Short jagged stakes hammered into shallow water in Georgian Bay and an ominous ‘DANGER’ sign near a Balm Beach cottage are creating angst and concern among local residents who fear someone might be seriously injured.
“If a child was chasing a kite or a ball and tripped on one of those spikes that are just under the surface of the water; or a dog ran and jumped excitedly to get into the water and fell onto one ... I cannot even imagine the injuries that could happen,” said local resident Susie Mink, who noted that somebody could easily be impaled if they trip or stumble while walking near the stakes.
About half a dozen metal stakes can be seen just below the water’s surface in front of the waterfront property that’s only a couple hundred feet from the popular summer locale. The stakes seem to have been fashioned out of old sign posts and feature jagged edges where they’ve been cut.
Just before arriving at the stakes, however, a sign warns beach walkers travelling south along the smooth sand from Balm Beach. Written in red capital letters, the danger sign notes that ‘If crossing, be aware you CROSS AT YOUR OWN RISK.’
“I’m honestly appalled and disgusted at this especially and some of the actions waterfront owners are taking to satisfy their selfish needs,” said Mink, who also had a few choice words for the homeowner.
When reached in Toronto by MidlandToday, cottage owner Victor Minas said the stakes serve to outline his property.
“Those sticks are actually property-line markers,” Minas said. “I own right to the water’s edge. So anybody walking...there are private property signs everywhere.”
Minas said that if the stakes are actually in the water (which he would not own), he will let his surveyor know.
“We don't want to have anybody get hurt. But if there's anything in the water, then absolutely when I get up there next time, we'll take a look and if I can pull them out, I’ll pull them out.”
Residents concerned about the stakes have also contacted authorities.
Southern Georgian Bay OPP Const. David Hobson said police are aware of the situation and are looking into it.
Requests for comment from the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and federal department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada were not returned by press-time.
But Robin Pereira of the Balm Beach Community Association said her group is also concerned with the stakes and signage.
"It's extremely dangerous." said Pereira, whose family has owned a backlot cottage for several generations, going back to 1928. "I'm not saying they're planted for a particular reason, but someone's going to get hurt.
"Hopefully, it's not a child, but I can see it being a child or a pet. Hopefully, we can just get these removed and no one gets hurt."
Pereira said she's also concerned by the message the stakes and sign send and worries beachfront owners are forcefully trying to assert ownership over something that has been enjoyed by thousands of area residents, tourists and cottagers for generations.
Like Perreira, Mink fondly recalls when the beaches could be enjoyed by all.
“The beaches used to be a lovely, fun and amazing place to enjoy the sun and fresh water for Tiny residents and all of Midland, Penetang and surrounding areas,” she said. “I’m extremely saddened by all that is going on.”