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Beach group urges Tiny council to 'do the right thing'

Spokesman for Wahnekewening Beach Association claims ongoing municipal work ‘will clearly interrupt my view, my use, and my easement rights’
Mark VanderHeyden (top right), representing the Wahnekewening Beach Association, provided a mock-up photo with superimposed delineation post on his property as part of the group's deputation to Tiny council recently, in opposition to the township mapping program.

A Wahnekewening Beach Association (WBA) spokesperson brought concerns about intrusive delineation markers to Tiny council recently. But while speaking of unifying with township staff for a peaceful resolution, he was faced with questions regarding public beach use and hazardous wellhead exposure.

The deputation, provided by representative Mark VanderHeyden, was a sequel to a 2019 visitation to council regarding the definition of legal rights for the municipally-owned properties of Plan 763 Block B (the private lots of Wahnekewening Drive) and Block A (the vegetation and dunes) adjacent to sands and waters of Wahnekewening Beach north of Concession 13.

“I stood before you in 2019 following the interference with our association member rights on the beach,” said VanderHeyden, noting that included “the aggressive removal of owners’ property, our firepits, causing significant damage to our dunes, trauma and disruption in our community, and (disruption of) our recreational use.”

The contention was of easement rights to grant ‘free and uninterrupted use’ for the WBA within Block A, though purchased by Tiny in 2001. VanderHeyden noted that tens of thousands of dollars were spent over the past few years in a failed attempt to clarify legal rights of Block A.

Tiny’s delineation program to accurately define municipally-owned lands sparked the WBA into action, with the deputation being in opposition to the installation of delineation posts along the beach.

“Here’s the proposed location of the delineation post,” said 35-year resident VanderHeyden, pointing to a photo of his property with a superimposed post, “which will clearly interrupt my view, my use, and my easement rights. Construction at the edges of our property will not only disrupt these rights, which include my natural view of the beach and flow of my boat, but introduces risks of disrupting water lines or electrical lines that may service our wells and our pumps.”

In questioning the presentation, Coun. Gibb Wishart received confirmation that the beach was open to the public, and asked if there were risks of the public approaching the residential units. 

“We really shouldn’t be encouraging any of the public (in) using the beach” or accessing it by climbing dunes, replied VanderHeyden.

Coun. John Bryant took note of the WBA concerns that the superimposed delineation post was a hazard, and inquired about the exposed wellheads and the WBA responsibility of liability for their existence.

VanderHeyden admitted it was an issue which hung over the association’s heads and felt that their installation “from Day One” shouldn’t be a deciding factor in the WBA’s concerns.

Mayor George Cornell acknowledged the two concerns of easement definition and delineation intrusion, and informed VanderHeyden that the matter would return to staff for further explanation to be provided at a future meeting. 

“We have high expectations of reasonable people doing the right thing, and our hopes are that’s what we’ll do here,” responded VanderHeyden, which gained the praise of Cornell who shared the same sentiment.

The Wahnekewening Beach Association deputation and slides can be found as part of the committee of the whole agenda through the township website.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.