Tiny is shaking off cold feet by dipping their toes into beach management.
“This sparked out of the discussion of someone developing a portion of the shoreline,” explained Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma during a recent regular meeting of Tiny council. “And the municipality’s inability to act, because we really don’t have any authority over development of things like fences, retaining walls, et cetera, especially when they’re smaller.”
In spring, public complaints arose from private construction of a project south of Balm Beach which extended onto the sands to the water’s edge. Tiny public works staff had issued a permit to use a pathway for work access under the belief it would be for a retaining wall repair, but put the work on hold after realizing it was for construction of a structure on the beach.
Realizing that Tiny had “no mechanism to lean into”, Walma began to look into shoreline alteration management in other municipalities across the province for options. Several locations, including the city of Oakville and municipality of Haliburton County, have shoreline bylaws in place and were used as examples by Walma.
The request from Walma was for staff to explore options to manage shoreline alterations with consideration to environmental impacts, traditional beach use infringement, and similar bylaws used by other municipalities to regulate the matter.
“We have a beautiful road allowance into Shelly Lane, for instance, and the rock wall there keeps getting bigger and bigger into the shoreline,” said Walma who admitted that rock walls on beaches were a specific bother to him. “And MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) doesn’t have the resources necessarily to deal with these things, and it’s not in municipal land inventory.”
Coun. John Bryant pointed out the different physiological characteristics of Tiny’s waterline, from the sandy shores of the western side to the rocky areas of the north and east leading into Penetanguishene Bay.
Said Mayor George Cornell, “The shoreline does vary, but I think as the deputy mayor pointed out, there’s a couple of principles that demonstrate ownership of the property first of all.
“And I think there’s a reasonable level of comfort with shoreline adjustments that are parallel to the shoreline. It’s when we start doing things perpendicular to the water that we start to cause some issues in terms of environmental impacts and also where there has been historical use.”
Coun. Gibb Wishart stated that Cornell’s comment hit the nail on the head.
“There are places where people have put up retaining walls to save their cottage from being washed away during high water, and those walls do not go out like a groyne,” said Wishart. “That destroys the walkability of the beachfront when you put a groyne out; you might as well put up a fence so that people can’t walk past your property (without getting) their feet wet.”
“I would support it more than 100 per cent if I could; this is something we need,” said Coun. Cindy Hastings who also asked staff to include enforcement aspects into the report.
The request from Walma coincided with consideration rising from a joint deputation by Mary Petkopoulos and Robin Pereira of the Balm Beach Community Association (BBCA) at the previous committee of the whole in May.
Said Petkopoulos in her statement, “Although the MNRF has rules about an intrusion area, Tiny has allowed boathouses to be built at the 178-metre contour. This isn’t Lake Simcoe where water levels remain fairly steady. I believe their contour is at approximately 219 metres.
“The Township of Georgian Bay does allow boathouses, but only on frontages greater than 31 metres. According to MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation), the two boathouses at the 178-contour immediately south of Balm Beach have frontages of 14.7 and 26.5 metres,” Petkopoulos noted.
Council also received the BBCA deputation alongside the notice of motion from Walma, instructing staff to investigate and report back on options to manage alterations to the shoreline.
Information on the deputation from the Balm Beach Community Association, as well as the proposed shoreline alteration bylaw motion from Walma, can be viewed within the agenda page located on the Tiny Township website.
Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca