Gov’t inaction at James Beach could set precedent

Opinion

To the Editor:

This is regarding a situation at James Beach (also known as Black Point Beach) in Black Point, Pictou County. My concern surrounds the actions of a local beachside landowner who has filled in the public beach area below the high water mark (HWM) with a large breakwater type structure of many tons of boulders with no permits or approvals. The landowner had concerns with the natural beach erosion process and sought to protect their remaining land, but they went far beyond what is reasonable.

The result of the boulder placing is that the beach is now impassable except for at extremely low tide, and even then with those boulders slowly sliding into the sea it’s going to get worse by the day.

A group of concerned citizens has been actively working on getting this recognized by Minister of Lands and Forestry Ian Rankin as an illegal activity, without success.

Left unchallenged this situation will set a dangerous and undesirable precedent all around the province. I’m quite sure that lawyers and property owners along every coast are closely watching what happens at James Beach. If this casual claiming of the public waterlot jurisdiction by a private owner is allowed to remain in place we are going to see other owners dumping massive loads of stone and building structures adjoining their seaside properties wherever they feel like it, both to create new land and to deliberately prevent the public from travelling along the coast in the public foreshore below HWM.

This is the time to act in the James Beach infilling issue, to send a clear message that private owners are not to interfere with the Crown’s jurisdiction and the public use of Crown lands. Letting this go will cause issues and suffering for generations of Nova Scotians. If this is allowed, there will be no turning back for the others who will follow suit and start blocking and filling in, with no concern for permits and regulations.

The government needs to take swift action here and to force the landowners at James Beach to restore the beach below OHWM and to refrain from further works at this location.

John van Gurp

Halifax, NS