MNR Road Closures by Charlie Smith
I have been listening to the keening lament about The MNR closing roads. I have been hearing it in the coffee shops and on the radio for some time now, people phone me, (as if I could do something other than this). I checked on line and found a plethora of compalints. I read dozens upon dozens on a website of OntORA before I had scrolled down any more than an inch or two on the side bar.
The other group that is doing the the heavy hauling on this is NOHP, whose principal No. 3 is “The Northern Ontario Heritage Party supports the formation of a Northern Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.”
You know who I can’t find saying anything about this? The Ontario Federation Of Anglers and Hunters, that’s who! Are they happy with access being denied to locals for the promotion of “Remote Tourism Values”? Or have I just missed them joining the other organizations and individuals fed up with the MNR prohibiting us from enjoying our outdoors? Are they perhaps complicit with the closures? Do they agree that “The ability to charge two-and-a-half to three times more for a similar experience that a person would have when they can drive to a location,” is more important than we residents having access.
When we hunted moose last year, we stopped in Armstrong on the way out. We were talking to the other gangs in the restaurant. Among all of us we had only one moose. There was a fairly smug looking outfitter in the restaurant with us. “Why didn’t you fly in?” he asked.
“It costs too damn much!” I said, “I priced it, and it’s double if you get a moose and have to get it flown out.”
“What did you pay for those?” he nodded at some quads loaded on a trailer outside the window. They weren’t ours.
I explained that our trucks were the ones with the canoes and that we had given up on trying to drive on the roads that had been artificially closed so that he and the people like him could charge parties thousands of dollars to hunt in areas they should be able to drive to, if only the MNR left us alone.
I have a few questions that I feel need answering. Are the outfitters and/or their clients ever using these roads? How about the Natives – can they use the closed roads? Are the only people being locked out of vast areas of our Northern Ontario bush you and I? And if we are, does that make us second class citizens or perhaps third class citizens? Apparently the MNR is busy changing the business agreement they have with NOTO and they want to give the outfitters 30 year renewable land use permits. Thirty years! How does this sit with you? How did it happen that a few mostly foreign owned businesses filling their pockets got to be more important than us filling our freezers? Why is the MNR running around putting signs up at almost every boat launch that we are not supposed to camp there? Heaven forbid that we locals should be able to sleep right beside the lake. It’s bad enough we can drive in and launch our boats! I guess the only thing wrong with Northern Ontario is us…
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a canoer, have been all my life, and even though I am in my sixties, I still canoe way in hunting and fishing, so I like to see wilderness areas left. However there is something Kafkaesque about canoing in for a day or two only to pass under a new bridge attached at both ends to a perfectly good road that we can not use!
I do not want to see roads everywhere. I am opposed to roads. I am agin them! But once some logger has bulldozed his way in, cut the bush down and the area has been planted to a monocuture pine plantation, then it’s NOT a wilderness area anymore. Once this has happened then I don’t think anybody should be making any rules that say I can’t use that road.
Am I making myself clear? Maybe not…
My objection to these roads is that though we are no longer allowed to drive in with our trucks, quads, sleds or even horse drawn carts, the tourist operators are still able to fly in rich Yankee tourists to catch the fish and shoot the moose that we can’t get tags for. And you know it all smacks of elitism!
We want access to the fish, game and berries in our back yards and we don’t want it sold to outfitters or outsiders.
How can you pretend you are in a wilderness area when there is a road within a mile everywhere? But they still want to continue this charade while they fly in fat cats to hunt the game we are not supposed to access. They pretend that their airplanes are somehow a more traditional form of transportation than even horse drawn vehicles when everyone knows we have been driving on roads a lot longer than we have been flying airplanes. The only places we ever bothered to fly in was where there were no roads. Once there was a road there we used it. If we can’t drive in, then they shouldn’t be able to fly in either. If it is supposed to be a wilderness area, make it canoe or walk in only area, accessible to anyone willing to work. Let’s see how the “Remote Outfitters” like that!
Something has to be done about this. If you want to continue to be able to drive on the roads you have always used, you better raise your voice now. Write your MPP, (Mike Mantha in our case, email@example.com ), talk to the press, whine vigorously, join organizations willing to fight. If you don’t, don’t bother crying about it to me, (you won’t be able to find me anyway as I will be way in some lake in my canoe and you won’t be able to drive there.)