OPINION: Conservation Authority foiling effort to save shoreline

Lake Huron shoreline erosion in Brights Grove

Kristen Rodrigues

The Journal published two stories last week about Sarnia council eyeing a major investment to save the Bright’s Grove shoreline from Lake Huron’s encroachment.

I have read a lot of stories lately regarding taxpayer money being spent to make regular emergency repairs on the city’s lakeshore properties. These stories get more and more outrageous to me because of the hypocrisy involved.

The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority has no objections when it comes to protecting city-owned lands, but apparently everyone else’s land can just fall in the lake.

Sarnia’s public beaches are but a blip on the radar of a very large shoreline comprised mainly of privately owned lands, yet you’d never know they’re also suffering.

Unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to live in Bright’s Grove where you have a sitting councillor advocating for a seawall to protect the community’s entire shoreline.

Not sure if Coun. Margaret Bird’s statement was appropriate, but it certainly was disrespectful to the rest of the contributing taxpayers of Sarnia and Lambton County.

The story that should be told is that of the privately owned lands abutting Lake Huron. While Sarnia is being handed emergency funding and using tax dollars for its shoreline, private landowners are hurting.

Individuals willing to spend their own money to replace or install new protective infrastructure have to deal with the wildly out-of-control, red tape bureaucracy of the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority.

The authority, which has the power to issue permits, is actually warning people not to repair their damaged shore and let nature take its course, or be prosecuted. I am sure it believes in this ideology, but to me it’s idiot-ology.

It’s OK to take taxpayer dollars to repair and protect city-owned shorelines, but it’s not OK for private property owners to use their own funds to protect their own investments?

Some of the coast is now in very bad condition directly because of the conservation authority. It has not worked in a positive, meaningful or cost-effective way to allow people trying to deal with high waves and water levels.

It puts value in city-owned lands, but has no non-prohibitive allowance for others.

If we take the advice of the conservation authority and let nature take its course, we have to ask why our tax dollars are being used to fund an organization more intent on losing land than protecting it.

Its stance on lake erosion is reckless, needless and harmful to property owners, their investments, and the wellbeing of the environment — all in one disturbing foul swoop.

The City of Sarnia and other municipalities within the authority’s jurisdiction should be working with their tax base to allow citizens the same privileges they are afforded by the authority.

Stop the hypocrisy.

 

Kristen Rodrigues is a Plympton-Wyoming resident and member of the Shoreline Erosion Collective Coalition. Contact her at secc.lambton@gmail.com