Press Releases

Press Release from Ontario Shorewalk Association

Niagara 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.

Their 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 is finalized.

Mr. 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.

Shorewalk 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.




1. Ask MNR to clarify the 2002 amendment to the Beds of Navigable Waters Act 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” agenda forward.

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 edge.



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