MNR wants more fees, taxes & revenue – Give your opinion

fishingAre you 65+? willing to pay to fish and pay for outdoor card?
Ontario MNR proposal for new fees, taxes, and other revenue sources…and seeking comments.  There are several recommendations that directly or indirectly could cost you money.  It would be a good idea to let them know how you feel.

The attached report is some 40 pages long.  If that seems more than you want to read, jump to page 39 and then go to select pages that interest you.

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Charly May 15, 2014, 9:27 pm

    They constantly repeat fees, more fees and introducing more fees throughout this paper. They now want to justify 65 and older retiree’s to pay for fishing rights.

    They quote all different States to do comparisons but do not mention Michigan which is on our border that respects their seniors by offering free fishing and reduced rates on bundling hunting packages that don’t cost a portion of what we pay “individual” licensing fees here in Ontario.

    They also want to know how to promote and encourage people to hunt & fish!!!

    Try not blocking the access to lakes and hunting on crown land areas for a start. How stupid do they think we are with these issues. It’s nothing but another end around money grab which will neither benefit us now or future residents that want access to hunt and fish here in the north.

    There are some great proposals and they are so interested in our responses but I’m afraid b.s. baffles brains here all the time when dealing with people whose only agenda is to make sure their wages are stable and sadly try to justify it by these phony papers.

    They continue to trim their management tree from the bottom and the results are what we have to deal with now. No feet on the ground but lots up on a desk down in Southern Ontario , the real “pulse” of the north eh????

    Charly Murray
    P.S.
    Notice the jump in the moose population stats, I guess that justifies limiting tags again. Absolute b.s. on that supposed aerial moose count also. Heard that from a very reliable MNR personnel.

    • Tym Barker May 16, 2014, 12:06 pm

      “No feet on the ground but lots up on a desk down in Southern Ontario”

      Excellent quote Charly! LMAO!

    • Joe Schmidt May 21, 2014, 7:53 pm

      Ok Charly. Tell us how you really feel. Good letter.

  • Tym Barker May 16, 2014, 12:27 pm

    My comments are based entirely on the following 3 exact quotes contained in the MNR’s recent document “Draft 2014-1019 Sustainability Plan for the Fish & Wildlife SPA For Public Comment – April/2014”:

    1.) “The number of resident fishing licences declined from 1.4 million in 2000 to 932,000 in 2011.”

    WOW! Holy crap! We could debate why there was such a decline in resident fishing licences, and I’m sure the donkey’s asses at the MNR would twist the data and statistics differently than you and I, but the real question should be – “If the number of licences is down THAT MUCH why doesn’t the MNR DRAMATICALLY REDUCE THEIR COSTS? Yes, that means dramatically reducing employees, reducing office building and administrative overhead, reducing pensions (whatever it takes), reducing the number of stupid seminars and team building sessions they attend, etc., etc., etc., instead of arrogantly assuming they have the god given right to further increase fees and taxes on the remaining users?!

    2.) “The number of resident hunting licences recently increased from 432,000 in 2000 to just over 557,000 in 2010.”

    They don’t say how much of that increase is in small game vs. deer vs. moose, etc., but I suspect there is zero increase in resident moose licences over that time, in fact probably a reduction.

    3.) “In 1980, Ontario’s moose population was estimated at 80,000 animals and is now estimated to be between 105,000 and 110,000.”

    So……………… let me get this straight. Ontario’s moose population has increased by 38% over the past 30 years, the number of resident moose licences have stayed roughly the same – or worst case increased by 29% – and yet the number of moose tag allocations has been reduced by 1,000% since 1980. Remember, in 1980 EVERYONE who purchased a moose licence could shoot ANY moose they saw. Now, VIRTUALLY NO ONE is allowed to shoot anything except a rarely seen Calf.

    AM I MISSING SOMETHING? Or is it a simple case of ANOTHER one of the MNR’s lies getting past the editing department at the consulting firm they hired for probably $500,000 to produce this report?

    • Joe Schmidt May 21, 2014, 7:57 pm

      Tym, some good points you bring up. I haven’t even read your next response yet.

  • Tym Barker May 16, 2014, 1:55 pm

    A few other points from the report (I’m on a rant now. This Ministry pisses me off so much. What an abomination).

    I find you usually have to read these sneaky government reports two or three times, carefully reading between the lines. Eventually it becomes clear where they have purposely omitted things, downplayed or completely ignored significant points, or dismissed them with charismatic, one-line statements to suit their agenda.

    4.) In the report the MNR states that 1506 outdoors people (includes resident licence holders and non-resident licence holders, as well as past licence holders) were surveyed.

    Only 1506 people out of more than +1,000,000 resident licence holders! That is “statistically irrelevant” and unreliable data. How stupid can they be? Or maybe they’re actually smart, because they know very few members of the public will question their antics. So they continue to lie and make things up to suit themselves.

    5.) “Only five per cent of respondents supported reduction of the fish and wildlife management program.”

    No kidding. However, just because people don’t want a reduction in “fish and wildlife management” doesn’t necessarily mean they believe the MNR should get more funding. More funding for what? To continue down the current path of incompetence, unjust policies, continual reductions in fishing and hunting opportunities, and wasteful administrative practices? I think not. I suggest when most people say they want “good fish and wildlife management” they mean they want “good fishing and hunting opportunities, and sustained healthy fish and game populations”. Both of which we have very little of right now.

    6.) “The results revealed that all Ontario survey participants placed a VERY HIGH level of importance on knowing that Ontario’s fish and wildlife populations will stay healthy well into the future; THAT THREATS TO THOSE RESOURCES WILL BE REDUCED.”

    The report does not contain ANY discussion about how increased funding will allow the MNR to address an issue that “all survey participants placed a very high level of importance”. As for threats to the resources, let’s take the moose population as one example. It is obvious – and I mean obvious – to anyone with half a brain that the three biggest threats to the moose population (other than valid, licensed hunters) include the unabated rape of the resource by the Indians, the increased wolf population, and the increased bear population. None of these threats are even up for discussion with the MNR for one reason or another. So again, if the MNR isn’t going to respond to the issue that “all survey participants placed a very high level of importance” then what’s the point of giving them increased funding?

    7.) The report also states that there was VERY LITTLE support for increased licence fees.

    I agree. In my experience, the best way to deal with these types of problems is NOT to throw additional money at the situation. More money just makes it a bigger problem. The solution is usually a complete overhaul of management and key staff to rid the organization of its diseases and deadwood.

  • Tym Barker May 16, 2014, 2:04 pm

    While I’m on a rant…

    If anyone at Queen’s Park is reading this, give me 6 months in charge of the MNR and I GUARANTEE YOU that I can REDUCE the operating budget by 30%, and at the same time INCREASE the level of fish and game management AND SATISFACTION of the Ontario outdoors people. Guaranteed.

    It won’t be pretty. Every Wood Turtle will no longer have its own personal entourage of summer students, and Mike Harris will look like Tinker Bell by the time I’m finished – but I can assure you of the results. No need for more money. Just common sense, focus on the priorities that really matter, and everyone who gets a pay cheque will have to have a real good reason to be there.

  • Gord Pedersen May 16, 2014, 4:37 pm

    I know if I was running the MNR I would get rid of that parasite, special interest group , my ministry would be 1.8 million dollars richer cut the OFAH off MY GOVERNMENTS TIT. DO I SOUND LIKE A BROKEN RECORD YOU GOD DAM RIGHT AND PROUD TO SAY IT.

    • Tym Barker May 16, 2014, 9:47 pm

      I agree Gord. It took me a while to come around on that one, but I’ve seen the light. An organization that’s been corrupted by too many back-room government deals and partisan money.

