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Tiny to submit rare shoreline bylaw for Great Lakes best practice award

Successful 2023 halt on shoreline development chosen for Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative award submission, with deputy mayor hoping to ‘help other municipalities that are facing similar issues’
The public beach front along Balm Beach in Tiny Township, where shoreline alteration and beach encroachment is a concern for residents and the municipality.

Tiny Township has already won a Wege award in 2023, and are gearing up for another with last year’s interim control bylaw.

Submissions to enter for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative close at the end of February, and a letter from the Severn Sound Environmental Association to the municipality of Tiny gave a nudge in case the award-winning township had intention to run again for 2024.

At the recent committee of the whole meeting, Coun. Steffen Walma brought the communication up along with a suggestion caught from earlier in the meeting.

“The Township of Tiny was successful in getting the Wege award,” said Walma, “and I think it’s one of those small things – but it shows that we’re putting the right foot forward for environmental protections.

“As our representatives at the GLSLCI, I would love it if we put forward an application over our shoreline alteration bylaw – more specifically, that we enacted an interim control bylaw in the interim. 

“Because… that is a big deal,” Walma emphasized. “Most municipalities wouldn’t do something like that.”

Controversial Georgian Bay development along Tiny Township’s shoreline reached a head in May 2023 as the conflict between residents and private homeowners prompted the municipality to enact a shoreline alteration interim control bylaw to halt development of boathouses, fences and retaining walls within 30 metres of the 178-metre high water mark contour.

Although the rarely-instituted municipal tool only lasted for a one-year hard limit, the contested manoeuvre bought time for Tiny to craft and pass a formal shoreline development bylaw.

As recently as the previous meeting, the instance of an Ontario Land Tribunal challenge was met with the stonewall of the interim control bylaw, prompting Mayor Dave Evans to state at that time it was “a direct attack (on the bylaw)”.

Said Walma regarding the Wege proposal: “I think even if we don’t win, it’s a story worth sharing because there are going to be other municipalities that are in the same boat talking about shoreline protections. If they see there are other municipalities making that step, they can use us as a template and potentially garner the courage to do something as extreme as an interim control bylaw.”

Deputy Mayor Sean Miskimins called Walma’s suggestion “a fantastic idea,” and echoed that the interim control bylaw was a thing “we should be proud of, highlighting and putting out for the public to espouse what can be done, and help other municipalities that are facing similar issues.”

The comments followed Evans’ own praise of planner Kathy Suggitt of MHBC Planning, and of the municipal planning team. “I find this incredibly vindicating,” he shared.

Staff were directed to submit the shoreline alteration bylaw project as a consideration for the submission deadline before the end of the month.

Tiny Township won the Wege Small Cities Sustainability Best Practices award in 2023 for its renaturalization project of removing pavement at Wyebridge Park for installation of a pollinator habitat.

The Wege best practice award details can be viewed on the agenda page on the Township of Tiny website.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on the 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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