Rising Waters Changing Lakeshore Waterfront Neighbourhood

A Lakeshore neighbourhood cut off from the shore because of an emergency fix to save a road from rising lake levels wants its access back.

Residents on Ruston Dr., near Rochester Place Campground, have been able to enjoy a small beach on Lake St. Clair for years but, in May of 2017, the town had construction crews close that off with a new stone barrier, meant to protect the roadway from erosion.

High lake levels get the blame.

Ruston Drive resident Michelle Ball says the barrier has changed everyday life on Ruston Dr.

"There's no community feel. We know our neighbours. We know everybody out there because that was a community meeting place and that's kind of gone now," says Ball.

Neighbour Brian Ritchie agrees, the residents have lost something.

"It doesn't have that northern feel where you look out on a sloping beach to the water — now there's all these rocks," says Ritchie.

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Beach area on Lake St. Clair at the edge of Ruston Dr. in Lakeshore. (Photo courtesy Michelle Ball)

Tim Byrne is the Director of Watershed Management Services with the Essex Region Conservation Authority.

He says without the emergency work, residents might have had a tough time backing into the driveway today.

"We would've lost that road surface and some municipal infrastructure. Like, we would've lost it," says Byrne. "So then, you're dealing with people's access to property, first responders being able to get out for fire, ambulance and police — all those types of things being negatively impacted on."

Ball feels a better solution could have been found if residents had been consulted.

"We just find it was a little disrespectful and maybe, that administration didn't take in the neighbours consideration — and didn't ask us for any input," says Ball.

However, Byrne stresses a changing climate and, what appear to be, permanently higher lake levels means he isn't sure there is a way to make everyone happy on Ruston Dr.

"I'm not very confident because people's perceptions of what they think they can get at a certain location is coloured by their personal preferences," says Byrne.

Lakeshore council is looking for a report back on possible options to create lake access — potentially on nearby property.