In 1995 the Saugeen Ojibway First Nation sued TSBP (then Amabel), claiming the beach at Sauble from main street to 704 feet north of sixth street. The lawsuit was inactive until 2012, when Mayor Close and the Town’s administrator entered secret mediation sessions with SOFN. The public has been kept completely in the dark.
Concerned about the secrecy and concerned that Mr. Close might be offering to give the beach away, Friends of Sauble Beach, with support of other community organizations, organized a public meeting for July 5 and also requested an audience with council.
Mr. Close responded by issuing a press release, and with a majority of council support denying the Friends of Sauble Beach an audience before council.
John Close’s press release confirms the giveaway rumour
A press release was issued Monday June 30, ostensibly by the town, but in fact by Mr. Close, without authorization of council, and without knowledge of council.
The release says:
…… the Town has entered mediation with the intent to ensure continued public access to Sauble Beach. ….
The message may not be explicit, but it is clear. If Mr. Close were firm in a position that we keep the beach, he would have said so. But he didn’t. By not saying that he is firm in keeping the beach, he implied that: “I’m giving up the beach but I will do my best to ensure that the residents of TSBP still have access.”
“Dear Residents – you can trust me – now shut up and go away”
Kathy Strachan, President of the community group Friends of Sauble Beach, applied to get before council to demonstrate the sheer insanity of Mr. Close’s actions and to try to convince council and Mr. Close to get off the “giveaway track”. A week ago Councillor Bowman supported the FSB request for audience by putting a motion on the July 2 agenda that council hear the FSB presentation. But when the motion came to a vote on July 2nd, councillor Janice Jackson alone stood up for the rights of the residents to participate meaningfully and to be heard. The other eight council members rebuffed Ms. Strachan and the residents, flatly denying the group an audience before council. Remarkably, Councillor Bowman turned on the residents and voted against her own motion. (Yes, that would be the same councillor Bowman who made the motion for free parking for tourists that is now costing the taxpayers $240,000 per year.)
The eight council members who voted against the residents were so determined that the truth not be told about the land claim that they were willing to publicly deny the public their right to participate in this very important policy decision.
As an aside I note that five of the council members who flipped the bird to the residents, namely John Close, Jay Kirkland, Jim Turner, Karen Klages, and Marilyn Bowman, are running for re-election. Some people are calling them the “shut-out-the-residents” candidates. (A few residents are calling them worse, but I cannot print the words).
The eight council members who shut out the residents out of the decision making seem to want the public kept in the dark until it is too late to change anything.
Mr. Close’s June 30 press release does promise a public meeting. The title reads:
“Town of South Bruce Peninsula in Sauble Beach Land Claim – Public to Have Input!
I believe this is a shallow promise. I believe the intent is to have a public meeting, tell us some things we already know, tell us that we must trust them as they have our best interests at heart, tell us not to worry, pretend to listen to a few residents, then go back into one of their secret meetings and sign an agreement to give the beach away.
We cannot let that happen.
To make sure that we don’t lose the beach a bunch of community organizations have organized our own public meeting, Saturday July 5, 2014 at 9:30 am at the Sauble Community centre, billed as “The Sauble land claim – What the town is NOT telling us”.
At the meeting it will be demonstrated how weak the SOFN claim is, how wrong John Close’s disastrous giveaway plan is, and what residents can do to stop John Close’s plan.
Please come to the meeting. Please let your voice be heard. Before it’s too late.
And please pass this on to as many residents as you can.