| Apr 14, 2005


Feature article,April 14, 2005

Feature article April 14, 2005

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Central Frontenac rejects Sunday gun huntingand other news from Council

by Jeff Green

People might be able to shop till they drop on Sundays throughout Ontario, but Central Frontenac is committed to maintaining a day of rest from gun hunting.

This, despite an attempt by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to encourage municipalities to reverse the practice and allow gun hunting on private land on Sundays during hunting seasons.

Currently, Sunday hunting is the practice in parts of Ontario to the north of the French and Mattawa rivers, throughout most of Renfrew County, and in small pockets of Eastern and Central Ontario.

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According to John Brisbane of the Fish and Wildlife Branch of the MNR, The initiative was initially considered in response to a report the government received in 2004 from a special advisory committee from the agricultural community. They expressed concerns about wildlife crop damage, which costs farmers about $40 million annually in Ontario. We see Sunday gun hunting as not the answer, but as one measure to alleviate the problem of wildlife crop damage.

The MNR has sent information about the proposal to municipalities throughout Southern Ontario, requesting a resolution of support, which was put on the table at a meeting of Central Frontenac on Monday night.

Central Frontenac Council had several problems with the resolution. Councillor Frances Smith said she supported keeping Sunday as a family-oriented day, and added If we make a decision on this without consulting the public, we will be making a mistake. She also asked Why would they say just on private land, not on Crown land? That would be confusing.

Mayor Bill MacDonald took up Smiths point, saying, Keep in mind this not only concerns the two Sundays during deer hunting season; it deals with all hunting seasons, but I can see a basic problem with this. Think about North Frontenac, which is 80% Crown land.

Councillors Bill Guigue and Bob Harvey both supported Sunday gun hunting (bow hunting is legal in Ontario as is target shooting).

I support it fully, said Bill Guigue, It is my belief that it would be a positive thing in terms of economic development in our township. It would bring more people to the grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.

Councillor Logan Murray said, I dont hunt, but people hunt on my land. I use the Sundays during hunting season for other uses of the bush, to cut wood, and I sometimes have people come out for bird watching, which is not something I would recommend doing when there is hunting going on. I dont think we should make a change.

Several Councillors questioned whether the stated goal of limiting wildlife crop damage, which is caused by high populations of deer in Eastern Ontario, and geese elsewhere, would be alleviated by Sunday gun hunting.

I think increasing the number of doe tags or extending the season one week will have a much greater impact on the deer population, said Councillor Frances Smith.

In a 7-2 vote, Council rejected the proposed resolution.

John Brisbane of the MNR said he expects he will be receiving responses from municipalities throughout southern Ontario, and will then prepare a report for the Minister.

While the MNR does have the authority to declare Sunday gun hunting legal, John Brisbane said it is unlikely that will happen for political reasons. It is possible, however, that a jigsaw puzzle approach could develop, with municipalities that favour Sunday hunting going ahead, even as those opposed maintain the prohibition on the practice.

This issue will come up at other councils in the next week or so.

Other items from Council Council accepts Roads Committee recommendations Public meetings set for April 27, 28

The newly formulated Central Frontenac Roads Committee made three recommendations to Council at their inaugural meeting, and since all members of Council are on the committee, it was no surprise when the recommendations were approved at a regular Council meeting this week.

The first recommendation concerned the terms of reference of the committee, which will include conducting reviews of current practices, with a view towards: achieving efficiencies, improving maintenance and deployment of staff, creating a policy manual, and creating a long term plan. The terms of reference also include the creation of a road tour and the promoting of a phone system for messages and complaints.

The second recommendation is to hold two public meetings to give the public the opportunity to provide comments and suggestions. A meeting is set for the Community Hall, Mountain Grove on Wednesday, April 27, at 7 pm, and a second meeting will take place on Thursday, April 28 at the Community Hall, Sharbot Lake, also at 7 pm.

The final recommendation of the committee calls for the preparation and posting on the municipal website of a questionnaire inviting comments, positive and negative, on all services, including roads, provided by the municipality. There is a stipulation that those filling out the questionnaire must include their name, address, and phone number.

Commercial Property Study

A contract has been granted to S. Rayner and Associates of Kingston to conduct a Commercial Property Study for Central and South Frontenac, in the amount of $17,000, plus disbursements, not to exceed $750, plus GST.

S. Rayner was one of two respondents, along with a company from Ottawa, to a request for proposal from the township. The study is being funded through a grant from the Eastern Ontario Development Fund, an initiative of Industry Canada.

Before the contract was approved, Councillor Bill Guigue, a vocal critic of the study, which he had earlier A waste of taxpayers money, pointed out that, We will not even be giving the money to someone from Central Frontenac.

People from Central Frontenac were free to respond to the Request for Proposal, countered Mayor Bill MacDonald, its just that no one from the township chose to do so.

Fire department grant received: A cheque for $50,000 has been received from the Ontario Fire Marshals Office along with a guide, outlining how they recommend the funds be used in order to advance a strategic training plan for municipal fire departments.

Councillor remuneration The amount of money paid to Councillors in 2004 was outlined in a report to Council. Mayor MacDonald received the most money, $15,943 (the Mayors salary of $14,999 plus $943 in seminar/convention costs). Second was Councillor Jack Nicolson, who received $12,014 (his Councillors salary of $10,500, $1514 for seminars/conventions, $394 for per diems, and $473 for mileage). All the other councillors received between $11,000 and $12,000 except Councillor Bill Snyder, who received only the $10,500 Councillors salary since he did not attend any seminars/conventions.

Councillors are limited in the amount of seminars/conventions they may attend at public expense.

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