      • Gord Pedersen May 17, 2014, 6:39 am

        Tym this was not directed to yourself , I was just making a statement. I have to give Ontora it’s due in trying to work with OFAH although it is hard to compete when our trustee(MNR) is signing the check towards this federation in the sum of 1 million dollars annually .

  • Paul May 16, 2014, 5:48 pm

    Read this people ,it is important to you……

    Here is the discussion paper on the MNR’s Sustainability Strategy… http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/lr/@mnr/@oc/documents/document/stdprod_110525.pdf

  • Paul May 16, 2014, 6:30 pm

    I have forwarded the MNR’s EBR Posting and discussion paper to over 75 outdoors people on my personal mailing list. I know that you will also forward it to all our OntORA members because it is vitally important that all of us take a stand and respond to it as negatively as possible.
    With the obvious stupid (as usual) proposals by the MNR we would ask all our members to send in a few comments about what they consider is bad policy.
    Not sure what the OFAH is responding, but we can never depend on them to speak for all outdoors people, especially on equal public access, as we now know.
    No doubt the Liberals who supported this proposal will be defeated and this will go in the waste basket, but please let’s not miss the opportunity to shoot this down. Your opinion is very important.

  • Paul May 16, 2014, 10:26 pm

    It’s probably a good thing MNR does not control Senior’s CPP or Old Age Security, they would try to get more blood out of that also.
    Perhaps if they stopped trying to micro-manage everything, re-open roads and access to our beautiful lakes, they would save a few dollars.
    Taxes and Fees , so all the MNR pencil pushers in Southern Ontario can keep collecting the fat pay cheques.
    Perhaps if we gave their high paying redundant jobs to the Americans or better yet Foreign Workers they would not need these redundant studies and we could reduce their jobs by 50% . Talk about a savings.

  • Paul May 20, 2014, 3:38 pm

    Interesting , people are talking in the coffee shops, at meetings , phone conversations and emails, yet most are so intimidated by MNR, and they will be put on their black list or that the Conservation Officers will be gunning for them , that they refuse to put their names to any document that might give them a hard time when they go into the woods.
    And there lies MNR’s problem also, in making any attempts to bring people back to the beautiful outdoor Crown Land that we are all so proud of. People just don’t want the hassle of dealing with MNR, because all they see is CO’s that are not courteous, access denied to many areas , or MNR looking to fine you for doing something wrong weather you know it or not.
    Just an opinion, am I wrong here???

  • Andre May 21, 2014, 8:07 pm

    Hello

    Be very careful with these EBR, and MNR community groups.

    This is a very thought out process that a lot of Gov`t organizations are using. Its a process plain and simple, where you are giving the Public the opportunity to voice their concerns & opinions in a matter. The key here is that the organization gave you a chance to have input, into the topic.

    Now here is where it gets interesting or frustrating depending on your point of view. After the deadline period, they do not have to take any of the opinions into consideration. Let me assure you both, these guidelines are already typed out, the “I’s” are doted and the “T’s” are crossed already, its a done deal.
    This EBR is only a step in the process!

    Ask any one of the public servants in the MNR to provide proof, or show you the list of opinions or concerns – and they’ll hide it behind the Confidentiality Act.
    Its the biggest public scam in my point of view.

    You watch the final decision, they will claim that the majority of people and groups that responded were in favor of what we proposed in our document.

    I learned this 20 yrs ago when I was part of the Geraldton Local Citizen Committee. Here we had all the reps from all the interest groups in the region, Forestry, outfitters, public, fish & game clubs, naturalist clubs….
    We would meet once a month, when the topic of PLA came around, we tried to order the MNR to remove the restriction signs, our answer came straight from the District Manager. You are there for opinion and discussion only! YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER THE DISTRICT MANAGER. And the DM has the final word on the decision.

    So again I’ll say it, you can bark all you want, these are done deals.

    I will say this, it is better to say something than to be quiet. Then at least you can bring it to the media.

  • Eddy May 21, 2014, 8:15 pm
  • Sherri May 21, 2014, 9:17 pm

    a) What are some of the barriers that prevent people from participating in hunting, fishing and other outdoors activities?

    Access to roads/trails that allow residents of Ontario to access remote areas, townships being sold to MNR staff and decreasing crown land, people abusing crown land camping rights and staying for season, loss of tradition and sharing knowledge and love of the land to the youth, abuse of the land with garbage found in all trails and access roads-lack of respect for nature.

  • Sherri May 22, 2014, 7:10 pm

    b) How can MNR encourage more people to get involved in hunting, fishing and other wildlife-related activities?

    Stop being the bully in the bush and be the educator- although MNR wants more revenue from fines it is becoming the policing service for users of the land and the approach is negative. (example- I was kayaking in provincial park on Lake superior- there was debris and garbage noted on all the beaches yet MNR came to our campsite and were looking for a can or a glass bottle- we explained that we have no room in kayaks for that type of product and then we asked them if they could not clean up all the beaches/coast that had commercial nets, plastics and tonnes of waste- they said no. So basically they were not protecting the environment and did not care about the debris – their only goal was to try to find fault with us- it left a bad taste and made me loose hope in MNR mandate.)

  • sherri May 26, 2014, 6:50 am

    c) How should MNR promote and request donations?

    Raffles of painting, art, gear instead of donations- I will not donate to MNR because I have lost faith in them, I would contribute to youth access programs.

    d) Should MNR develop corporate sponsorship opportunities to support the fish and wildlife program? Do you have any concerns about potential risks to such an approach? If not, do you have any suggestions for sponsors that MNR might engage?

    No, Sponsorships do not focus on protection and may exploit our natural environment- are they Canadian based? Who gets the profits?

    e) Would you support an outdoor recreational equipment tax with proceeds dedicated to funding fish and wildlife conservation? If yes, at what rate should the tax be set? (e.g., 1.5 per cent, two per cent)

    No

    f) There are two proposed changes to commercial fishing, increases to commercial fishing licence fees and an increase in royalties. What impact would these fee and royalty changes have? Are the proposed gradual, incremental royalty rate increases reasonable?

    Please do not increase commercial fishing license, they do not support Canadians use of our (all of our) natural resources and uses it for personal gain.

    g) MNR is proposing that those aged 65 and over pay 80 per cent of the cost of a regular fishing licence, as well as maintain a valid Outdoors Card. Do you think these changes create fees that are fair?

    NO> Our seniors deserve to have free access to all crown land and fishing, they should not have to pay- they are the ones helping maintain the outdoor tradition. Children should also not have to pay to allow families to enjoy the outdoors.

    h) In addition to the commercial fishing and seniors fishing licence fees, are there other fees that you feel do not provide fair cost recovery and value?

    All out of province people entering our country to use our crown land should be charged a larger users fee – this should be significant and go directly to conservation and preservation of the lands. Currently they seem to bring everything with them and do not spend any money in our shops except for some gas. They should be contributing to our economy and not just taking from it.

  • Gord May 27, 2014, 10:12 pm

    1. What are some of the barriers that prevent people from participating in hunting ,fishing and other outdoor activities?

