Environmental groups participated in a hearing this week to try to uphold a stop work order that blocks the Town of South Bruce Peninsula from disrupting piping plover habitats.
South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson says that the beach is an important asset to the town, and maintaining it is their duty. She says that the town has no intention of destroying piping plover habitats, and hopes that a compromise can be reached with the environmental groups.
Ecojustice Lawyer Sue Tan says that to put it simply, intensive beach grooming that harms piping plover habitats is against the law. She says that Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects the plovers, and it's up to the town to comply if they have work they would like to carry out on their beaches.
Tan tells us that Sauble Beach is considered to be vital habitat for the endangered piping plover. She says their efforts during this week’s hearing aimed to ensure that actions taken by the ministry to protect an endangered species under the Act are effectively enforced.
Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature allege that the Town’s continued practice of beach grooming harms piping plover habitat and does not comply with the ESA's requirement to preserve and protect endangered species’ habitat.
The groups say that when the Town ''grooms'' the shores of Sauble Beach, it runs the risk of sweeping away the birds' nests and leaves them exposed to predators.
Mayor Jackson says that progress has been made in negotiations with the environmental groups over the summer, and says the Town has raked the beach in areas where there were no piping plover nests, which she says is all that Town officials wants to do.
She says they have no desire to negatively impact the piping plover population, and tells us the Town of South Bruce Peninsula is proud to have the endangered birds call the beach home.