Press Release from Ontario Shorewalk Association
Falls MPP, Kim Craitor met today with members of Fort Erie’s Shorewalk
Association in order to be briefed on their lakefront concerns and agenda.
president, Garry Skerrett, expressed his group’s appreciation
for council’s recent action plan for enhancing beachfront access
at the 14 designated road allowances. Details will follow when the budget
Craitor’s interest centers, however, on the provincial jurisdiction.
Shorewalk maintains that the public has the right of access to all of
Ontario’s shoreline based on the general principal that the navigable
waters of the Great Lakes are an extension of the oceans. English Common
Law includes the principal of unfettered access to the shoreline to
the high water mark. This principal was tested in July 2005 in the Michigan
Supreme Court regarding that state’s 5000 km. of Great Lakes shoreline
and the public right of passage was upheld.
claims that the same unrestricted public “rights of passage”
have always existed on Ontario’s Great Lakes. This position was,
until 1950, reinforced by the Beds of Navigable Waters Act which the
gave the public universal Great Lakes access up to the high water mark.
In that year it was amended to the low water mark thus creating ambiguity,
court actions and removing what Shorewalk regards as a birthright. In
the 2005 Michigan court case, when the question of the lakeshore property
owners having exclusive use of the shoreline taken away from them the
Supreme Court’s answer was, “You cannot have taken away
from you something that was never yours”.
Mr. Craitor has agreed to take the issue back to Queen’s Park
for examination and the Shorewalk group is hopeful that the government
will take up their cause.
TO KIM CRAITOR
1. Ask MNR to clarify
the 2002 amendment to the Beds of Navigable Waters Act re.legal status
of water lots. We know that some such lots along the Fort Erie shoreline
are not legal. They should accelerate their process of reviewing the
legality of all water lots.
2. Ask MNR to review
the 1950 amendment to the Beds of Navigable Waters Act with possibility
of reverting to the earler interpretation giving public rights to the
high water mark.
3. Consider drafting
an amendment to the Beds of Navigable Waters Act that would restore
public access rights to the high water mark.
4. Ask the Attorney
General’s office to review the Michigan Supreme Court decision
of July 29, 2005 (Glass vs. Goeckel) to advise on its applicability
to Ontario and to suggest methods of moving the “rights of passage”
5. Ask the Attorney
General’s office to review the Justice Stark decision of 1970
for possible appeal and to provide us a copy of the full case. (This
case involves a dispute between Lake Erie shoreline property owners
here in Fort Erie and the Attorney General.)
6. Ask the Attorney
General’s office to review the evolution of property rights along
this shoreline, in particular, how the 1876 farm lot lines which ended
at a shoreline public road allowance, were later extended to the water’s