    Your Ministries current management plan on solving the conflict between the different users of the crown land network here in Ontario is one that has been drawn up by special interest groups looking out for their own self economic interests. Access issues in Ontario are out of control and the flawed CLUAH process was drawn up by entities that all had a symbiotic relationship and the lack of democratic engagement for the primary stakeholder at ALL MEETINGS was evident because today the cause and effect of the Wawa and Dubreuiville municipalities are feeling the wrath of a pilot project wronged by greed and pure intellectual sluggishness . I would encourage my trustee(my MNR) to view one of the continents greatest doctrine THE NORTH AMERICAM MODEL OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION and acknowledge the importance of ALL STAKEHOLDER groups assembling to re evaluating this process and develop a management model that is truly conducive to all crown land users. No meetings should ever be closed to the different stakeholder groups, closed doors means lack of transparency ALL meetings should be open to democratic engagement by all stakeholder groups. This is a major barrier and one that will continually have an adverse effect on MNR and primary stakeholder relations. “ BY contrast there was much less support for opportunities that created privileges for those with greater financial means to access more or better fishing or hunting access opportunities.” This is from your own consumer survey Harris/Decima in regards to sampling questions to Ontario residents on access issues to Ontario’s crown lands. I applaud your MNR of being forthcoming with this information. Now it is up to you and different sportsmen advocacy groups to name a few Ontora, Nosa, SCI Canada to approach the table of negotiations and these groups will deliver representation for the primary stakeholder( the public). Your survey also administered information that the primary stakeholder (the public) as hunters is a growing demographic in the province although with the subject mentioned above it might be a yield that becomes short lived. Also I can see this demographic continue to grown if OMBAAC (big game allocation tag committee ) would seek true representation for the primary stakeholder group as well representation for the road based tourism industry. The status quo of this committee is a stacked deck of remote tourism representatives and a special interest group that is masquerading as a public representative and through this groups symbiotic relationship with remote tourism is not providing true representation to the primary stakeholder group. As of May 2014 there is one representative of remote tourism too many(2), for a stakeholder group that only represents 600 strong one representative for remote tourism is enough. The other representative representing the public should not be the OFAH conflict of interest with remote tourism and has affected their judgement in the past on numerous occasions representing the primary stakeholder. The other representative should represent the road based tourism industry . A representative from the MNR one from remote tourism, one from road based tourism and last but not least a TRUE REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE PUBLIC. The rationale for this OMBAAC committee is a representation that will reach out to a greater demographic of diverse financial means and will be conducive to all of Ontario’s crown land users . It would be a yield that will continue to grow in the form of Ontario hunters either resident or non resident.

    2. How can MNR encourage more people to get involved in hunting?

    First a lot of this question can be seen from the answer of #1 . Also our MNR can realize that once and for all that reinstating the spring bear hunt only makes perfect scientific sense. Ontario’s wildlands can only sustain a certain carrying capacity of the black bear although if I was a ministry official my greatest concern would be the issue of public safety . The black bears range has now infringed on Northern communities and attack from predation are on the rise. It only makes sense to reinstate it, for the migration of US hunters that use to be a stable every spring in Northern Ontario communities . It brought economic stability to all Northern communities and road based tourism and remote tourism. The non resident license fees was always great for your ministry. This hunt always assured that moose populations would stay stable or not be on the decline. The decline of the provincial moose population can be defined using the cause and effect equation with this cancelation back in 1998. Economic impact since this cancelation back in 1998 has affected the Ontario tax payer and your ministry and municipalities in the range between 35 to 40 million dollars through enforcement ,education programs, bear relocation. BRING BACK THE SPRING BEAR HUNT IT MAKES PERFECT SCIENTIFIC SENSE. Now for my evaluation of my ministry obtaining additional license fees from the seniors of Ontario it seems somewhat counter intuitive for you to ask how to get more people involved in hunting and fishing and now you want to add fees to licenses that have been free to the seniors of Ontario. SHAME SHAME SHAME . I am not just for seniors having free fishing licenses although I am all in favor of discounted hunting licenses no matter what tag at a discount. HERE IS A BETTER IDEA ON HOW TO ADD MORE DOLLARS TO THE SPA WITHIN MY MINISTRY. BEFORE 1998 THE MNR ALWAYS HAD THE STABLE OF REVENUE FROM THE OHEP (ONTARIO HUNTER EDUCATION PROGRAM). THEN CAME PREMIER MIKE HARRIS AND DECIDED TO PRIVATIZE CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE MNR SO OF COURSE THE OFAH REPLIED WE COULD TAKE ON THAT TASK AND TO BOOT OUR GOVERNMENT ALSO GAVE THE OFAH FUNDING TO START OFF THEIR NEW ENDEAVOUR . THIS WAS ALWAYS A MONEY MAKER WITHIN OUR MINISTRY AND BECAUSE OF MR HARRIS THAT SUFFERED FROM SEVERE INTELLECTUAL SLUGGISHNESS OR WANTED TO REWARD SOME OF HIS FRIENDS WITHIN THE OFAH, WHAT WE ARE FACED WITH TODAY IS YOU ASKING THE SENIORS OF ONTARIO TO MAKE UP SOME OF THE DIFFERENCE SHAME SHAME SHAME . IT DOES NOT END HERE TO THIS DAY OUR PROVINCIAL GOVERNEMNT CONTINUES TO GIVE THE OFAH 1 MILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR FOR VARIOUS PROGRAMS ALTHOUGH IN A OFFICIAL LETTER FROM THE OFAH PRESIDENT ANGELO LOMBARDO ADMITTED THAT SOME OF THIS MONEY WAS FOR THE (OHEP). HOW CAN WE BE STILL GIVING MONEY TO THE OFAH WHEN BACK IN 1998 THIS FEDERATION RECEIVED FUNDING TO START THIS ENDEAVOUR TALK ABOUT A SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP STAYING ON THE GOVERNMENT TIT. THIS IS A MISAPROPRIATION OF TAX PAYERS FUNDS. TO MY MINISTRY CUT THE MIDDLE MAN LET THIS BE A SURPLUS WITHIN YOUR MINISTRY WHERE 100 % OF THE REVENUE GOES TOWARDS THE SPA. DO NOT GO TRYING TO PROCURE FUNDS FROM THE SENIORS OF THIS PROVINCE THAT ARE ON LIMITED RETIREMENT BUDGETS AND JUST WANT TO ENJOY THE ONTARIO’S OUTDOORS. TO DO OTHERWISE IS COUNTER INTUITIVE AND IS IN CONTRADICTION OF YOUR MINISTRIES ASPIRATIONS OF KEEPING AND ATTRACTING MORE USERS OF ONTARIO’S RESOURCES IN THE FORM OF ANGLERS AND HUNTERS.

    3. How should MNR promote and request donations?

    DO NOT ASK ME FOR DONATIONS. Your diminishing services does not warrant any donations.

    4. Should MNR develop corporate sponsorship opportunities to support THE FISH AND WILDLIFE PROGRAM?

    AS LONG AS THE SPONSORS ARE HUNTER FRIENDLY.

    5. Do you have any concerns about potential risks to such an approach?

    NO AS LONG AS THE COORPORATE SPONSORS ARE HUNTER FRIENDLY. SOME GOVERNMENT MINISTRIES AND SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS WILL DO ANYTHING FOR REVENUE THESE DAYS.

    6. If not, do you have any suggestions for sponsors that might engage?

    No

    7. Would you support an outdoor recreational equipment tax with proceeds dedicated to fish and wildlife?

    With the loss of services not rendered by the MNR, it does not justify any new taxes.

    CONCLUSION: I was deeply disturbed by the title on page 17 ENGAGEMENT WITH STAKEHOLDER GROUPS AND THE PUBLIC. For my ministry to demise that the public is not the primary stakeholder group and treated that my demographic is not a true stakeholder group is the Achilles heel of the (OMNR) today. These different stages of negotiations is a burden on the Ontario tax payers pockets and does not represent true transparency and is a misuse of government resources and personal . Instead of having one true stakeholders meeting where all stakeholders are present your ministry calls out several different stages of meetings. As a member of the primary stakeholder group and two sportsmen advocacy groups and as a citizen of Ontario I have seen first hand THE COLLUSION OF INTEREST administered by the OFAH, this federations values, principles, towards the public more specifically the NORTHERN ONTARIO SPORTSMAN are BIAS to their own self economic interest. No longer should the OFAH be appointed as a spokesperson for the public. In the eyes of many NORTHERN ONTARIO SPORTSMEN this federation should receive neither recognition nor accommodation as the voice for the primary stakeholder group. It should be the citizens of the municipalities that also choose LCC groups when changes in regulation, policies regarding our crown lands and resources are being discussed. No longer should the OMNR appoint the LCC. And when a representative is needed on the provincial level for the primary stakeholder, there exist far better choices for primary stakeholder representation then the FEDERATION THAT IS SUPPOSED TO REPRESENT US NOW. Last but not least I would like to emphasize the gross iniquities that exist within the Dubreuiville, Wawa municipalities and the association with the CLUAH process . The status quo in these municipalities in regards to access issues to the crown land network are short sighted derived by NOTO and a special interest group and your ministry (OMNR my TRUSTEE) . The citizens of these municipalities have witnessed and are being affected by a preponderance of poor resource management ethics and to validate my claim all your ministry has to do is to proceed to the data collected by the HARRIS DECIMA survey where the individuals questioned and by your own admission TO QUOTE “BY CONTRAST THERE WAS MUCH LESS SUPPORT FOR OPPORTUNITIES THAT CREATED PRIVILEGES FOR THESE WITH GREATER FINANCIAL MEANS TO ACCESS MORE OR BETTER FISHING OR HUNTING ACCESS/OPPORTUNITIES”(page 20) . And also the present OMBAAC ensemble of representatives might be evidence of my OMNR trying to affectively recreate the ERA OF THE ROUND TABLE where wealth and financial status gave you access to hunting and fishing. A vast majority of the crown land network Wawa ,Dubreuiville 75to 80% is predominantly off limits to recreation in these municipalities (no motorized vehicle access). My ministry (my trustee) needs to receive a case study in true socioeconomics and proper social equity values, when your ministry only seems to answer only to the tune of remote tourism, your ideology is not relative to a management plan that is conducive to all users of the crown land network. I would, as well as the citizens of Ontario ,( Wawa, Dubreuiville) would like to see faith restored in the MNR as a PUBLIC TRUST ENTITY. Your ministry could learn greatly from one of the worlds greatest wildlife doctrine THE NORTH AMERICAN MODEL OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION .

    THANK YOU

    GORD PEDERSEN

  • Ron June 9, 2014, 5:32 pm

    May 31, 2014
    To:
    Sylvia Strobl
    Project Manager
    Sustainability Strategy for the Fish & Wildlife Special Purpose
    Account- EBR Registry No. 012-0623
    Ont. Ministry of Natural Resources
    300 Water St.,
    Peterborough, Ont.,
    K9J8M5

    Dear Ms. Strobl:
    First of all congrats to the OMNR for taking this initiative to invite open comment on the F&W Program via the EBR posting. I have a little difficulty however understanding why the project is subservient to the Special Purpose Account as the issues at stake go well beyond any particular administrative/budgeting system and in reality are at the heart of the F&W program mission itself.
    On the major questions raised in your filing I would offer the following comments:
    1 – RE: BARRIERS TO THE PUBLIC/NEED TO ENCOURAGE MORE PARTICIPATION IN HUNTING & FISHING
    O too much government red tape with the regs- needs more simplification and consistency across the Province e.g. the fishing public shouldn’t have to carry around a Bible to figure out the rules for lakes/rivers x,y,z etc.
    O constant increases in licence fees discourage people- small increases say every 5 yrs. or so would be reasonable but not annually
    O insufficient MNR storefront operation accessible to citizens- shouldn’t have to make an appointment to see staff in a district/area office- too much delegation to “Service Ontario” that doesn’t resonate with the public and only serves to make MNR too remote
    O an escalating barrier for people is the sheer cost of travel these days with gas prices out of sight, not much MNR can do about that but there’s other travel costs you can influence such as Provincial Pk. campsite fees which have gotten out of line- also cynicism towards MNR increases when nonsensical policies discouraging access are invoked like putting parking meters in highway access points as in the Sand River and Mijin Lake scenarios along Hwy 17 in Lake Superior Park, if I’d have done something like that when in charge of the Wawa District back in the 70’s I’d have been hung and rightly so- the people of Ont. own these resources for Pete’s sake and they pay tons of taxes to create these improvements; the MNR must stop this double-dipping /pick-pocketing if you want people to return to the land and enjoy the outdoors more
    O a serious impediment to the fishing public and boaters generally is the paucity of public boat ramps across the Province and on the Great Lakes in particular
    O the sad state of quality public rest stops along our Ont. highways is a disgrace- this discourages tourism generally and an improvement in this area in coop with MTO would encourage more families to take up outdoor recreation in N Ont. in particular – the moms out there aren’t too keen on risking the loss of their kids down the stinking privies this once proud Province offers- we should look at the Michigan model down Interstate I75, this is what we need in N Ontario where the mega/gas/burger stops are non-existent unlike S Ont.
    O most important is the issue of access to Crown land and water which by all accounts indicate that restrictions in some areas are far too severe in the interests of the commercial tourism sector- if any forest access road on Crown land is open to any user it should be open to all- same principle should apply to fly-in and other modes of travel in all seasons- the only justification to closing forest access roads on Crown lands should be emergency situations re fire and flood or safety concerns such as ongoing logging in a specific area….if a road was built into a lake or river illegally back when and the MNR wants it taken out to control pressure on the fishery resource then it should be off limits for all users including any commercial tourist enterprise on the lake or river….in no case should such roads be open to only one user group …..same policy should prevail if the road was built legally since Crown land is owned by the citizens of Ontario and that includes roads on this land, private status should never be granted for any road on Crown land with the possible exception of roads MNR needs to service water control structures and that were built for that specific purpose
    – And this issue should make no exception for Indian bands as despite their phony claims to vast land areas in the north, the land is Crown, owned by the people of Ont., and the MNR has no authority to enter into agreements with Indian bands to the exclusion of the public such as the case with the Ogoki Road
    As a footnote to this issue it should be apparent to the Ministry and made more transparent to the public that forest access roads on Crown lands have a very mixed history which, given the input of taxpayer dollars, is relevant to future use for public recreation, commercial tourism and forest management including forest fire control- some historical facts are as follows:
    – Some were built by the Dept. of Lands & Forests pre-1973 on Crown Management Units and then by the OMNR post-73 on CMU’s; this was all public funding; some of these roads were extended to lakes to access what were known as Public Access Points for which a budget existed for boat ramps, privies and garbage pickup but the operation of these was eventually privatized or phased out as MNR had its budget constrained but the roads remained for public use

    – Most forest access roads in the Crown land network were built by forest industry firms on Company Management Units at company expense pre-1980 and made available to users on a use at your own risk basis- at one time some companies gated their roads due to fear of liability but the legalities of this concern diminished over the years leading to an open roads policy with virtually all companies

    – With the advent of Forest Management Agreements about 1980 the MNR and companies cost-shared road building and maintenance and Crown MU’s were gradually phased out to meld with the new FMA’s; most of these road developments were extensions to existing primary road systems on former Company and Crown Management Units thus it’s a fact that virtually all current forest access roads on Crown lands in Ontario have a degree of public funding in their history

    – In the 80’s some forest access roads (e.g. the Ogoki and Hinkler rds.) and major bridges (e.g. the Ogoki, Mississaugi R. and Namakan bridges) were built with cooperative funding from the Federal government under the Forest Management Subsidiary Agreement with DREE and then with the Canadian Forestry Service under the COFRDA Agreement- tripartite funding included federal, provincial and company resources

