Let’s make our township-owned
beach parks more pleasant

Tiny Township owns a surprising amount of property along its shoreline. There are five major parks (Woodland, Bluewater, Jackson, Balm, and Lafontaine), assorted smaller parks sprinkled along the shore, and 66’ patches of municipal land at the end of every concession road.

Not surprisingly, given that it was prepared with a great deal of citizen input, Tiny’s Official Plan conceives of the land the municipality owns along the shore as parkland. It also recognizes its beauty and ecological sensitivity and the need to give it special care, in statements like this:

The shoreline of Georgian Bay is a significant geographical feature in the Township that is well known for its natural beauty. While there are competing demands for its use and enjoyment, the majority of the shoreline is used only on a low intensity basis. It is a policy of this Plan that all land use decisions affecting the shoreline respect the character, natural beauty and ecological integrity of the shoreline.

Unfortunately, for many decades the Township has viewed its shoreline properties as the destination of ditches and culverts draining roadsides and subdivisions. This practice may have a detrimental effect on the quality of swimming water in the Bay, especially after storms; it certainly has a negative impact on the beauty and usability of many areas of public beach.

At the 8th Concession, for example, a culvert, which has drained nearby Stott Park for many years, directs a meandering, rusty, weedy flow of water onto the 66’ beach road allowance. It is unsightly, and the water eliminates or makes unpleasant most of the space where Tiny residents might put down a towel and enjoy a day at the beach. Near the Bay, where the water pools (and where users of the beach often create a drainage channel), geese paddle and leave their droppings.

In some areas, open ditches dug beside a Concession Road have been directed onto the beach. The flow of water washes away the sand, exposes the rocky underlay, and leaves little place for anyone to settle down and stay. Here’s the 66’ “public beach” at the 14th.

The passage of the “Environment First” OP, has not prevented the Township from continuing to direct storm water effluent to its parts of the shore and out into the Bay.

The new culvert at Balm is certainly better than the two battered pipes that used to emerge at this point in the cove, but it’s still far from ideal. (Balm, like the 8th, was posted a number of times last year.)

The new culvert at Siesta Drive, which drains ditches from the Perri subdivision in Woodland Beach, sits right in the centre of the beach road allowance. Questions were directed to staff and Council as soon as local residents realized that this culvert was being installed. A formal deputation was made, but the culvert went in anyway. (Siesta Drive was subject to many postings last summer.)

The installation of such culverts is in clear contravention of the spirit of the OP, which says things like –

The public and private beach areas in the municipality are considered to be an important natural resource which should be carefully managed to ensure that its use does not have an impact on the environment and adjacent residential areas.

And again:

Georgian Bay and Farlain Lake and other inland lakes are considered to be significant environmental features and should be protected to ensure that their water quality and ecological functions are not compromised.

It is high time to find new ways of managing storm water so that more public parts of the beach are not destroyed in the future, and so that the mistakes of the past can be reversed. If the Township were to manage those parts of the shore that it owns well, and make them attractive, at least some of the pressure currently faced by adjacent private landowners would be alleviated.