Niagara, Ontario Regional Chairman Wins Binational Support For More Public Access To Great Lakes Shorelines

Niagara At large - June 26, 2010 - By Doug Draper

The chairman of Niagara, Ontario’s regional government has won support from Canadian and U.S. municipal leaders around the Great Lakes a resolution calling for more public access to the lakes’ shorelines.

The resolution was passed by the municipal leaders at the annual conference this June of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In its own words, it “encourages the U.S. and Canadian federal/ provincial, First Nations and tribes to work collaboratively with municipal governments and other parties to affirm support of the right of all citizens to walk along the shoreline of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence (River).”

Approved by the multi-member organization on June 17, the resolution goes on to call on the three levels of government on both sides of the international border “to take back into public ownership waterfront properties along the Great Lakes as they become available to ensure public access for future generations.”

Partington circulated a copy of the resolution at a recent regional council meeting along a copy of a presentation he made to GLSLCI members in Milwaukee. In the presentation, he outlined Niagara’s regional government’s plans to establish a ‘Waterfront Enhancement Strategy’ which, he said, will include “a set of principles that all of our communities can use to guide future waterfront acquisitions, plans for new development (both public and private), improve public access and ownership to our beaches, protect the environment and preserve our heritage.”

Kim Craitor, a member of the provincial legislature for the Niagara Falls riding, tabled a private member’s bill earlier this year for more public access to lakeshore areas. But that bill – at least the second of its kind Craitor has tabled in recent years – has yet to receive the support of the Ontario government.

Craitor’s bill is a response to concerns frequently raised by area residents about sections of some shorelines along Lake Erie being fenced off to the public by nearby property owners.

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