FSB letter to Minister of MNRF

Post date: Mar 28, 2018 1:41:43 AM

Friends of Sauble Beach

Sauble Beach, ON N0H 2G0


March 26, 2018

Dear Minister Des Rosiers, MNRF:

Re: Sauble Beach Bulldozing

What has Mayor Jackson done to our beach?

In one fell swoop, she has undone all of the work that Friends of Sauble Beach (FSB) , along with volunteers who spent thousands of hours over the last 18 years, have done to help preserve the sands and dune ecosystems that have arguably made Sauble Beach one of the greatest fresh water shorelines in the world.

Beach raking and grooming is an ongoing issue at Sauble Beach. For many years it has been a topic of “conversation” between FSB, the MNRF and several town councils. Last year the mayor bulldozed and cultivated most of the beach. It seems that she has totally disregarded the advice of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MNRF) as well as a very large number of naturalists and directions set out by scientists who had been hired by FSB to create a responsible beach management plan for the TSBP (see footnote 1 below): she violated the Endangered species act by destroying the Piping Plover habitat as outlined in the Endangered Species Act. She has openly defied the MNRF and challenged them to take her to court; challenged the MNRF to fine her up to a million dollars for violating the act as she continued to rip out the foredunes and remove all of the sand fencing that had been designed to successfully trap and save the blowing sands over the last 18 years. The new foredune traps the sand before it progresses to the mature dune, thereby stopping the original dunes from growing higher. Almost all of the world’s most famous, expensive, and popular beaches control sand erosion with the same sand fencing and vegetation.

In the fall of 2017 the beach was bulldozed in an area the MNRF states must be left in its natural state for the Plover habitat, including the strand line. In 2015 the current council modified the Dynamic Beach By-law by removing the protection for the strand line, which prevented raking 10 meters from the water’s edge. The mayor justifies all of this carnage in the name of tourism. We need only to go back to 2015 to dispute the mayor’s desire to attract tourists to Sauble Beach. The “Blue Flag” is arguably the world’s most powerful symbol of beach excellence. It draws tourists seeking clean and natural beaches that adhere to Blue Flag standards. The Blue Flag is an internationally recognized symbol of a clean natural beach that attracts tens of thousands of tourists. Many tourists come specifically to see the natural dune system and the piping plovers. The mayor had been forewarned that changing the grooming practices and town raking bylaws could possibly lead to the removal of our Blue Flag status. The mayor, in similar defiance of rules and regulations, ignored the warning and, along with some of her council, changed the raking policies that had been set out by previous councils. This act of defiance resulted in the loss of our Blue Flag status. Environmental Defence ordered the Town of South Bruce Peninsula to remove the Blue Flag and send it back to them.

The bottom line is that there are residents who desire a pristinely groomed beach and residents who prefer a natural beach. We need compromise to keep everyone happy. We understand and have always supported minimal raking, away from the dune grasses (which trap blowing sand) and the strand line on the shore. Aggressive raking and bulldozing contributes to loss of sand through wind erosion, indiscriminately spreading the invasive species phragmites and loss of Plover habitat. The result is an extremely 'wet beach' which breeds harmful bacteria. Moreover, when the protected Piping Plover is put into the equation, two senior levels of government bring significant legislation that make compromise even more difficult. FSB will never recommend breaking the law and/or support cleaning activities that will compromise the integrity of the dunes. We recommend that sand fencing be reinstalled to start the rehabilitation process again.

We believe that our Council and all residents of the TSBP are committed to what they sincerely believe are the best interests of Sauble Beach. FSB volunteer members are an important part of our tax paying residential community. We all love our world class beach and hope that it continues to be world class for generations to come. Once again, we must come to some kind of compromise. Bulldozing is not any kind of compromise. For eighteen years Friends of Sauble Beach volunteers have worked diligently towards making Sauble Beach the wonderful natural playground that is appreciated by all who come here to visit and all those who live here. We are dedicated to help bring about this compromise and will continue to stay true to our mission.

On behalf of the executive of Friends of Sauble Beach,


Kathy Strachan, Chair Friends of Sauble Beach

cc: Bill Walker, MPP

Tracy Allison, Resources Mgmt Supervisor, Owen Sound Office – MNRF

Erinn Lawrie, Executive Director, Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation

Kate McLaren, President, Owen Sound Field Naturalists

Sonya Skinner, CAO Grey Sauble Conservation

Anne Bell, Director of Conservation & Education, Ontario Nature

Kelsey Scarfone, Blue Flag, Environmental Defence

1) Copy the following link into your web browser to see the two Sauble Beach Mgmt plans: https://sites.google.com/site/friendsofsaublebeach/what-we-do/beach-management