Editorials - July 29, 2022
Whose beach is it, anyway?
Ipperwash Beach is one of the longest beaches in Ontario, comprised of both public beaches and cottage properties that own the beach right to the water’s edge, which can make it difficult for visitors to know where they are allowed to be and where they are trespassing. Ipperwash Beach is not the only shoreline of Lake Huron that has this ongoing battle over access to the beach, it is just the latest to make headlines.
Part of the confusion can be attributed to the vagaries in deed rights, with some properties owning the land to the high water mark and others having ownership right to the water’s edge. Fluctuating lake levels certainly haven’t made it easier either. Visitors attending the public beach owned by the Crown are not making the distinction and their parties are spilling over onto private land. Cottagers are frustrated by people disrespecting their property and setting up camp, complete with towels, tents and barbeques. Occasionally tempers have flared with police called in to moderate the situation.
The Ministry of Natural Resources is quoted in the London Free Press saying that while some patents guarantee a right of passage, making walking along the water’s edge allowed, other property deeds do not. The only way of knowing is to read each individual deed. Property owners have taken to signage indicating restricted access, and some cottagers are carrying a copy of their deed to the beach with them.
A standardized system in which all properties end at the same point, perhaps the high water mark leaving a walkway along the beach, would clear things up, but at this point it would be tough to convince property owners to give up their unfettered access to the water. In the meantime, visitors need to respect the rights of the property owners and those owners need to do more to educate the public about property lines. – DS
Pope Francis and his “tour of penance” in Canada may be one of the more notable historical events in recent memory. However, its true impact and any potential change it may bring is up for debate.
The tour may represent one of the most important meetings of the minds of our time that consists of very little actually happening. Sure, an apology from the Pope on behalf of the Catholic Church for the abuse suffered by Indigenous children in the Residential School system largely run by the church is a watershed event. This is especially true when discussing a church that has not been forthcoming with apologies or admittances of guilt, despite having more than its fair share of scandals. However, the impact of the apology on the average Indigenous community member is unlikely to be much more than a shoulder shrug or an apathetic nod.
And yet, the process had to start somewhere. The optimistic among us may see this as the first step towards more tangible changes that will make life better for Canada’s Indigenous communities, while the rest of us may think that what’s done is done and this tour is nothing more than opportunistic glad-handing with fingers crossed behind the back.
Only time will tell and the next steps will be crucial and eagerly anticipated by many. It may lead to a process of reparations, similar to that reached with the Canadian government (which many will point out was far from perfect) or it may end here. The Pope travelling to Canada to offer the church’s heartfelt apology is a big deal, but the even bigger deal will be if it leads to meaningful and thoughtful change. – SL
Shelter for all
Earlier this week, a couple in Fredericton, after winning a legal challenge against their landlord who tried to increase their rent by 67 per cent, found out they may need to find a new home anyway.
Pauline and Charles Tramble are facing eviction proceedings after their landlord tried to raise the rent, then sent them a “courtesy letter” telling them their unit was going to be converted into a short-term rental. Following that, they were served an eviction notice, giving them until Sept. 30 to vacate in favour of a family member of the landlord.
The Trambles’ story is particularly harrowing, as Charles struggles with dementia, and, aside from worrying about him getting lost in a new environment, Pauline has had to tell him several times a day for the last month that they were losing their home. While the Residential Tenancies Tribunal in New Brunswick is reviewing the situation, it seems obvious that, after failing to drive the Trambles out with a rent increase and a “courtesy letter”, the landlord is using one of the few loopholes to evict a bill-paying tenant. The Trambles’ situation isn’t unique, with many landlords seeing dollar signs in Canada’s super-charged market.
The Trambles’ story has already prompted changes and a rent cap in New Brunswick and it (and others) show that we need protection for one of life’s top necessities: shelter. Homelessness is a significant problem both locally and abroad and our governments need to step in with controls to make sure that the sudden swell in the residential market doesn’t leave people without a place to live. – JDS