Advocates push for access to Great Lakes on private property
Great Lakes Right of Passage Act will be reviewed and possibly reintroduced to the Ontario legislature
An Ontario group that's been pushing for a law governing public access on Great Lakes beaches says it hasn't given up the fight.
A private members bill called the Great Lakes Right of Passage Act was stalled when the legislature was prorogued over the winter, but the Ontario Shorewalk Association hasn’t given up its fight.
The group’s founder said the push for legislation started after some waterfront property owners on the Great Lakes put up fences all the way down to the water.
"The public should have the right between the high water mark and the shoreline to walk the beach and to have access to it that way," Gary Skerrett explained. "And you can't do that if there are fences in the way."
He said members are working with Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craiter and said the bill will be introduced when the timing is right.
"We will review it again and see if we should try and get a private members bill through in the current government," Skerrett said. "We're not sure. But we haven't given up."
Skerrett said Michigan serves as an example for any future legislation, where a beach access case went all the way to the Supreme Court several years ago.
The court ruled the public has access to what's called the "ordinary high water mark."
A lawyer in Traverse City who was involved with the case said the beaches’ demarcation point is clear enough.
"So you look at the physical characteristics of the shoreline over time and you can tell where the beach is and where it isn't," James Olsen said.
"It's not absolutely clear, but it's uniform enough. And I don't think there have been many skirmishes since."