Municipal barriers that have been in place for 40 years to protect Ipperwash Beach from vehicles have been removed.

Members of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation removed the barriers Friday and vehicles could be seen driving on the beach west of the boundary of the former Ipperwash Provincial Park, in a move that could pit communities against each other.

First Nations say they're exercising their rights, but cottage owners argue it's their property that's about to be rolled over.

"It's in our treatise. This land was never ceded to anyone so I don't know how come people just usurp authority over another nation's land without even talking to them," Chief Thomas Bressette said.

"We've used it before people lived here. They came along - the Ministry of Natural Resources, the OPP and the local municipality - and closed this beach off without our consent."

The move has angered local cottagers and full-time residents who own land adjacent to the beach. They say they will strongly oppose the move.

Al Hannahson says his beach front home has been in his family since 1905.

"The deed that my grandfather was actually given at that time said that the property went to the water's edge."

There are also fears of falling property values and environmental damage.

"There'll be a very negative environmental impact that's been documented by the scientists," says resident Gerald Rupke

"There will be increased erosion. There will be harm to the ecosystem and there'll be danger to the people using the beach."

Meanwhile, a statement from the First Nation states that improved accessibility to all sections of the beach is part of the Ipperwash Beach Management Strategy implemented in May 2014.