The world’s second-largest freshwater beach is at the centre of a dispute between a First Nation and an Ontario municipality.
Sauble Beach runs along the eastern shores of Lake Huron, on the northern edge of Saugeen First Nation and through the Town of South Bruce Peninsula.
Saugeen Chief Lester Anoquot says the beach is “not a land claim issue — it’s a boundary issue.”
“It’s very specific in our treaty that the boundary starts here at our border of Saugeen, and ends at nine and a half miles north, which would be 6th Street North, Sauble,” he says.
Anoquot says the disputed boundary has been unresolved for too long.
“We’ve attempted mediation for the past six years,” he says, adding South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson has not agreed to settle the dispute out of court.
“So we’ve put a summary judgement motion forward and presented to the courts,” he explains. “We expect to be in court to address the issue of boundary within six to nine months.”
Jackson declined to speak with APTN News.
But in a recent Facebook post she stated her disappointment over the matter.
“This Summary Judgement asks the Court to rule in their favour without going to trial,” she explains to her constituents.
Jackson also writes: “We have spent nearly 150 years building a vibrant community around our beach. Simply because he claims the beach belongs to his Band, doesn’t mean we should hand over the keys.”
Anoquot said that’s not exactly what he has in mind.
“Not a lot will change with the landscape,” he said, explaining the two businesses operating in the disputed area could lease the land from Saugeen. “Or we could do it ourselves.”
Anoquot said public access to the beach would remain the same, but that the band would move to prohibit vehicles from the beach, calling the common practice in South Bruce “an issue of environmental hazard and safety.”
The new motion is scheduled to be heard next year.