Photos by Paterson Media
Two Grey-Bruce leaders met this weekend (May 21st) on what has been a long legal battlefield, but there were no fighting words, only suggestions of future co-operation.
The leaders were Saugeen First Nation Chief Conrad Ritchie and South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Garry Michi.
They were attending the celebration by the Saugeen Band of the court decision that resulted in the extension of the Band’s land boundary of an additional 1.4 miles or 2.25 kilometers. The Ontario Court granted the Saugeen First Nation full control of the northern section of the renowned Sauble Beach, which attracts millions of tourists each year.
The event on Sunday attracted hundreds of First Nations people and non-indigenous visitors. It ran all day under sunny skies and featured drumming, other entertainment and free lunch and dinner for all.
I chatted with Chief Ritchie congratulating him on the court victory and told him I understood the struggle his people have experienced over the beach claim and that I wanted to witness the celebration.”
The Chief said this is one issue that has been resolved after decades of legal wrangling and he “… was thrilled to see so much community support at the event”.
South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Michi joined our chat and both leaders expressed optimism that all issues regarding the beach and nearby road will be peacefully resolved.
The Mayor promised continued dialogue and co-operation with the band. He said he was there to support his neighbours and witness the celebration first-hand. “We have agreed to get together and talk about the issue of who owns the road beside the beach,” said Michi.
Michi’s town, South Bruce Peninsula, has appealed the court decision arguing that the eastern boundary has not been clearly defined and needs to be, as it relates to the ownership of Lakeshore Road, which runs north-south beside the northern section of Sauble Beach. Michi said earlier the town needs boundary clarification in writing and a guarantee that public access will continue on the beach.
Chief Ritche also said earlier that the beach will be “… business as usual with visitors welcome as they always were”. He promised to work with the town to make things work.
Restaurant customers and cottagers we talked with, all said they hoped that things would get back to normal so that everyone can enjoy Sauble Beach.
It is clear the last chapter of this story has yet to be written.