    – Since the 90’s when FMA’s gave way to the development of Sustainable Forest Licences forest access road funding has had varying degrees of cost sharing between MNR and SFL holders

    0 At one time, at least into the late 90’s I believe, the MNR coordinated forest access road funding for both construction and maintenance under a Provincial Roads Coordinator position in the Public Lands Admin. Branch- meticulous files were kept re the road networks and budgets- as I recall Peter Brooke was the last staff person in this position so if you need more historical info. I’m sure Peter, although in retirement would be a valuable source

    2 – RE: PROMOTION of the RESOURCE/PROGRAMS and ELICITATION of DONATIONS

    O needs to be more MNR transparency re ongoing research so folks know what is being done and why i.e. expose the science behind policies- fishery slot size rules come to mind here as often being unreasonable in the public eye (e.g. only 1 speck allowed over 12” in Zone 7- only 1 lake trout over 16” allowed in Zone 10) – no fishermen or women I know would ever want to keep one of these species under these slot sizes and many people have stopped fishing altogether facing such regs- where’s the science to back up such extreme rules – another example is the forced release of walleye in the winter fishery when over the slot even though they come up from deep water with their air bladders stuck out of their mouths and most would conclude that such fish will die so it’s incumbent on MNR to prove the survival rates with good research and until this is done the system needs to change to perhaps smaller limits and keep what you catch- MNR’s credibility is in serious need of improvement in this area as info I’ve read in the Michigan Outdoors articles based on Michigan D&R research concludes that such walleye in fact die- MNR biologists need to confer within their profession to expertise in other jurisdictions and not make up rules based on pet theories as this only creates terrible cynicism in the public arena
    O re-introduce a quality publication akin to the former Ont. Fish & Wildlife Review to communicate with user groups but market it on a subscription basis to raise revenue – models I’d suggest would be the North Dakota Outdoors and Montana Outdoors magazines, I hunt these venues, subscribe to these and find them a great source of info to help with trip planning –articles should be written by MNR staff so no freelance costs and if the subscription price is kept small (ND is $10 for a quarterly) you’d maximize the uptake, one thought would be to partner with the OFAH Ontario Out of Doors mag for a quarterly and cost/revenue-share thereby utilizing their expertise in magazine production- it was a sad day in MNR’s history when the Ont. F&W Review mag was discontinued for simply small potatoes budget concerns –that was a turning point for the outfit regarding public communication re the F&W program
    O encourage District Managers to put out regular news releases on local programs with no-cost access to local newspapers and other media- district staff are a wealth of knowledge and talent and this should be part of their jobs
    O don’t short-sell the value of the printed regs in favour of online info- there is much criticism out there re printed regs being in short supply, even heard of some folks going to their local MPP to help them get a copy- this is silly penny-wise-pound-foolish budgeting as the printed regs are in reality the face of the F&W program to the angling and hunting public- the hard copies are very portable in the bush and need to be there in good supply- even young info-tech hackers need the printed regs with them when fishing and hunting in the vast no-wifi areas of the north
    O foster more local community volunteer and shared funding involvement via clubs and municipalities for front line operations such as fish stocking, surveys etc.- perhaps even forest access road maintenance jobs like bridge re-building and culvert installations – communities have much expertise and own lots of construction equipment and it’s not always busy with city streets so they’d likely be more than willing to partnership and help improve the outlying Crown land recreation areas for their citizens’ benefit

    3- RE: POSSIBLE CORPORATE SPONSORSHIPS and PARTNERSHIPS

    O enhancing the relationship with the OFAH has many possibilities both directly in program delivery such as the Atlantic salmon program and also via their widely circulated publication, the “Ontario Out of Doors” magazine
    O as for raising revenue the regs publications could be beefed up to include a good many more advertisements- I don’t know how this is handled now but if MNR isn’t getting revenue from this product due to a one-sided contract arrangement you need to relook at the possibilities
    O I think a partnership with the Ont. Lotto Corp could successfully launch a lottery targeted at raising revenue for the F&W program- this has the potential of being a major fund- raiser and popular with the public with some good conservation-minded promotion behind it, maybe call it something catchy like the “Peter Rabbit” ticket, just kidding but you get the point
    O partnerships with local communities, clubs, forest industry firms and agencies like those replacing former Ont. Hydro could target improvement to Crown land access such as road and trail system maintenance
    O partnerships with the Small Craft Harbours Branch of the Federal government would be productive in the development of public boat ramps that would promote fishing, hunting and boating
    O a closer working relationship with MTO could lead to sensible changes to current restrictive rules on off-road vehicles e.g. why is a sled licence renewed every 2 yrs. whereas quad licences are lifetime, notwithstanding the cost aspect this type of inconsistency is simply too much red tape and discourages some people from getting out

    4- RE: THE NOTION of SPECIAL TAXES on OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT

    O this idea should be shelved for good, Ontarians are over-taxed to the hilt now, this idea makes about as much sense as the one floated recently by the liberals to raise the HST to raise money for the Toronto subway system- this would completely turn people off and have the net effect of more cross-border shopping and a reduction of interest in outdoor pursuits

    5- RE: COMMERCIAL FISHING ROYALTIES, LICENCE FEES ETC.

    O no question the commercial fishing industry should pay more for the privilege and the quotas established need to be justified with good science so all user groups can buy into the formula; as it stands now there’s a big credibility gap between MNR and the angling public- the sad state of affairs on Lake Nipissing speaks for itself in this regard and once again there should be no special consideration for Indian bands as good management of the resource must take priority to those muddy politics and biologists need to stand up and be counted on that one

    6- RE IDEA of SENIORS HAVING to ACQUIRE a FISHING LICENCE and OUTDOORS CARD for FISHING

    O I have no trouble with the Outdoors Card but the freebie re a fishing licence should not change- this would only be perceived as another tax grab and a major government flip flop on the promise made by Minister Vince Kerrio back in the 80’s when the first Ont. fishing licence was brought in and his unequivocal commitment was made such that seniors would never have to buy a fishing licence as they’d contributed a lifetime of tax revenue to make the Province prosper (somewhere I have a copy of that speech)

    7- QUESTION of FAIRNESS of OTHER FEES

    O as above the cost of licence increases should be more gradual
    O the licence brought in for wolves and coyotes for northern WMU’s is a good example of bad public policy- the rational used was bogus science as this was nothing but a tax grab with no science behind it and thus represents a perfect example of the duplicity of the “Special Purpose Account” system wherein bureaucrats dream up non-tax revenue ideas to pad their budgets….for this reason I’ve never liked the idea of this budgeting/accounting system as it has bad optics in the public mind as staff shouldn’t have to grovel for operating funds by perpetrating such burdens on the using public….MNR needs to stop this type of pick-pocketing, it impresses nobody and shows a complete lack of respect for outdoors men and women- wolves and coyotes should be fair game for residents on their small game licences as they were historically
    O never bring in drastic changes to species limits without prior consultation such as the case of rainbow trout N of the Michipicoten River when the limit was lowered from 5 daily to 1 with no warning year to year and with no indication of any research leading to this decision and there still isn’t as far as I know- I’ve fished the streams flowing into Lk Superior between Wawa and Thunder Bay and I can’t think of another area with less fishing pressure and more viable, pristine spawning habitat so this decision made absolutely no sense whatsoever unless of course the Indians were up there netting the spawning runs and MNR didn’t bother to broadcast that- I know of nobody that would venture up so far north to fish rainbows with a limit of 1 fish so if the objective was to shut down the fishery then I guess it was a success

