Reclaim the Sea

Coming together demanding environmental and social justice with a global movement to reclaim our oceans and coastlines

read more

Association continues to push for right to walk along the shoreline (Ontario, Canada)

6 years ago, Written by , Posted in Actions, Civil Society

Garry Skerrett and Betty Van Osch haven’t given up on a bill that would give a better understanding of what is considered public property along the Great Lakes in Ontario.

Skerrett, the founder of the Ontario Shorewalk Association, and president Betty Van Osch hope to see newly elected MPP Wayne Gates bring the Right of Passage Bill before the provincial legislature.

The bill would allow the public to walk along the shoreline between the high-water mark and the water’s edge.

The high-water mark is the point on the shore where water is in constant flow and leaves a distinct mark caused by erosion.

Van Osch said many beaches face the problem of homeowners building fences right up to the water, discouraging people from walking along the shoreline.

“We’re asking for no fences and to let us walk along the shorelines without being harassed or kicked off,” she said.

“In speaking with Gates, he said he’ll bring the issue to his leader, Andrew Horwath, for review, and the hope is that the party will take it over and support our cause,” Skerrett said.

Skerrett created the Ontario Shorewalk Association in 2005. The organization is dedicated to promote awareness and increase public access to Ontario’s Great Lake’s Shoreline. That year, when Skerrett created the Ontario Shorewalk Association, he also appealed to former MPP Kim Craitor to bring the issue of lack of public access to the Great Lakes’ shorelines to Queen’s Park.

Working with Craitor, the association put together a bill to promote public access to the the shorelines of Ontario’s lakes.

“The bill was submitted in 2006 for its first reading but it didn’t pass the first reading because of time limits,” Skerrett said.

Van Osch said the bill was presented into legislature four times. It faced a number of hurdles and was left in waiting when Craitor resigned from his post as MPP.

“We had to wait and see who would fill Mr. Craitor’s position, but we haven’t forgotten the bill,” Van Osch said.

“Who knows what’s going to happen with it. We’re still waiting in limbo and we’re regrouping,” she added.

Gates said he first learned about the Right of Passage Bill when Skerrett approached him and he is interested in researching more information about it.

“We’ll have to wait and see what happens over the course of the next few weeks with the round of elections coming up,” Gates said about reintroducing the bill into the legislature.

“If we’re going to raise it, I don’t want to raise it again, only to see it die.”

Gates said he was unaware that some residents build fences right up to the water line.

“I was surprised they’re allowed to do it and I understand why people want to have access to walk down the beach,” he said.


About the Ontario Shorewalk Association

We are a group of concerned citizens based on Lake Erie’s north shore in the Fort Erie, Port Colborne, Wainfleet Ontario area. We have members from many other parts of Ontario as well as support membership from the UK and USA.

To promote and enhance public access to Ontario’s Great Lakes shoreline.

1. Build Membership, coalitions, and partnerships with like minded citizens, and organizations.

2. Publicize and monitor related public policy with our lakefront access objectives in view.

3. Work towards strengthening Ontario’s waterfront legislative and judicial decisions to reflect the public’s right to walk all of our shorelines. (to match American public Right of Passage (walking rights) in the Great Lakes States)

4. Promote and practice sound environmental policy within the above objectives