By Paul Torrie & James McKenzie
Mediators Appointed by the Province of Ontario
We are pleased to report significant progress in the mediation this summer. We are moving towards completion of the third and final phase of the process building on all stakeholder interests to fashion a sustainable solution to the beach access dispute. Much of this progress has been a result of stakeholders recognizing and respecting the interests of one another.
One of the key challenges faced by stakeholders was to develop a mechanism to address behaviours witnessed or experienced on the beaches and reported to us. Those behaviours could be characterized as jockeying to assert or protect a perceived legal right. For example, many landowners feel compelled to ask non-owner beach users to leave a beach lest, at some later time, their not doing so be construed as implicit permission to access and use the beach. Likewise, many non-owner users feel that they must actively make use of a beach so as to strenuously assert and preserve a right of continued access and use. In the absence of a proposal that meaningfully addressed all the interests of all stakeholders and to assist stakeholders in overcoming this obstacle we tabled the legal cease-fire in the fall of 2002. (Please visit our web site www.beachaccessmediation.org
for the full text of the cease-fire proposal.) This proposal allows each stakeholder to preserve its legal rights while continuing the dialogue, on a beach by beach basis, to establish a consensus about what are responsible uses and what is a reasonable number of users on a beach. This consensus will ultimately be implemented through a strong social contract the unwritten rules about using the beaches based upon mutual respect, sharing, communication, co-operation, and compromise. Essentially this social contract will be built upon the elements that existed within the community for many years before conflict arose as stakeholders maneuvered to assert their perceived legal rights.
Following a multi-party stakeholder meeting earlier this summer, a technical sub- committee was formed to begin the process of making recommendations on the form and substance of the legal cease-fire. It is expected that this committee will be reporting back to the stakeholders this fall. There will still be much work to be done, but the implementation of the cease-fire proposal will represent a success and a turning point for the entire Tiny community.
Stakeholders participating in this process have demonstrated an enduring commitment to breaking the cycle of conflict over beach access issues, restore the social contract and move forward. There is a clear understanding that the alternatives to a co-operative or mediated resolution have serious social and financial costs to the Tiny community. As the mediation moves through its final phase we would like to recognize and thank those who have devoted so much of time and effort to their community and moving this process forward.
We will report to the community again at Thanksgiving or earlier if events warrant.