    O the moose licencing system is a serious problem, three things here:
    (i) The killing of calves must stop as this policy is in fact killing the moose population along with uncontrolled Spring predation by black bears- brutalizing recruitment to the population because of the wanted licence revenue is irresponsible- tags should be issued for adult animals only
    (ii)
    An admin fee of say $5 should be invoked for entry into the draw – a wannabe hunter should not have to buy the licence up front- if successful the hunter would then buy the licence using a draw reference number- if not successful the entrant should have the option of buying a licence and party hunting with a group in possession of an adult tag or simply not hunting moose that season, many go that route now but have to eat the cost of the licence- such a system would eliminate the illegal hunting that goes on by those using the calf option to be out there with a rifle, killing an adult then calling the friend in town with a tag to come out and tag it; buying the licence only after the draw would eliminate the costly admin to MNR in paying out refunds to unsuccessful participants

    (iii) Commercial outfitters should not get tags allocated to them on a preference basis- only hunters themselves should get tags under the draw system and then they can book with an outfitter if they so choose- this should include non-residents who should go into the draw for a limited quota of non-resident tags – at present non-residents get a guaranteed tag simply by booking with an outfitter and that is not fair to residents as it simply caters to the money crowd- outfitters have plenty of options to stay viable including fishing, bear hunting, deer hunting, wolf hunting etc.

    O with respect to turkey hunting it’s not fair to make an unsuccessful Spring hunter buy another licence to hunt the fall season if he has an unused tag in his pocket- this system needs to change and make it consistent with the practice for deer licences which are portable from early fall archery, through gun season and on through late winter archery season across WMU’s
    O Implementing a dove season for the first time in decades was a good move; however, it was not fair to northerners to exclude northern WMU’s; there are lots of doves in N Ontario, especially the N shore Lk Huron areas- it seems doves have adapted well to northern climes and altered their traditional migration pattern as we feed up to 16 at our St. Joe’s Island backyard feeders in winter, so there’s a mini-survey for you

    8 – QUESTION of POTENTIAL EFFICIENCIES/COST CONTROL

    O organizationally, MNR is becoming invisible to the outdoors community save for the presence of CO’s in the field- the generic organization configurations of late, products of the many ridiculous reorgs and concomitant bureaucratic brain-storms of the administration of the day should give way to an “old-fashioned” Fisheries Branch and a Wildlife Branch that the public can relate to and these should incorporate the science and research functions as a component as it’s redundant to have a separate research and science branch structure
    O organizationally it is questionable as to the need for an Enforcement Branch – I never thought I’d see the day that enforcement per se would warrant a Branch since this function is simply a component of resource management programs and definitely not a program unto itself- each program area should be responsible for its own “enforcement” if and when required with CO’s only involved in the Fish and Wildlife programs but the emphasis should be on “prevention and education”, enforcement should only be looked upon as a “last resort” activitiy….by all accounts MNR has lost sight of this philosophy as I don’t see much effort in that area and that’s sad- I would think that a regional enforcement coordinator in each of the 3 regions would adequately replace this so-called Enforcement Branch along with delegated responsibility to Districts to “let the managers manage” supported by their professional staff –
    O with all due respect to CO’s it is obvious that the system of enforcement has gone off on tangents weighing down CO’s with picayune matters having to do with things like off-road vehicle regs and as I understand it now even with liquor-related things, all matters that belong with the OPP only- CO resources are scarce and should be fully devoted to F&W conservation matters- CO’s should not be involved with non-F&W program enforcement such as forest management, public lands admin, forest fire charges etc. as these services have their own professional staff to handle what needs to be done – if a timber operator crosses the line of the cutting authority, a quarry permit holder exceeds the permit, a camper starts a forest fire etc. etc., you get the point, they don’t need a guy in a uniform and a bullet-proof vest showing up with a handgun on his hip to let them know they have transgressed and are going to be charged with an offence….MNR’s image would be greatly enhanced if CO’s were mandated to only deal with pure F&W matters and this would benefit the F&W program as more effort would flow to apprehend poachers and the like
    O the age of specialization has caused inefficiency within the ranks of the MNR front lines and I believe there’s much to be gained by moving more towards generalists especially at the resource technician operations level- there was a day when a resource technician on a need basis in any district looked after tree planting, fish stocking, forest fire suppression and PB’s, LUP’s, quarry inspections, timber harvesting audits etc. with many other things mixed in (described in job specs as “other duties as assigned”) at the District Manager’s discretion to make the most of available manpower….obviously there has to be a balance but I think the scales have tipped too far to specialization at the expense of efficiency since no matter the specialty there is idle time which equates to wasted manpower- another advantage to such a move would be to incorporate highly qualified seasonal staff into the permanent ranks as generalist resource techs thus making best use of their varied skill sets across programs

    9- RE: OTHER GOALS
    O the one area that needs lots of effort both from the administrative and political levels is the whole question of bringing Ontario Indian bands into the 21st Century of fish and wildlife conservation- biologists and CO’s along with the sport fishing and hunting public, local communities and the OFAH need to do the research to show the impact of the uncontrolled harvests by Indian bands and then convince the policy makers to invoke regulations that fall within the definition of “Conservation”- the Sparrow Case in the 90’s rendered a decision by the Supreme Court that gave Indians so-called “aboriginal rights” but it qualified that as being subject to “Conservation”- it’s time for Ontario to take the lead and put a good definition around Conservation in this context and bring the native issue under some true management with Indians subservient to the regulations that apply to all citizens- you’ll need to hire more CO’s to manage this if it’s done and that wouldn’t be a bad thing!
    Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

    Ron P. Alton (retired OMNR Sr. Manager)

    • Joe Schmidt June 9, 2014, 6:29 pm

      Reply to #9- Ron I showed your thoughts to many friends. I must say it is the finest worded response I have ever heard . Thank you for your candid remarks, priceless. Joe Schmidt.

  • Dave June 11, 2014, 9:40 pm

    Silvia Strobl
    Project-Manager
    Ministry of Natural Resources
    Provincial Services Division
    Fish and Wildlife Services Branch
    300 Water Street
    Peterborough, Ontario K9J 8M5

    Subject: Sustainability Strategy for the Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account, 2014-2019

    Dear Ms. Strobl:

    I am a retired Ontario conservation officer. I spent my very interesting career working in Moosonee, Blind River and Minden Districts between 1975 and 1999. I am now an ordinary citizen living modestly on my provincial pension plus CPP and OAS.

    I just learned of this study and your desire for input last week, and I’m afraid the composition of my comments has been a little rushed. I hope however that they will not be too disjointed for you to follow. My comments are listed in the order of the questions in the discussion paper.

    A. Barriers preventing participation:

    · Complexity of regulations. When I was a “baby” CO in my first position in Moosonee, I put together a proposal to change an arbitrary but biologically meaningless boundary between two fisheries divisions, greatly simplifying the catch and possession limits for brook trout in the northern end of our district. My proposal drew accolades from the district manager right up to the minister’s office… and the change was made. Minister Frank Miller insisted on simplifying the Regs. where possible.

    Ever since that time however, fishing regulations have become increasingly complex. By the time I retired, slot size limits had driven a real public relations wedge between we the ministry, and they, the recreational fishers. The general attitude of the fishing public was, by then, that we had made the regulations so complex that we were out to sucker them into doing something wrong so we could lay more charges and make some more money for the province.

    And in the fifteen years I’ve been retired, the regulations have managed to become even more complex.

