Letter to the Editor:
Increasing land access issues are becoming a concern for many members of the public. In the last twenty years, the MNR has closed many roads across the North that has traditionally been used by the public to access camping sites, fishing spots, or blueberry crops. These are not roads to remote wilderness lakes; these are roads that many campers, hunters, and fishermen have been using for decades. And now, access is being denied.
The MNR rationalizes their actions by saying users can still walk in to use a lake; however, the disabled and the elderly needs motorized access in order to enjoy the wilderness. Increasing, the areas where people can drive to enjoy the wilderness are shrinking. In some instances, buffer zones have been extended to the whole area around a lake, and the only people that can use the lake are paying guests of a tourist business operating on said lake. In some instances, access to a lake may have been closed because an MNR employee has purchased a tourist business on that lake and wants access limited to paying guests. In some instances, the MNR has designated the land surrounding some targeted lakes as “parks”.
Yet, a tourist operator is allowed to set up business on this lake and paying customers are allowed on the lake, but the ordinary citizen is denied access. The MNR, in conjunction with Northern Ontario Tourist Operators (NOTO) has quietly carved out a section of the North for use by tourist only. Land and Lakes used by locals for generations are now closed to many Ontarian taxpayers. This practice should stop. If any lake or waterway is designated as remote wilderness, then no Ontario citizens, and no other Canadian or foreign interests should be allowed on that lake.
Other lakes should not be restricted to the citizens, taxpayers of Ontario, or to road base Tourist Operators, and should not exclusively become a playground for the golden horseshoe elites and friends, locals and foreign. The MNR insists they are consulting with local stakeholders sitting on Crown Land Use Atlas Harmonization (CLUAH) and the Local Citizen Committees (LCC) before they close roads, however, they very carefully control who they invite to sit on these committees. All taxpayers in Ontario should be very concerned by this growing trend.
Edgar Labelle – Member – Ontario Outdoors Recreational Alliance (OntORA), 292A Danis Rd, Crystal Falls, ON., Phone 705-758-6262