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Readers chime in on Wahnekewening beach talks, Tiny deputant's quotes

‘Public access to the beach from the 13th parking area has never been an issue for our community,’ cites beachfront owner
Mark VanderHeyden (top right) of the Wahnekewening Beach Association claimed words from his deputation to Tiny council were taken out of context in a MidlandToday article, regarding Plan 763 Block A beach access.

A recent MidlandToday article regarding delineation markers at Wahnekewening Beach raised the association’s deputant's ire.

The January 18 article titled “Beach group urges Tiny council to 'do the right thing'“, about the Wahnekewening Beach Association opposition to delineation markers on their properties in Tiny Township, quoted spokesman Mark VanderHeyden replying to a question from Coun. Gibb Wishart regarding public access to the beach.

During the deputation at Tiny committee of the whole, Wishart inquired if the public, including his wife and grandchildren, could use the sands of Plan 763 Block A from the adjacent Concession 13 access as a beach area. VanderHeyden stated yes.

“Do you feel that there’s no risk of the public coming and going onto the lot where the residents are? Do you feel that there’s no need to show the public that there’s a reason to honour somebody’s privacy?” asked Wishart.

“That is absolutely true,” replied VanderHeyden. “I’ve been there for 35 years, my wife’s been there her entire life.

“I’ve never had the public walk up to our cottage edge, and as I said in my deputation we really shouldn’t be encouraging any of the public using the beach, the primary reason for going there or even climbing over dunes coming back to that area.

“To answer your question, we’ve had no reported conflicts and no concerns ever reported of the public coming near our property edge,” concluded VanderHeyden.

In response to the January 18 article, VanderHeyden contacted MidlandToday with objections to the quote, stating it was taken out of context.

“I never said that the public shouldn't be using the beach -- our community is one of the few that have welcomed public use for years, well before Tiny acquired the property,” wrote VanderHeyden.

“My comment was that the public shouldn't be crossing the dunes to access the area behind them, our wells and our properties. Public access to the beach from the 13th parking area has never been an issue for our community - it's unfair to make it one.”

He added, “we were discussing the beach block that abuts our property that is behind the dunes. That is what I was saying should not be used. You took it out of context to make it appear that I don't think the public should use the sand beach, which is not true. It is misleading and causes goodwill issues.”

Reader Robert Rusin also chimed in.

“You added a word in parentheses, (in), to Mr. VanderHeyden’s quote and therefore spun his comments in a direction that misrepresented his actual statements,” wrote Rusin to MidlandToday. “Mr. VanderHeyden clearly stated that we should not be encouraging those who are using the beach to be coming over the dunes. In no way was he discouraging people from exercising their legal right to use the beach.”

Tiny council received the deputation from the Wahnekewening Beach Association and will look to a report from staff regarding the matter in an upcoming meeting of council.

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.

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Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Derek Howard covers Midland and Penetanguishene area civic issues under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.
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