    · When did you stop sending out automatic renewal notices to Outdoors Card holders whose cards are about to expire? I only figured that out when I went to buy my deer licence last month. (I no longer require one to fish.) Remember the profession I said I was in? If I couldn’t be relied on to remember a simple thing like renewing my card, think of all the non-enforcement civilians who will have no idea that their cards have expired until a CO pulls up beside their boat and asks to see their licence! In an era when all other major licences (driver’s, vehicle registration, health card, firearms possession) come with an automatic renewal notification, the Outdoors Card is doomed to become an absolute public relations nightmare because it doesn’t… not to mention the lost revenue.

    · Vastly reduced big game tags. Hunters are less likely to buy moose licences if their $50 only offers them a chance to hunt for calf moose. I’m getting to that point myself! I understand the need to restrict the hunt to bring populations back to more healthy numbers, but in the meantime it would sure be reassuring to those of us who have never won a cow or bull tag in a lottery to know that after others entering the draw in the same unit have won a tag, they won’t get another until everyone else who regularly applies has won a tag first.

    · Fewer outside licence issuers… Are there any left now? I live in an area frequently visited by non-resident sport fishers. HOW on earth is a group of these folks supposed to buy a fishing licence when they arrive in Blind River on Friday night after the local MNR (Dis-service Ontario) office has closed for the weekend? Won’t they have happy memories of the weekend they came to Canada to go fishing, but couldn’t?

    · No access to MNR office or staff… AKA reduced client services. From time to time I travel extensively throughout northern and rural Ontario and most MNR offices I now drive by no longer display any identifying sign. As indicated above, all of these offices are now hidden behind a Service Ontario office and the public is definitely no longer welcomed into the inner sanctum of the once familial MNR domain… Certainly not without an appointment. Great negative PR.

    The two following items are provincially driven negatives… not MNR caused, but certainly contribute to the barriers folks face:

    · Reduced tourist traffic caused by the high cost of motor fuel here in Ontario. Our local Imperious Oil dealer (the only fuel stop around) presently charges $1.46 per litre for diesel fuel. Similar price for gasoline. An hour and a half away, just across the border in Sault Ste. Marie, MI, diesel is now $1.05/L (adjusted for exchange). Gas is similarly priced. Most Michigan residents who used to come up here for hunting and fishing vacations are A) still in the midst of the lasting effects of the 2008 recession and B) not so rich as to make frequent trips into Ontario to squander their hard earned income on expensive fuel.

    · High cost of campgrounds and resorts. After the Walkerton water scandal, Ontario the Good imposed severely onerous water system regulations on all campgrounds, lodges, resorts and marinas regardless of the fact that most were already providing perfectly safe water for their guests with the supposedly unsafe , antiquated equipment they already had. Several campgrounds in our area simply folded… unable to afford the expensive upgrades, while others made the mandatory upgrades… $10,000 to $15,000 which is now being passed on their clients. From my recent experience, Ontario campgrounds are now among the most expensive I’ve found on this continent. From experience, I’d have to say that most US municipal, state and national parks, as well as Canadian National Parks and provincial parks in other provinces charge from 50% to 80% of what Ontario Provincial Parks do for overnight camping. Most private RV parks in Ontario are 10% to 20% more than similar facilities in other jurisdictions.

    Ontario is not presently a tourist friendly destination!

    B. Take everything I pointed out in A. (above) as being a barrier, and correct it! No, I realize that MNR is no longer the grand old organization I was proud to work for, but if you would start consulting with field staff (COs and Fish and Wildlife techs … if there are any left) when making regulations you would still have a solid body of biologically viable rules managing our wildlife resources and a lot fewer hostile constituents.

    · For example: Extend the fall bear hunt to overlap both the moose and deer hunting seasons. It used to be that way! It is a known fact, that bear predation of moose calves and deer fawns is at least in part responsible for our sharply declining moose and deer herds. During my entire working career I could count on one hand the number of bears I saw running loose in the bush (not counting ones I live trapped for re-location). In the last five years I’ve seen more than that in our local area… both where I live and where I hunt. Unfortunately, the bear season has always been closed when I’ve seen them. A bear would make a very welcome addition to any other small offering nature allows me to put in the freezer. And a few more bears removed in the fall… a less contentious hunt than the spring event… would probably contribute to a rebound in the moose and deer populations.

    · A little bit of public visibility and corporate pride goes a long way with the general public. It is time to make the MNR fleet visible once again. Having a bunch of little white cars and trucks marked “Ontario” is no way to project a positive corporate image. Aside from OPP cruisers, the COs’ HVEV trucks are about the only recognizable vehicles in the entire provincial fleet. The other vehicles driven by the biologists and technicians are invisible to the public.

    C. Donations? With the entirely invisible public image the MNR owns these days I’d say that donations are not a viable revenue option. Every time I turn around now, some organization or other is begging for donations! The only ones that get my sympathy are those that do not squander my hard earned cash with needless and excessive administrative overhead. Back in the late ‘90s, a couple of years before I retired, main office sent out an e-mail listing of main office phone numbers. I stayed late one evening to count them up. There were just over 400. It struck me then that in an organization with less than two hundred field COs and about four hundred surviving field technicians… all trying to “do more with less” in a time of severe constraints… that something was badly out of balance. No, I don’t think that donations are an option.

    D. I have no problem with sponsorships… as long as we, the ministry, get to set the conditions. But like donations, I doubt that there will be many corporations racing to fill the void.

    E. Added taxes are what’s killing our economy! To you it may be just another couple of percent, but to the young family or single mom making minimum wages at Tim Horton’s and trying to equip their family for a weekend camping trip to Algonquin Park in their beat-up fifteen year old Chevy Cavalier, two percent is another expense they can ill afford! When Bob Rae’s NDP and David Peterson’s Liberals were in power, back before the Harris years, they kept increasing taxes on just about everything. Booze and smokes are fair game, but on everything else, it just slows the economy down. If I pay more taxes, I have less money left over to buy stuff and stimulate the economy. When Harris came along, love him or hate him, he reduced taxes, and the provincial economy picked up and the provincial treasury made more with lower tax rates than it did during the heavily taxed era. If instead, you were to make minor price reductions on sport fishing and hunting license fees I think you would generate a round of good will which would in turn bring folks back to the fold… the bill fold. We are all sick and tired of increases in everything we do these days… licence fees, hydro bills, motor fuel…. you name it… everything costs more than the last time we bought it. A bit of a price relief would be a welcome relief that might just generate the good will you need to attract an occasional donation too! And finally, where do you draw the line as to which things to tax? Bug spray and sun bloc? Flash drive folks store their fishing trip pictures and videos on? Bear repellant? Life jackets?

    F. Increasing commercial fishing licence fees and royalty rates at the rate of inflation is fair, but not above that rate. If you use the same rate they use to increase my pension annually, the fishermen will never even notice it. Anything more than that and either they will scream bloody murder OR their catch will go under reported…. regardless of how sophisticated you think your commercial fishing spyware is. I’ve watched those guys. The good ones are amazingly pure and angelic, honest to goodness hard working folks. The others are truly selfish, conniving and cunning cheaters… and they work hard at doing that too.

    G. As one who has finally attained that magical age, I would have to declare a conflict of interest and not answer this question. However, since you asked… NO. I’ve waited a long time to be able to fish for free. The reduced cost of fishing reasonably reflects my reduced retirement earnings.

    H. How about licensing commercial blueberry pickers? Some of those folks make a really good income during the month or so that they are out there harvesting that particular natural resource. Same goes for mushrooms, ginseng, fiddleheads, wild leek or any other natural resource that is commercially harvested. Everyone else harvesting our natural resources pays royalties.

