sand duneIn response to the shocking report tabled before the Council of The Town of South Bruce Peninsula (TSBP), on November 17, 2020 (Report No: PWSO-2020), I challenge the report’s raison d’être, and its short and long term impact on the dunes that separate the open beach from Lakeview Boulevard.

Undue haste and lack of information have been exercised by the Council of the TSBP in pursuing the proposal. The timeline for completion of the planned work before December left a window of only10 days!. That being the case why wait until November 17th to lay the proposal before Council? How can the proposal be approved contingent on a plan that still has to be finalized and approved before a permit can be issued? This is a pattern Council has employed before: move quickly, do work on the basis of false assumptions, ignore public input and ignore regulations outlined in the Ontario Endangered Species Act. With work completed, damage inflicted, without meaningful public input is heard, this council has previously displayed an arrogant superiority. Two previous peremptory beach management projects resulted in charges being laid against the Council. Council was found guilty of beach damage and habitat destruction in both instances.Council's appeal of the second case awaits a decision, which will be released in March. This current proposal fits the same mould. It is a cynical and manipulative attempt to advance a dubious public works agenda under the guise of “on street parking improvements”. The proximity of the dunes to the epicentre of beach activity combined with their narrow, low profile, exposes them to damage caused by excessive use. They provide an essential protective barrier from wind and water that is brutally obvious in the extreme high lake levels. One simply has to look at the area used for parking immediately north of Main Street to see what happens during storms. Waves have regularly pushed onto Lakeshore Boulevard, flooding it and depositing sand and flotsam over the surface of the roadway. That does not occur where the target dunes are located.

Compromising the integrity of beach dunes that provide essential habitat components for Piping Plover, is also a major concern. The dunes in the target area are already amongst the most vulnerable at Sauble, yet they have proven to be an important component of the beach, attractive to Piping Plovers. The section has been used regular nesting territory for Piping Plover over the past twenty years. No assessment has been forthcoming regarding possible impacts on the dune system as a whole. Removal of sand from the established dunes will have environmental repercussions. The Piping Plover will have to deal with any long term consequences. No one knows at this time what those might be.

Sauble Beach is not simply empty lakeshore waiting to be developed: it is a rare natural heritage. The current Council is entrusted with maintaining this irreplaceable landscape. It is not simply property, the sole purpose of which is to boost tourism and the town's bottom line. Responsible management of Sauble Beach must include commitment to ensuring the integrity of this heritage, a spectacular, and rare, sand beach on Lake Huron's shores, for the future, This includes protection of an endangered species while hosting tourists who wish to experience Sauble's well renowned sands. The beach is an essential component of the community’s identity. To ensure its future, vision and values are required. These are not qualities measured in terms of opportunistic political gain and quick economic return. Vision and values define an understanding of natural heritage and its increasing importance in an overpopulated world, both for humans and other species. The proposal to engineer the dunes and stabilize them with an inappropriate bulwark of stonework exhibits neither. It is simply crass political skullduggery. It is an ill conceived and destructive proposal being pursued with undue haste and consideration.

Actions outlined in Report No: PWSO - 2020 Lakeshore Boulevard On-Street Parking Improvement cannot proceed without full consultation including affected partners, a public review, and an open environmental assessment as required under the Endangered Species Act of Ontario. None of these has been undertaken and cannot be achieved within the stipulated timeline. The report and its proposed action must not proceed.


Peter Middleton
Owen Sound