline right would be applied to a very narrow strip of land, from the waters edge to the high water mark. Access would have to be via public property. Allowing the citizens the right to walk the shorelines will, in my opinion, not lead to increased crime or property damage as many waterfront property owners have suggested. In many parts of the province where waterfront property is vacated in the winter months, the increased number of citizens walking will only increase the surveillance and protection of private property. Criminals do not obey 'no trespassing' signs regardless of the shoreline being public or not.
In Michigan, where all shorelines of the Great Lakes are public, property values have increased (not decreased as was the argument made against public shorelines) as homeowners have realized that their proximity to the water where the public is able to walk is an asset. Property values further inland have also increased for the same reason. Many advocates for Right of Passage are themselves waterfront property owners. These waterfront property owners are proponents of this bill as many times they have been mistaken for 'the public' and asked to leave a shoreline that they themselves own waterfront property on only a few dozen metres away.
I encourage everyone to contact the MPP for your area as well as Premier Dalton McGuinty and ask them to support Bill 103-Right of Passage, and I hope that you would be so kind as to keep me informed of their comments. We do not yet have a date for the second reading of the bill, but are working toward gaining a majority of MPP's across all parties to vote yes. If you have family members, friends, coworkers, whether locally or across the province who care about this issue, I encourage you to ask them to write a letter of support to their local MPP asking them to vote yes to Bill 103-Right of Passage. A link to the directory of all the MPP's is here on our web site.
I look forward to hearing from you,
President, Ontario Shorewalk Association