Reporter’s Notebook: Cape Chin South Residents Want Their Privacy Back

By John Francis

Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula’s February 8, 2020 Meeting will begin with a delegation/petition from Barry and Sue Robinson of Cape Chin South. They will ask — extremely politely if their supporting materials are any indication — that MNBP do something, (ANYTHING) to resolve the constant inappropriate activity at the municipal property at 60 Carter Road.

Their brief begins: “We cannot imagine the level of anxiety and frustration this crisis must have caused you in your efforts to control the problems across the entire municipality. We deeply appreciate the efforts of members of council and officials in Bylaw, Public Works and Fire Departments in dealing with these problems.”

“Visitors to the public access at Cape Chin South began arriving in March of 2020 at the start of the pandemic. In spite 

of signs clearly banning public access, visitors continued to drive their vehicles onto the property, ignoring posted signage and visiting the shoreline almost every day of the ban. The number of visitors continued to increase throughout the month of April and into May. We were astounded by the sheer number of visitors…”

 At the height of season, “75 to 100 vehicles were accessing the property on a weekly basis”. 

“According to license plates viewed on the property, visitors were coming from the GTA, municipalities of Kitchener, Guelph, Hamilton, Windsor and other parts of Ontario, the provinces of Quebec, the Maritimes, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia and, in spite of the border~crossing ban, the states of Washington, Ohio and Michigan”.

Their conclusion, characteristically droll and polite: “Clear signage, by itself, has proven to be an ineffective way of regulating activity at the public access”.

Overnight camping happened frequently, despite clear signage forbidding it. “One couple from Alberta were observed early one morning outside their large recreational trailer taking their picture beside the NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING sign.”

But a lack of signage is even worse. “Shoreline is disappearing,” the Robinsons write, “but it is not just because of rising lake levels. Over the years, vehicles have been able to access this property and remove shore stone from Cape Chin South. There were at least 24 incidents of visitors engaging in this activity over the past year. We even sent the municipality a photo of one such visitor loading the back of his truck with stones. One visitor who was loading the bags of his ATV with stones was reminded that he was breaking both municipal and provincial laws in doing so. He pointed out that there were no signs posted stating such violations and continued to do so. He was soon joined by a family member who joined him in loading the bags of a second ATV with stones. You will recall that we asked council last July to post signs clearly stating the laws about removing shore stone and the fines for doing so. That did not happen.”

The Robinsons point out that similar problems were occurring at the end of Carter Road, where it abuts White Bluff/Smokey Head Provincial Nature Reserve but that a lockable gate (allowing access to emergency vehicles) kept the cars out and a cement barrier reduced ATV traffic to near zero. They request a similar solution at 60 Carter Road.

They would also request a good deal of signage. They would like “clear signage indicating: PUBLIC ACCESS PARKING on the west side of Carter Road directly south of the access, a wide shoulder that currently exists with space for 4 or 5 vehicles and signage on the gate that clearly states that littering, overnight camping, fires, removal of shore stone and dumping of waste on this property are violations of municipal and provincial law with the appropriate fines listed.

Council will have similar — if less well articulated — issues at many other water accesses in MNBP.