They Are ‘Our Great Lakes’ If We Can Fork Out the Money to Walk a Beach – No Money, No Beach!

In Niagara, the Message from Private Lakeshore owners and Local Municipalities  Seems to Be – Pay Up Or Get the Hell Off the Beach

A Brief Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted April 27th, 2022 on Niagara At Large

This is how those who don’t own land along the Great Lakes shores in Niagara are treated – ‘ No Tresspassing” or, for short, ‘get the hell out.’. So much for ‘Our Great Lakes’.

For more than four decades, this reporter – in my capacity as one covering environmental issues – has encouraged us all to do what we can to protect our Great Lakes.

But it is getting harder and harder for me to do that any more because these Great Lakes apparently do not belong to us.

They belong to federal and provincial governments that want to fill them full of fingerlings so that they may be exploited as a multi-billion dollar commercial and sport fishery.

And they belong to municipalities in Niagara and elsewhere that want to exploit them for revenue by charging residents in our region and other regions of the Great Lakes fees to walk on the beach.

How are people supposed to care or find some kind of organic connection with what are supposed to be “our Great Lakes” if the municipal councils of St. Catharines, Fort Erie and others will not allow these same people to visit a beach along Lakes Erie or Ontario without paying for what now appears to be “the privilege.”

Along the shores of Fort Erie, a fence right down to the waterline that says get the hell out of here too.

For these municipalities, it may be just one more way to generate revenue or poach money from the pockets of area residents, but it is a way of exploiting a beautiful part of our environment that should belong to all of us, just the same.

In the more than six decades now that I have lived in Niagara, it has gotten to a point where there are no places where a person or a couple or a family can simply park a car and walk along a beach anymore – not without some pimp holding out a hand for cash.

It is disgusting enough that in Ontario, private lakeshore owners can put up fences along stretches of the Lake Erie and Ontario beach shores and declare – “No Trespassing. KEEP OUT!”

Now we have municipalities across Niagara saying pay us or keep out too.

If the plan of St. Catharines is to keep the rest of us off its beaches, then so be it. Here’s a shot of the beach in Port Dalhousie flooded with water during a recent spring. Hope the City of St. Catharines is fine with looking after the damage all by itself. File photo by Doug Draper

I say too hell with it. I will wait until my family can go back to Cape Cod, Massachusetts where we can walk beaches freely.

In the meantime, no wonder so many people may not feel connected enough to our Great Lakes to fight the good fight to protect them.

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“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders


One response to “They Are ‘Our Great Lakes’ If We Can Fork Out the Money to Walk a Beach – No Money, No Beach!

  1. Linda McKellar

    I walk the Lake Erie shore and have for decades. I keep my feet in the water to please the nasty b******s. To my knowledge they do not have riparian rights beyond the water’s edge. The signs say between the water and the homes is private. Whoop dee do!. This has been a fight in Fort Erie/Ridgeway/Crystal Beach even before Ray Haggarty in the 50’s, Kim Craitor, Don Lubberts, dozens of politicians and the property owners always seem to win. The shore was sold by greedy town councilors for a century, often to Americans, and we can’t even walk the shore? They send out their dogs, threaten people. Maybe they have a 12 nautical mile offshore limit like our national waters. This is ridiculous. Why not just have a beach patrol like they do in places like Wasaga. If people are being jerks, give them the boot or fine them. Am I going to hurt “their” sand by walking on a sunny day? As Doug implied, even Jackie Kennedy lost the fight to keep people from walking the shore. Canadians are saps for not claiming their right to innocently walk along the shore.


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