Shorewalk Matters
Kim Craitor to Introduce Right of Passage Bill

Go down to the Lake Erie shore and walk as far as you want in either direction - no fences, no obstructions, no challenge to your walking rights! It’s perfectly legal and a basic right; except not here on our shores. Instead go west to Lake Erie’s Michigan shoreline and you can today walk freely. In fact you can stroll any of Michigan’s 5,000 km. of shores on Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior and never be challenged.

Isn’t it ironic that here in Fort Erie we are restricted to about 4% of our shoreline while 96% is totally in private hands and off limits? That just may change over the next year if MPP Kim Craitor’s private member’s bill is passed in our legislature this winter session. Shorewalk’s discussions with him over the past year have resulted in his decision to take the initiative in proposing legislation that would mirror the public rights now enjoyed in Michigan and other American Great Lakes states.

In Michigan their supreme court ruled in July of 2005 that the public has free walking rights along all of their Great Lakes shoreline. The panel of judges ruled that private property owners will maintain their rights but that in the case of Great Lakes shoreline there is a duality of rights that permits public passage along the lakefront of shoreline property.

Kim Craitor’s bill will propose to acknowledge public Right of Passage along Ontario’s Great Lakes shoreline in a similar manner. This is not a “pie in the sky” proposal. With support from across Ontario it could pass and become law. One of our Shorewalk members is Mr. Richard Chaloner, a retired Guelph lawyer and former deputy minister for Ontario’s Attorney General. He suggests that it is entirely reasonable to take the legislative route in seeking to improve public rights and that is what Kim Craitor is prepared to do.

We urge the public to support Mr. Craitor’s private member’s bill and to help spread the word. Mayor elect Martin and the new council have all agreed to endorse this initiative and to pass their endorsement on to other municipalities. Ask our other local MPP’s Tim Hudak and Peter Kormos to vote their support and request that they in turn lobby their Queen’s Park colleagues to also support it.

Private member bills traditionally have difficulty in becoming law but this one should have a chance. What it needs for success is widespread public support across the province. Shorewalk urges you to help spread the word and make it happen.

What about the on going encroachment of fences on waterfront road allowances? The issue has passed on to the new council and we hope for a favourable resolution from them in the weeks ahead.

- Garry Skerrett


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