Conservation authority keeps claim over Dawn-Euphemia campground

·2 min read

The Shetland Conservation Area in Dawn-Euphemia will be staying in the hands of the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, following an offer from the township to acquire the land.

The issue began a year ago when it was discovered the conservation authority – who owns the piece of Dawn-Euphemia land – didn’t have proper title due to an error made before they became owners. A survey was deemed necessary to establish this documentation.

Dawn-Euphemia was asked to split the cost of the survey, for a total of $2,365 each. The township – which says it already puts lots of public works time and money into the park each year for upkeep and appearance – instead asked the conservation authority if they’d be willing to work out a deal to relinquish the land.

The request was made in April, but it took the conservation authority until September to respond. They reaffirmed “the Authority’s commitment to retain the property in perpetuity.” However they added they would “draft an updated management agreement for the property.”

“I thought it would be a great idea and in everyone’s best interests,” says clerk Donna Clermont during a council meeting last month regarding potential transfer of ownership to the township.

“It’s a little bit disappointing, but at the same time they have their reasons,” she says. “I think what we need to do is keep an eye out for that agreement that they talk about creating for the township and the conservation area. And we’ll need to review that quite carefully and ensure that it’s fair for the township.”

The reason the conservation authority cited revolved around the terms of the 1963 sale of the campground from the Shetland Picnic Corporation to the Sydenham Valley Conservation Authority. The $1 sale came with the condition that “the property would be maintained in perpetuity as a conservation area and park for the inhabitants of the community and others.”

Returning the land to the township would mean the campground would technically no longer be a conservation area.

But Mayor Al Broad – who sits on the conservation board – wasn’t buying this. “Pretty poor excuses, but it is what it is. The board voted on it and turned it down and so be it.”

“They call this Shetland Conservation Area of local significance, and yet everybody that uses it is from out of the area,” says Broad.

Councillor Mark McGuire wasn’t happy with the result either. “I don’t like it. I think we should own it.”

Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent