Pleasant Point Land Controversy Splits Neighbours
By Kirk Winter
At the Committee of the Whole meeting on January 22, the issue that generated the most heat was a City decision to surplus for sale the road allowance known as Jessie Avenue located at Pleasant Point.
For more than 100 years, this road allowance has been accessible to all the inhabitants of Pleasant Point, and in particular has allowed those on back lots to stroll and walk their dogs so they too can enjoy the spectacular views of Sturgeon Lake.
For many years, there was a consensus among the property owners that this pathway was good for community unity, and encouraged a sense of community that morphed into regular waterfront corn roasts and parties.
No one restricted traffic or put up barriers because it was clear to all that the municipality owned the property. That all changed when the City decided to surplus the road allowance, and at least two of the current waterfront owners put in applications to buy their portion of the waterfront.
Three presenters spoke in favour of the City decision to surplus the road allowance. All stated, with various examples, the frustrations they have had with a handful of Pleasant Point residents whose animals, ATVs and careless children have spoiled their cottage experience. One cottager said his decision to buy the waterfront road allowance was prompted by discussions with the local OPP detachment who said they could far more easily respond to trespassing and theft reports if the land ownership was not in question. One resident shared stories of a back lot neighbour and his family accessing Jessie Avenue to bathe and do dishes off docks that did not belong to them. Another presenter detailed incidents of theft off his dock, and constant trespassing on his dock and in his boathouse by those accessing the road allowance.
These three presenters said they had no desire to block or limit access to Jessie Avenue even after their purchase, but did make it clear that any incidents that impacted their property and enjoyment of it would be reported to the appropriate authorities.
Dozens of other presenters, either in person or via letters and e-mails, beseeched the City to keep ownership of Jessie Avenue and not surplus the property to public sale. The general messages from those opposed to the sale of Jessie Avenue were that the ill will it would create in the community would be devastating, and that this is a Pleasant Point problem. With help from the City, they felt the bulk of the residents would like time to come up with a solution that is Pleasant Point specific, and respects the long and colourful history of cottages on the Point.
Deputy Mayor Elmslie, Councillors Dunn, Yeo and Ashmore all encouraged the residents to work together to come up with compromise that doesn’t split the community. Deputy Mayor Elmslie also hoped that a cottage association could be formed to bring residents together. The assistance of the City Solicitor was offered, and Councillor O’Reilly hoped for a public meeting on the Victoria Day weekend.
The City will hold off on surplusing Jessie Avenue until these meetings occur, and look forward to a solution coming from the Pleasant Point community sooner than later.