    I. Something that always annoyed me as a provincial employee was that NEVER ONCE that I can recall during my career, were we the employees asked how to improve efficiencies. And aside from the fishery regulation change I suggested and ultimately achieved, when I did occasionally submit unsolicited suggestions, I was labelled a shit disturber by management. So now you are asking. Okay… how many managers and drones are now employed in main office? And in the regional offices? Is the ratio any better than I observed it to be during the 1990s? (See my comments middle of item C). If not, retire them, cull them, lay them off… just do whatever it takes to bring the ratio down to levels that a small business would have to maintain in order to remain commercially viable. MNR is, after all, now just a small business.

    J. Water level control dam management, where it is on a solely MNR managed watershed (as opposed to Trent-Severn or similar systems) could in many cases be turned over to local cottage associations. Strict directions would need to be issued and enforced regarding water level requirements during critical fish spawning and nursery periods, and maximum/minimum flow requirements for riparian owners downstream, but other than that, let the cottagers duke it out with each other, rather than constantly complaining to “us” about the lake being too low or too high.

    K. Perhaps it is time to merge MNR back with Northern Development and Mines as Tim Hudak has suggested, in order to re-create the critical mass we once possessed (and I am not a fan of Mr. Hudak). The old Department of Lands and Forests at one time was home to the Mines Branch, before Mines became a Department of their own. The Ministry of Northern Affairs started its life as a branch of MNR.

    Thank you for providing the opportunity to contribute to this important discussion.

    Yours truly,

    David G. Ferguson

    C-415 Ret’d

  • bonnie devine June 15, 2014, 5:05 pm

    Firstly they want more people using the natural resources, fishing hunting etc. How stupid. they cut tags and wonder why hunters have dropped off. Secondly raise fishing license costs. not raising pensioners pensions, people can’t afford anymore. so less licenses will be sold. Third,closing trails on Crown land so no access to lakes and hunting spots. Then they turn around and ask how they can get more people using our resources? Doesn’t make sense.

  • Paul June 15, 2014, 6:09 pm

    I totally agree with you Bonnie.
    But then again there are many other things MNR have done as late , that does not make any sense at all. They seem to forget that they are the stewards of crown land, not the greedy owners.
    It is like they purposefully try to piss all the residences of Northern Ontario off. Well they are succeeding.

    • bonnie devine June 19, 2014, 3:59 pm

      yes they are Paul. Its a sad state of affairs and they should be accountable for their actions . They didn’t follow their own regulations with the moose hunt . In zone 28 they counted From Jan22 to Feb. 23. in their regulations they state the count can be don’t after Jan. 31 but in that case the numbers will be down. They mention having more than 28 inches of snow when the moose stay under the bows of the trees. They do not consider or 7 feet of snow which we had this winter in the bush. A recount should be done in Dec. before the snow is deep and the moose are in openings so they can be counted. Recount is a must. Bonnie

  • Bonita June 17, 2014, 8:18 am

    I have a hard time with the fact that there are different rules for atv and utvs. Crown land roads or bush roads are considered secondary roads are they not? It should be mandatory that there is a posting in every dealership to disclose the fact that the machine cannot travel secondary roads. In order to qualify it has to have four wheels, handle bars and you have to be able to stradel the seat. I would like someone to explain to me why we have to pay for a license, insurance, tire tax etc. when this machine is not considered roadworthy. Are the rules on our roadways that are governed by the province only for a select few? What are we paying for? If we have to trailer this machine to the bush why the extra charges?

    • bonnie devine June 19, 2014, 3:52 pm

      so true.

  • D. R. Dafoe June 19, 2014, 8:06 am

    I rather smiled when I read in the proposals the idea of having seniors paying for fishing licences. I always thought that fishing licences were a bad idea from the get go. It was a sure way of ensuring the over fishing of the resourse. Anyone who is forced into buying a licence, tends to limit out when they get the chance, which results in a decline in the fish stocks, and the fishing out of lakes.
    I use to enjoy getting out and doing a bit of fishing with my spouse, but I decided it wasn’t worth the effort when the fishing licence was brought in. Told my dad when I turned 65 and no longer needed a licence, I might take another run at it. I turn 65 a couple years back, and have managed to get out maybe a half dozen times. As you can image I’m not a big drain on the resource.
    However, I can see as the baby boomer generation ages, there will be fewer and fewer to pick on for licence fee, and the pot is bound to shrink. Hence the move to pursuit the baby boomers for licence fees into their golden years.
    Here is my point, you need young blood to sustain the licencing program, and there is not enough. Because I did not fish, my childern, didn’t get enough the exposure fishing to get them hooked. so you have fundamentally lost that generation, as a source of revenue.
    Now who do you suppose is going to pass on the idea of fishing to their childern, it’s not likely to be the parents. Also it’s not likely to be the grandparents if my spouse and I have to pay for fishing licence. So now you’re going to loose three generation to fishing. Dumb!
    What’s needed in order to keep the senoir population health, is to encourage them to be more phyisically active, that way they become less of a drain on the health system. Fishing as a physical activity could serve to reduce some of the strain on the health budget, so why would you proposed licence fees which are likley to discourage seniors from getting or staying involve in a healthy activity. Dumb!

    • Paul June 19, 2014, 11:47 am

      YOU JUST MAKE TO MUCH SENSE, that is why MNR will never follow your advice.
      My firm belief is their secret mandate is to keep us out of the woods and off the lakes.
      Unless they give it all away to Remote Tourist Outfitters and large private companies to manage. Then MNR will be able to blame them when their little venture fails.
      Read the last article posted about them selling off crown land

  • Joe Schmidt June 19, 2014, 5:58 pm

    I have to agree with you guys, When I was younger my Retired Father (Forever our Guide) took my young lad fishing, instilling pride in the outdoors. Today at 25 that is all he thinks about. Either fishing or snowmobiling so he could go ice fishing, or hunting. Fishing License fees for seniors is bull sh*t. Our older generation paid their fair share. Mr. Dafoe is correct when he states that the older generation teach the younger generation to appreciate the outdoors. That should be payment enough. Our MNR treats our lands as a cash cow industry when we have the most beautiful land in the world to equally share. The MNR are supposed to be the stewards of the lands, not the landlords.

  • D. R. Dafoe June 20, 2014, 3:06 pm

    With the income stream for the MNR in decline, its pretty clear that other source of revenue need to be tapped. The MNR has a place in managing our natural resources, wildlife management is all about managine wildlife populations and the habitat that supports them. The reality is that habitat lost to urban sprawl is habitat lost to the MNR wildlife management. It remind me of the situation that has existed in this country every since Europeans population came to settle in it. The indigenous peoples were probably the best stewarts of this lands natural resource, and look what has become of them. Expansion of settlement through treaty, mean compensation for aboriginal land rights for land turned over to settlement. Here where I’m going with this, clearly land lost to urban sprawl is land lost to wildlife habitat I believe there fees, in thes situation level for environmental concerns, but it is not clear that the MNR gets any direct benefit from them. What could be added to an impost fee for lands outside urban centers, is a habitat loss fee to flow directly to the MNR. This hopefully would sent the message, that greatest threat to wildlife populations, is habitat lost to urban sprawl. Hopefully the MNR won’t have to wait as long for such compensation as some of the aboriginal peoples
    Another concern that caught my attention was a court case, in which the MNR went to great lenghts to nab a poacher who was capturing and marketing a turtle species that was on the endangered species list, the subject had four of these turtles in his possession at the time he was apprehented. He was determined to be quilty and fined a little over $1900.00. The endangered species act place punitive damage for individual at $250,000 per speciment taken, for a corporation the amount is set at $1,000,000 per speciment. Settling for a fine of a little over $1,900 seems to me, like declaring an open season on any and all endangered species. Where do these court settlements go back? Back into the general provincial copper? If so maybe it time to direct them back into the MNR since it is they, who are providing the resource to pursue poachers. Did I mention the fines should be set to bite not pinch.

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