Some residents want changes to Southampton Dunes


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At the recent Southampton Residents' Association (SRA) meeting held Saturday at the Bruce Country Museum and Cultural Centre, the issue of dunes on the Southampton beach once again reared its head.

According to the Beach sub-committee Chair, Rod McLeod, the committee had been expanded to  "... try to include residents from each section of the beach, from the South Beach to the North Shore and there are now two to four representatives from each area."

McLeod explained to those at the meeting that a number of years ago volunteers had planted beach grass in an attempt to stop wind erosion of sand blowing up the side streets away from the beach, with an agreement that the town would maintain walkways to the beach areas. 

McLeod went on the say that, apparently, the grasses had become over-grown and that they were inundated with weeds and scrub trees.  He also said that, in the Harmer Street area near the pumping station, the town had not maintained the area and that dunes were actually becoming small hills.

The majority of concern over the dunes appeared to be the blocking of the lake view for summer residents living along the beach. 

"A large pile of dirt was left by the Town that has become a sand hill," he said. "It is approximately 25 ft. high and a hundred feet long."  He added that the area was becoming a major congregating spot for young people involved in alcohol and other activities during the summer nights.

The committee also took umbrage with the Town for planting memorial trees between the area and Gerry's Fries, a local beach food outlet, without consultation with the SRA committees.

The SRA then explained that it had decided to hire the services of an independent Toronto consultant to determine if the sand hill is, in fact, a dune.  The cost for hiring the consultant is being absorbed  by the SRA as the town declined to cost-share.

"The area in question is a regulated one," said Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA), Doug Frieburger.  "The Authority is governed by regulations under the Conservation Authority Act.  If the regulations call for a permit to be issued before any work can be done, then it has to go through the Ministry of Natural Resources.  The first step is to see if, in fact, a permit to make changes is even needed."

According to McLeod, the Town's Chief Administration Officer (CAO), Larry Allison, said that town staff were recommending not doing anything.

When asked why the town had declined to cost-share for a consultant, Mayor Smith added that he suspected the rationale was to see if a permit was needed.  "I don't think we should spend $4,000 for a consultant and then find that nothing can be done anyway.  The SVCA has complete authority so I think we should try to work with them and determine what the regulations are first."

SRA President, Ken Robertson, a suggestion that the SRA Beach Committee meet with Town staff in the spring of each year before the beach season starts and document concerns with a further follow-up meeting in the fall to assess whether any progress had been made.

Councilor, Thead Seaman said that, in the 1970s, he had in fact done construction along the beach and, at that time, had removed some of the dunes.  "I am in favour of hiring an outside consultant who can provide another set of eyes for a different perspective."

Councilor Victoria Serda then explained that the Towns Parks & Trails Committee now had authority over the waterfront given that the Town had disbanded the Waterfront sub-Committee.  "There will definitely be future discussions about this issue," she said, "but there is a protocol that says concerns should be directed to the Parks & Trails Committee for first consideration." 

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Sunday, July 18, 2010