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Beaches Need a Clean-up

Posted by bob on Mar 4, 2012in Articles

Published Mascaret, Moncton, N.B.

If you meander along the sandy shoreline of East Brule from Cap Brule Road to the inlet separating Brule from Cap Bimet you’re struck by the plush firm sand under foot, the sparkling tidal pools resplendent with hermit crab, sand dollars, feeding shorebirds, bank swallows and man-made obstructions with jagged edges awaiting an unsuspecting victim.

At low tide the concrete blocks with rusting steel pipes protruding from their ends appear like sea anemones awaiting their prey.

At low tide they can be easily avoided. But when the tide moves in and children find themselves at play along the shore danger lurks beneath the seductive sparkling surface.

As a grandfather of five energetic and active children it bothers me to find these obstacles obstructing one of New Brunswick’s most pristine beach play-grounds. As a newly arrived home owner at the shore I enquired about the apparent WW II bunker remnants and their purpose. Local longtime residents suggested that years before they had been placed there to prevent beach erosion. The obvious question was by whom?

It was suggested that in years gone by it was acceptable to dump the trash into an eroding area in an attempt to prevent it from being absorbed by the sea. Apparently, at the time of the misdeed, there were no laws prohibiting the practice.  

Being somewhat direct I approached the property owner and asked about the debris and its purpose. I was summarily told to get off “his” beach and to stay off his beach or suffer the consequences that a trespassing claim might bring. As an added insult to my injured persona I was told to keep my grandchildren off his property or they would be dealt with accordingly.

This demand made of me by the cottage owner, Pierre Boudreau, came as a surprise.  Not only was it not the Acadian hospitality I had been assured of in the region when I bought the home but it defied all principals of the law governing beach usage on New Brunswick’s beaches.  Boudreau believed the sandy beach belonged to him.  From his front door all the way to where, P.E.I. directly across Northumberland Strait before us? As a matter of fact property owners only own the land above the highest high tide line of the year.  Everything below that watermark is public domain.  The man obviously was preying on the apathy and ignorance of his neighbors.

Boudreau’s bad attitude is not a trait of the peaceful Acadians I know. It is, in fact, the attitude of an old man obsessed with a need to own and control everyone and everything in his path.

I was not dissuaded and carried my investigation further. The sewage pumping station, adjacent to the Boudreau cottage, and running overflow drains underground and into the sea next to the pile of debris, was built in 1971. According to municipal authorities Boudreau’s father had negotiated the contract with the Village of Shediac to allow them to access the property where the pumping was to be located.

I began to wonder if anyone had obtained a variance to dump trash and concert blocks onto a public beach. If the debris is above the high-water mark it must belong to the owner. If the debris is below the high water mark it must belong to Environment New Brunswick or Environment Canada? Regardless of how it got there, someone needs to pay to have it removed.

The Beaubassin Planning Commission pleaded not guilty to the folly. They stated that they had had nothing to do with the dumping and had never given permission to fill any beach area along this shore. I pressed manager Ron Boudreau, of the Shediac Sewage Commission to give me an answer.  He finally proclaimed that a soon to be held meeting would resolve the problem. Unfortunately, two years later we are still awaiting the meeting.  

I think it’s time for property owners in conjunction with Environment New Brunswick, Environment Canada, and the Shediac Sewage Commission et al to remove the mess and return the beach to its original state.

Why am I so adamant?

Protecting your land, as long as the law permits, is fine. However, if as one property owner claims the entire beach is his, he should clean it up.  There are jagged edged rusty razor sharp outcroppings with the potential of inflicting significant damage to anyone who comes in contact with them. The time and distance required to get appropriate help to anyone seriously injured by these outcroppings may be too long and too late.        

Boudreau became belligerent, aggressive and threatening when I approached him with the suggestion that he clean up the mess on his property. . It appears that the only resolution can be found in the courts. Responding pro-actively has always proved to be the prudent way to approach a problem.  However, a lawsuit may be required to get the attention of Beaubassin Planning Commission, Shediac Sewage Commission and Beaudreau. Solving the problem now before someone is injured, and possibly seriously, is the right thing to do.  The cost to all, if an injury occurs, may be to high a price to pay for everyone.  

Common sense should prevail, however, “common sense is not so common.”

Bob Belliveau-Ferrin Lemieux
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