Presented to Council on SEPT. 18, 2006
position on policy CS-33-06/lc-07-06
The directive to prepare a policy for residential, commercial and
waterfront encroachments has served no useful purpose other than to
appear even handed and universal when dealing with the waterfront.
Waterfront Road Allowance Encroachments are the only current issue
and it makes it difficult to create a “one size fits all”
policy. We continue to urge a single waterfront policy be crafted.
Throughout the policy document reference is made to the fact that
encroachments do not interfere with access to the lake and that always
a footpath or trail is available. What is lost in such a point of
view is that the road allowance lands not on the water are a very
valuable public asset in themselves. They have been deemed parkland
and will, when improved over time, become a wonderful series of public
parks with their own intrinsic value quite apart from their proximity
to the lake. We urge council to treat these lands as an asset for
us and for future generations and not a mere trail to the lake to
be squandered away. It would be a tragic loss for this town.
Further proof of the intention to maintain these upland sections of
our waterfront allowances comes with Ms. Hansen’s 2002 report
to council. She employed professional biologists to examine these
road allowances and used their comments in her final report. They
clearly were not being viewed as simply a way to the lake.
Much of the staff report is framed as a defense of encroachments.
I quote-:”Of the two surveys completed to date only one reveals
the encroachment of a retaining wall”, “Encroachments
on the road allowances north of the beach are not ‘on the waterfront’.”.
“Encroachments are typically minimum in size in relation to
the width of the road and do not interfere with access to, or enjoyment
of the beach”, ”In most cases soft encroachments are aesthetically
pleasing and contribute to the natural beauty of these road allowances…”
and “In most cases landscaping, hedges, and fences do not inhibit
the public’s access to the waterfront”. Even if these
attributes were universally true, which they are not, it totally misses
the point. As previously stated these are public parklands that have
a large public value in their own right They are NOT simple route
ways to the lake.
The report goes out of its way to point out that these encroachments
were “unintentional” and “inadvertent”. Are
the authors mind readers or have they been reassured that these fences
which are frequently 5, 10, or 15 feet into the public land were just
a mistake? It is quite ironic that there are virtually no examples
of where the mistake was made at the expense of their own land ie.
a few feet inside their property. However you wish to interpret past
intent it really is irrelevant to the issue at hand. These valuable
lands need to be returned intact to their public owners.
On the page seven WATERFRONT grid Shorewalk’s proposed alternative
is listed but there is an important omission. The report says “All
encroachments required to be removed regardless of nature and extent.”
No mention is made of the fact that we have in every discussion or
presentation indicated that a different policy is needed for shore
works and houses. This is serious because it leads any stakeholders
who read the document to think that we are in favour of removing houses
etc. which has never ever been suggested by us.
The town entered into the “deemed parkland” scenario in
order to protect the public since the road allowances technically
remain highways and can not be threatened with adverse possession.
This proposal reiterates: ”It is understood through statute
law and common law that an owner cannot claim title or acquire any
part of a municipal road allowance so encroached by virtue of adverse
possession.” The law is clearly on the town’s side but
of course anyone can attempt to litigate even when there is no merit.
The same could happen with the staff plan if council refused to accept
an application. It would seem the height of arrogance for anyone to
sue to retain land upon which they have encroached for years. I would
hope that we have the resolution to stand up to any such possibility
Council move to reject this report and direct staff to come back with
a report that includes no tolerance for fences and other soft encroachments
with a further direction to confer with council to prepare an acceptable
policy for hard encroachments. (in our view one that works towards
non-financial compensation)2. Staff amend (p.7 of 10) Waterfront alternatives
to include the fact that our Zero Tolerance position is for fences
and other soft encroachments and not for buildings and shore works.
Inquiries of many municipalities in Ontario indicate that they do
not enter into Encroachment Agreements for “landscaping”
or “yardworks” (including fences, plantings, debris piles
and excavations). In many cases the municipal workers simply arrive
and remove the encroachment. In other the encroaching property owners
are given a time period to remove and if it does not happen the municipality
removes and bills the landowner on his or her tax bill.
for Readers on our Website
The town proposal stands for now and will be introduced on Oct. 23
with a vote to follow on Oct.30
If this by law passes then it will have reduced the already scarce
public shoreline for years to come.
A reasonable compromise would be to keep the Commercial and Residential
Proposal and to modify the Lakefront Proposal to allow, at council’s
discretion, an Encroachment Agreement on houses, garages and shoreline
protective works. The section dealing with landscaping and yardworks
would be excluded. This would follow the pattern in most municipalities.
Help us by contacting the mayor and/or councilors and ask them to
eliminate the parts of the proposal that pertain to “landscaping”
and “yardworks” including fencing.
Join Shorewalk at www.shorewalk.ca
We will carry your message to council.
Ontario Shorewalk Association