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
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.”
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.
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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