Did you know…….(2)

This post is intended to show OntOra members what your Exectutive , Directors and Area Reps have been doing {past and present}. Some correspondance you will see goes back to 2007. You will also find many historic facts that are very interesting. Some of the correspondance will be past News releases, MNR ,Clubs, Conservation , and Political letters or views.
This post will be published every 2-4 weeks and should prove to be both interesting and informative.Your feedback and comments will be appreciated.

Shame on ;    Office of the Ombudsman for not being independent and transparent

   

Gareth Jones, Director

Special Ombudsman Response Team

Office of the Ombudsman

483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower

Toronto, On. M5G 2C9

 

Dear Mr. Jones:                                              Re: Your file No. 206839

 

Thank you for your reply of November 6th last to our continuing requests for an independent assessment and investigation of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ (MNR) policies and practices regarding Crown land access restrictions.

 

We are pleased that you have interviewed Ministry staff and that you have discussed our submissions with your office’s Senior Counsel.  However, we were hoping that you would obtain an independent legal opinion and possibly interview or hold a meeting with the several complainants, as we have requested, to provide more balance. 

 

While you may agree with Ministry staff that Section 28(1) of the Public Lands Act (PLA) gives them the legislative authority to restrict the public’s access to public roads, that section, in fact, states that the MNR may erect signs on public lands or road prohibiting, controlling or governing: “the possession, occupation or any use or uses thereof….”  It is a wide stretch to equate “possession, occupation or any use or uses of possession or occupation” with someone pedaling a bike of using that road to bird-watch, fish, and hunt or enjoy nature.  Surely, such transient “uses” have nothing to do with “possession or occupation”.

 

Regarding Section 3 of the PLA which guarantees public recreational access where 25% or more of the frontage of lands is on a body of water, and which prescribes that 25% of such lands be set aside for public use, you again reiterated the Ministry’s position that “….the public’s access to roads that are located on Crown land does not prevent the public from continuing to use lakes located on Crown lands…..”   We regret that you did not dig a little deeper into this one, for it is the oft repeated statement that both the MNR and NOTO have been using tongue-in-cheek (wink-wink) and it is very misleading.  Gates and access restrictions are placed a minimum of three kilometers (sometimes much more) from a remote tourist operator on such a lake or other restricted lake.  The only “access” permitted, without being charged and heavily fined for “trespassing” and the real meaning of their statement, is if an individual walked the minimum of three kilometers carrying his/her canoe, fishing tackle and gear, food, safety equipment, bait, and paddles or electric motor on his/her back.  Pedal bikes or any trailering device to carry such gear is prohibited.  That is what the MNR means by “does not prevent the public from continuing to use lakes”.  It is unfortunate that statements are accepted as gospel from the MNR legal staff and that independent legal advice was not obtained.

 

 

Perhaps the MNR could also explain the legal and ethical rationale behind the Wawa MNR’s closing of certain roads to vehicular traffic to “Reduce the conflict between the hunting guests from remote tourism camps and road-based hunters“(locals).  Translation: Paying tourist big game hunters are being given exclusive hunting use of our public lands and resources while “local” Ontarians are prohibited from their own local hunting areas.

 

We realize that it is difficult for your office to review these cases after you have refused to investigate them for the past two years.  We have supplied your office with a great deal of documents, evidence, testimonials, and letters which we think supports our complaints.

We have asked more than once to meet face to face with Mr. Marin, but no reply was ever received to those requests.

 

We are, of course, disappointed with your lack of investigative independence in this matter, but we thank you for the efforts that you have expended.  We are in the process of obtaining top-drawer legal advice from attorneys in Toronto which will help us decide how we proceed from here.  But please rest assured that opposition to these public lands access restrictions, which discriminate against the average taxpayer in favour of paying tourists, is growing stronger, and we will utilize all legal means at our disposal to ensure that the public has the same rights of access to public lands as do paying tourists.

 

We respectfully request that Mr. Andre Marin himself kindly review all of the material and letters dealing with these several complaints sent to his office in the last two years.

 Yours truly,

 Simon R. Guillet, President

Ontario Outdoors Recreational Alliance (OntORA)

(A United Steelworkers Union Ontario Partner)

C.C.:    Mr. Andre Marin

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