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South Bruce Peninsula working on new permit application for beach wall

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South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson says the municipality is working to have a decorative retaining wall replace concrete barriers along a portion of Lakeshore Boulevard in time for next year’s tourist season.

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Jackson said Monday that the new permit process for the wall is well underway with the hope that it will be installed by the Victoria Day weekend next spring.

“It has always been about safety and we have lost the parking in that area for two summers now,” Jackson said. “That hurts our business community, it hurts our revenue as a town and people just have to part further away from the beach, so the tourists don’t like it either.

“But we have to provide safe parking for them and that is why this project is just so vital.”

Jackson made a Facebook post on Sept. 25, a day after an all-candidates meeting in Wiarton where there were a number of questions about the barriers and how candidates felt about removing them. She said unfortunately the question was never asked of her and she wanted to provide an update.

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In the post, Jackson said Coun. Kathy Durst accompanied her to Ottawa last month to meet with Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks David Piccini.

She said the minister immediately understood the safety issues the municipality is facing and made the project a priority.

“We are relieved with his position and we’re grateful for the assistance he’s given us,” Jackson wrote. “So hang in there, we should have the barriers removed in the early spring.”

The barricades were placed along Lakeshore Boulevard North from the Crowd Inn restaurant to about Culross Lane in May 2021 to stop sand dunes from encroaching towards the roadway. About 72 parking spaces are affected.

In the fall of 2020, the town had planned to cut back the sand that it said was creating a dangerous situation by forcing the tail ends of vehicles that parked along the stretch onto the travelled portion of the roadway and making it unsafe for pedestrians who walk along the road. Plans were in the works to install a wall to prevent the dunes from encroaching further, but the plan led to criticism and legal challenges about altering the dunes. Among those opposed to the work were the Saugeen Ojibway Nation and the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation.

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A Grey Sauble Conservation Authority permit the town had received for the job was overturned, and the Superior Court of Justice said the town would need to reapply for a new one.

Jackson said the town is now proposing to alter the wall in a way that it will have less of an impact on the dunes. While she couldn’t explain the changes in real detail, she said engineers are designing the back of the wall in a slightly different way.

She said the original design had the top of the dunes “feathered back” and she believes that is being altered so the dunes do not have to be touched beyond the wall at all.

“The design is almost done and the permitting process is almost done,” Jackson said. “The nice thing about the Minister of Environment is he is not just the head of the environment, but he is also the head of the conservation authorities across Ontario as well, and he has been a tremendous help.”

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Jackson said Chief Administrative Officer Bill Jones has been working diligently with both the ministry and the GSCA on the permit process. The town purchased the wall a couple of years ago when it had originally received the permit for the work and it is sitting in a works yard ready to be installed.

This past spring the town council discussed removing the barriers, but voted on April 5 to leave them installed for the summer. In the spring the town received authorization from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to clean up sand around the barricades.

Jackson said the long-term plan is to have the wall running the entire length of the beach, but due to cost it has to be done in stages.

“If we don’t do something we are going to have sand migrating right onto Lakeshore Boulevard,” Jackson said. “There are so many other beach towns that have this sort of retaining wall around their roadways against the beach.”

Jackson said the town’s shoreline engineer, Milo Sturm, has said a wall will actually help to stabilize the dunes, while it will also help stop people from walking through them by creating specific entrances to the beach.

“We get a lot of complaints that people are just traipsing through the dunes anywhere and everywhere,” she said. “This is going to force people to use specific entrances.”

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South Bruce Peninsula working on new permit application for beach wall Source link South Bruce Peninsula working on new permit application for beach wall

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