By Alison Bell
Fort Erie
Feb 15, 2008

Public should be allowed
to walk shore: Craitor

Braving a bone chilling wind and snow, Niagara Falls
MPP Kim Craitor and ort Erie resident Stephen Passero
stand next to a fence post at the end of Cresent Road.

The post isn't just any post. It's the first link in a fence that
come summer, will extend out along the beach, blocking
off the waterfront as private property.

MPP Kim Craitor and Ontario Shorewalk Association president Stephen Passero stand along the shore at Crescent Beach next to a fence post that, come summer, will be part of a barrier to block off the property behind it. Craitor plans to introduce a private member's bill at Queen's Park Feb. 27 to create a right of passage along the shoreline of the Great Lakes.


The duo believe no one should have the right to fence off sections of the Great Lakes shorelines and they're acting to stop it.

Craitor, whose riding includes Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, plans to introduce a private member's bill Feb. 27 at Queen's Park to create a right of passage along the shoreline of the Great Lakes. Under the act, the public would be permitted to walk up to the point where the water leaves a distinct mark in the shore. Access to the beaches will be via public roads and road allowances, not over private property, and property owners would still be able to build docks and wharfs where permitted by law.

"People say they own the land and they have legal proof, but I've never seen it," said Craitor.

He said he hopes his bill will make it to second reading April 2 and will receive overwhelming support from his fellow MPPs. Craitor introduced the bill in the Ontario legislature last April, but it died when the writ was dropped for the October election.

For now, Craitor is busy gathering examples of previous legislation from across the country which deals with right of passage along the shoreline. Last year, courts in Michigan ruled that the public has a right to access beaches on the American side of the Great Lakes.

It's important to note, said Craitor, that passersby must proceed by foot -- no motorized vehicles are allowed. And if you think you're allowed to throw down your beach towel and catch a couple hours of rays, think again. The act is limited to walking by -- not stopping to set up camp.

"People won't be allowed to stop and party," said Passero. "It's exclusive to walking along and enjoying the shoreline."

The penalty? Up to a $2,000 fine if convicted by a judge. Property owners who refuse to remove their fences could also face the same penalty.

Besides walking on the shore, nothing in the act interferes with property rights along the shoreline of the Great Lakes.

"We're not out for expropriation -- we merely want walking rights so people can enjoy the shoreline," said Passero.

Craitor said he was inspired to first introduce the act by former Shorewalk president Gary Skarret, who stepped out of the spotlight because of health concerns.

"It's the right thing to do," said Craitor. "I wholeheartedly agree the public should have the right to walk the shoreline along our Great Lakes."


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