Moving to attract more tourism to the Ipperwash area
The Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation took more steps toward taking control of their lands on Friday.
Band leaders say they are intent on bringing back tourists to the area.
Chippewas of the Kettle and Stony Point Chief Tom Bressette says a government decision to block off the beaches linking the two communities has stifled tourism to the area.
"A lot of people used to vacation here and since that happened it sort of dried up and the economic interests kind of left,” he says.
Some of the steps being taken to draw tourists back have sparked concerns, including charging for parking on the beach, but the head of the West Ipperwash Property Owners Association supports the plan.
"There's always costs involved when it comes to having garbage picked up and our First Nation neighbours have decided they'll take care of doing that for us and that all costs money,” says Greg Harness.
He says a majority of the approximately 80 property owners in the association have agreed with the arrangements, but not everyone is on side.
Property owner John Putschli says he disagrees with the decision to stop boaters launching from the beach.
"Storms come up here very quickly. If you need to get your boat out, you need to get your tractor and get it in and out. The only other launch is on the reserve part, but it's a five mile trip around the point."
Bressette spoke with Putschli and says he's willing to listen to all concerns.
“That’s the only way good neighbours get along is when there's something that creates an impediment between the two they work to remove it. They don’t build it higher."
The band also took formal control of the Ipperwash park on this day, after decades of land claims disputes and the 1995 shooting death of Dudley George.
Bressette says the park will be open to visitors and will include installations that tell the history of the Kettle and Stony Point people.
Paid parking problems
While the beaches in Ipperwash are adding paid parking, Sauble Beach is hoping an end to paid parking - as high as $15 a day - will help halt the decline in visitors.
Paid parking was instituted seven years ago, and while 34,000 parking passes were issued in 2006, just 12,000 were handed out in 2013.
Still, the decision to return to free parking was not unanimous.
Those in favour of paid parking wonder how the community will pay for the $300,000 a year needed to maintain the beach, a portion of which has been coming from parking fees.
While most business owners believe the impact will be positive, they are divided on whether the impact will be immediate, or take years to be felt.