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 ShoreBeach 15Jul23 signage

Dear Chief Ambrose, Ms. Patchell, Mayor Boddy et al:

I am writing today regarding a matter the city has failed to firmly and finally address.

My concern and complaint is with regard to a homeowner resident on the 2nd Avenue West shoreline 2600 block just north of the Harbourfront Condominiums, yacht club and marina.

This person has, over the years, insisted that the water-access Crown land across the street from their house is in fact their property.

Under this delusion, they built a dock and moored a boat.

They clear-cut all the sumacs in that area and made a fire pit.

They set up outdoor seating.

Much of this the city has made them remove, though they've taken it all back across 2nd Avenue a few times only to be compelled by law to clear their property improvements from the land that is not theirs.

ShoreBeach 15Jul23 2ndStW

At many times they have tried to tell beach goers that there is no parking on the road, a false claim, in attempts to deter the public's use of this stretch of waterfront.

They persist in discouraging the young and old alike from making legal use of the public beach area by taking surveillance photographs of those they consider law breakers, as well as using harassment and threats, and then ultimately calling the police, without cause, again.

The land in question is owned by the federal Ministry of Transportation.

The shoreline has never been deeded to the residential properties across the street, so the homeowners enjoy the same access as anyone else – and the same restrictions.

The ministry is apparently unconcerned with proper public use of this area and it is not anyone's job to police it for them.

The resident's unrelenting actions depend on most beach-users not knowing the important and truthful fact that the land is not the property of that person, nor under any control by that person.

The resident depends on the police to do their bidding and the force invariably complies, sending out an officer to tend to these baseless and relentless complaints.

This is what happened yesterday when OSPS Officer Ochando, professional and kind in executing his duties, answered one of what will most likely be dozens of calls this summer if the complainant is allowed to continue to abuse taxpayer-funded city resources with false claims.

When will the police and the city develop a backbone and address this disregard and abuse of resources, tax money, and personnel? Why has this been allowed to continue?

Today I sat quietly by the water with my sister, an enforcement officer, on this small rocky publicly-owned beach and watched three children play for hours in the water.

They did not swear, they were not rude; they were children doing what we all say children do not do enough of these days: play outside.

And the beach-squatting resident called the police on them.

ShoreBeach 15Jul23 beach

Children who use the beach are lectured that they cannot sit on certain rocks. They cannot walk here and they cannot walk there.

These poor kids do not have chaperones to help them stand up to this angry person.

I have heard of other municipalities drawing similar lines for similar abuses – does the complainant hold sway with the city? How can this go on for over 13 years?

ShoreBeach 15Jul23 limits

The rocks that the complainant "protects" are neither part of the public beach nor are they not part of it.

There is no good reason not to be able to use these southside rocks as they allow easier access into the water for swimmers and a pleasant place to sit in the sun.

The rocks on the other side of the beach – on the north end of it – are also not officially considered part of the public beach either but they rarely call the police if people make use of these.

Why? Because they don't consider these part of their land – but they do consider the other rocks, in front of their house, their own property.

The city and the police have allowed this misuse of resources.

This madness must end.

Please stop this reckless use of police time, give the appropriate warning, and then – follow through on it!

Cordially, but with frustration and waning patience,

M. Mann, Owen Sound

Editor's note: As well reported in this May 9th article by Rob Gowan in the Sun Times, the homeowners were denied an encroachment and the City is entering into an agreement with Transport Canada to make this an Owen Sound beach. 

The homeowner is currently in discussions with Transport Canada following Freedom of Information requests for a 1973 lease to the waterfront.


– photographs by Hub staff


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