Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Steven Myers says he takes responsibility for a path cut through a dune at St. Margaret's beach — work that upset local residents.
The path was cut through the beach's sand dune earlier this summer by a resident who was issued the proper permits by the department. Myers said all the work conducted was within the scope of the permits issued.
"I might not have been there with a shovel in my hand making this happen, but our department was responsible for it. My job is to take responsibility for the actions of the department. And I feel like that's what I've done," said Myers.
He told CBC News that his department should have consulted with local residents first.
"We did this and we didn't put enough consideration into the people who were the main users," he said.
"That's why we circled back, and our remediation plan we kind of are working in conjunction with the people in the area to make sure that what we do is what they want.
"My business is people, and we failed the people," he said. "We're taking this as an opportunity to kind of learn better when we tackle projects."
The department is currently consulting with the community on what they'd like to see happen with the current path. It is also working with the Island Nature Trust on the issue.
"We feel the state it is in now is unprotected," he said.
Myers said any future work plans involving beach access will come across his desk and be subject to a greater degree of public consultation.
'We followed our permits'
Mark Bradley was the resident who was issued permits to complete the work at St. Margaret's beach.
He is an Ontario resident but owns a home in the area. He hired contractors to execute the work permits.
They filled in a path locals would use to access the beach, on his own property — Bradley felt it was unsafe and open to erosion — and cut a new path through the dunes on public property
Though he agrees that the public should have been consulted before permits were issued for work on the public land, he disagrees with claims that he doesn't care about the health of the shoreline.
"Nothing environmentally wrong was done here and we followed our permits. We would never, ever want to do something that would damage the environment there," he said.
Bradley said he spent about $2,000 of his own money to do the work.
He said he and his wife have been on the receiving end of threats to burn down their home and have had their tires slashed since the work occurred.
"I will leave it in the hands of the public and the public servants. I know that they'll do a good job and whatever they want to do is fine."
Myers said remediation plans are still being finalized, but he'd like to see the work get started as soon as possible, and wrap up this fall, to make sure the area is protected from winter storms.
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