Owen Sound Sun Times Editorial: Janice Jackson, The Beach, Plovers

Leah Articles, Local News

Editorial originally posted September 2, 2011

Editorial by Brian Hurley, Owen Sound Sun Times

Much has been written about the above three subjects and I would like to address these from a tax paying, North Sauble resident/beach users point-of-view.

Janice Jackson is a North Sauble Beach resident and the duly democratically elected representative for our area. She deserves respect for her office and her person. I have found her to be approachable, truthful, and forthright. She doesn’t dodge the issues and will ask the hard questions. She is above all things totally competent to hold this office and represents the majority of the people in her district. The respect that I talk about seems to be lacking from Mr. Craig Gammie who ran for council and lost to Ms. Jackson. Since that loss Mr. Gammie has attacked Ms. Jackson from all sides dispensing “verbal bile” at every opportunity (read his blogs). I attended the MNR council meeting and after reading Gammie’s summation I swear he was at another location or didn’t catch the flavour of the presentation. The MNR had standard scripted answers and danced around as Ms. Jackson plied them for clarity. The questions were direct, varied, and sought answers now and not in the far off future. Gammie suggests that Janice doesn’t know the beach when in reality she lives less than 100 metres from it. “She needs to take that walk” says Gammie. I suggest Mr. Gammie that you need to walk North, deeply inhale and open your eyes and acknowledge that there are others with a different view than yours. He actually dismisses 30 something emails from residents who want action on a beach clean up as not representative of the area. Janice Jackson speaks for us because we DO count and we DO have a voice and it is getting stronger. That is not arrogant that is not fraudulent (Gammie’s words). That is elected representation. I have personally talked to at least 20 or more families who reside in the area and all agree that the beach is at its worst in memory and needs to be dealt with.

The Beach – I have been coming here 50 years or more and of course there have been changes. However the one constant is that it always has been a people beach. Large and clear B-E-A-C-H. I find it intrusive of people who want to change what we have to suit their new found vision and their target is North Sauble Beach. Although the North doesn’t see the crowds that 6th Street South to Main Street get it is where we bought property and pay taxes because of the beach and access and use of it. Because it is more isolated does not mean we want it changed to a drift wood plugged grassland containing invasive species and poison ivy etc. (FOSB, MNR documented). I find it quite irritating that Peter Middleton came from Owen Sound (Letters To The Editor) and spent all of 12 hours here on Canada Day weekend and found everything wonderful here in “Plover Land”. “No one was denied access to the beach”. Where were you in April, May, June, and July over the last 4 years when the ministry sectioned off 500 metres per nest and then lowered it down to 50 metres only now trying to reinstate the 500 m? At the moment we are only dealing with 3 or more nests.imagine 20.30.or 100? Yes, we would lose the beach under the present conditions and that is why we want compromise. In some areas you could not walk the shoreline. The plover barriers kept moving (who would do that?) There are so many inconsistencies regarding the beach and its uses. How about South of Main Street where the beach is plowed and scraped and driven on? Nobody seems to want to raise any issues there! Peter Middleton aligns himself with Craig Gammie and in doing so loses credibility. Just read acid tongued Gammie’s blogs to get my drift. Middleton dismisses the voices against their vision as “self righteous, indignant, a small but vociferous group” – WELL RIGHT BACK AT YA! Your pomposity to change our beach to your vision and you don’t live here? – Spare me please!

Plovers – The beach was being raked when the first plover arrived. Bravo! I wouldn’t hurt any of them. Until this summer I personally didn’t have many issues with the beach and the birds. However, I drew a line in the sand in May when I was greeted by a 2 metre wide swath of drift wood and logs the entire length of the North Beach. An adult could not walk bare foot through it let alone a small child. I called Janice Jackson and she updated me on the MNR etc. etc. As I have stated this is a people beach and more and more are coming. As noted by Mr. Middleton the plover is quite an adaptable bird so give it it’s 50 metre perimeter around the nesting site and surround it with the sticks that it needs. Hand rake the rest for our families. All parties have some good ideas and you see……that is compromise. That is exactly what Ms. Jackson and us North Enders are willing to do but Mr. Gammie and others are not. Ms. Jackson represents, has a mandate, and speaks for all. People who want a wilderness beach and want to play Robinson Caruso on North Sauble.please find another island.

Comments in response to the Editorial

In discussions with partners, the following inconsistencies were noted in this article:

  • The distance where person access is restricted around a nest is 50m (in some cases less where site-specific conditions make 50m impossible). There is no intent to increase restricted access areas (e.g. fences/barriers) beyond 50m.
  • The highest number of nesting pairs of Piping Plover on Sauble since 2007 has been 3.
    Fencing (barriers) are not mobile. Once erected, they are permanent until removed completely. The only changes occurring to these fences are to re-erect posts that high wave activity has pulled down.
  • More often, it is the lake levels that change creating the illusion of mobile fencing. Posts are pounded into the sand, and moving the fences is not an easy task. Moving fences may also increase disturbance to the plovers.
  • The amount of driftwood on the beach is variable. In 2011, April reports contained a debris-free beach (potentially huge problems for any returning plovers). A single storm late April/early May deposited large amounts of driftwood. These are natural processes, and the driftwood is an essential component of habitat, especially for the young Piping Plovers.
  • The area of habitat around the nest (in this article referred to as the 500m) is essential for the survival of chicks. Families rarely remain within the 50m radius area surrounding the nest once chicks have hatched. Activities that remove habitat within the defended territory of the families would be damaging or destroying, which is prohibited under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act.