Tensions rise over First Nation's use of beach near scene of Ipperwash crisis
LAMBTON SHORES, Ont. - A southwestern Ontario mayor is calling for cooler heads to prevail after a First Nation tore down barriers and began driving vehicles along a stretch of beach running between its territories, angering area homeowners.
Kettle and Stony Point First Nation took down the gates blocking vehicle access to Ipperwash Beach on Lake Huron on Friday. The beach is adjacent to the former provincial park where aboriginal protester Dudley George was killed by police in a land dispute two decades ago.
Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber says First Nation members have walked along the beach to Ipperwash Park since the barricades went up in 1973, but that residents have safety and environmental concerns with vehicle traffic.
As tensions rise Weber wants the provincial and federal governments to step in to resolve the issue, saying that what's needed is discussion and not confrontation.
Kettle and Stony Point Chief Tom Bressette has said the beach route encompasses his band's "historical trails" and that the First Nation wasn't consulted when the barriers first went up between their two land areas.
Resident Mark Lindsay says his property rights are being violated as his cottage extends right to the water, and on Saturday set up a makeshift barrier using a picnic table as homeowners took to the beach in protest.