Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett and David Piccini, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, travelled to Normandale on July 7 to bring good news to residents of the hamlet on the Lake Erie shoreline.
“This is provincial land, will remain provincial land and will remain in public hands,” Barrett announced as a group of residents clapped and cheered.
“I am also very excited to announce that our government will begin the process to designate Normandale Beach and Potter’s Creek as an addition to Turkey Point Provincial Park.”
Barrett said the designation would provide people the opportunity to discover the historical and natural amenities of “what is truly a gem on Lake Erie.”
He noted the area includes a federal marker further up the creek marking the Van Norman Forge, which dates to 1816 as the first iron-making facility in Upper Canada.
The MPP lauded the efforts of area residents who recognized the value of the property and came together to ensure the area would remain in public hands.
Piccini said the announcement is the first expansion of provincial parks in more than a decade.
“We’re growing our Parks footprint for you, the people,” he said. “Parks are protected places for us and future generations.”
Norfolk County maintained the provincially owned beach for more than a decade, and attempted to purchase the roughly 1.6 acres from the Ministry of Natural Resources.
In March, discussions were held but Norfolk rejected the selling price as too high.
“Immediately it went on MLS three weeks later,” said Normandale resident William Murray, whose family has been in the area for five generations. “The worst thing that could have happened was this getting turned into a private beach, or building a house down here, privatizing it.”
Piccini explained that government has a disposition process, describing it as “flexible because, at its core we’re here to serve the people of this province.
“As part of the process, other ministries have the opportunity to put their hand up and say ‘Hey, we’d like this land,’” Piccini stated. “So we put our hand up and said ‘let’s keep it for the people’. I know what this means to the people of this community.”
Murray described the announcement as a best-case scenario.
“Everyone that lives down here considers it our beach,” he said. “All of us said we want to keep it open for everyone to use.”
Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp said maintaining public access to beaches and waterways should be a priority for all levels of government.
“I am pleased to hear the province has reconsidered selling off this important community asset so it may be enjoyed for all.”