| Apr 13, 2006

Feature Article - April 13, 2006

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Feature Article - April 13, 2006

CentralFrontenac Council does an about face onSunday gun hunting

by Jeff Green

Almost a year to the day after soundly rejecting a request from the Ministry of Natural Resources to endorse Sunday gun hunting, Central Frontenac Council has changed their mind.

On April 13, 2005, the vote was 7-2 against the idea, but this Monday, in a vote of 6-2 (Councillor Bill Snyder was absent) Council has decided to request that the Ministry of Natural Resources institute Sunday gun hunting in the township.

Michael MacDonald, a regional representative for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), the group that spurred on this reconsideration through a letter to council, said that it might be possible for the Ministry to institute Sunday hunting in Central Frontenac in 2006. “It might have to wait until 2007, however, depending on how quickly the Ministry can act,” MacDonald said.


Michael MacDonald appeared before Central Frontenac Council in support of the proposal. He pointed out that 67 jurisdictions supported the idea last year, including Tay Valley Township, and those townships will enjoy the extra tourism benefits of Sunday gun hunting when duck hunting season begins on September 6.

During his presentation, MacDonald characterised hunting as a very safe sport, posing little risk to participants or bystanders.

“People are more likely to be struck by lightning than hit by a stray bullet from a hunter,” he said in response to concerns by Councillors Logan Murray and Janet Gutowski about people not being able to walk in the woods for fear of gunfire, mostly during the busy two week deer hunting season.

The OFAH letter was received by council at their meeting on March 28, after which time an online survey was posted on the township’s website. Although the survey was not publicised in any direct way (it was indirectly referred to in an article “Central Frontenac might budge on Sunday gun hunting Frontenac News vol. 6 issue #13), it received 162 responses. Of those, 128 said yes to Sunday gun hunting, 33 said no, and 1 was undecided.

When asked by the Frontenac News, Michael MacDonald said that the OFAH had not organised their local members to respond to the survey.

“I only found out about it myself when I looked at the website to confirm the date of the meeting,” said MacDonald, who filled in the survey himself.

Councillor Logan Murray, an outspoken opponent of Sunday gun hunting, said that not enough public consultation had taken place.

“One hundred and sixty people responded to a survey that most people never even knew about,” Murray said, I don’t think that’s enough to make a decision like this. Of the 14 calls I’ve received, 11 have been against this idea.”

The online survey had been proposed when council rejected the idea of a public meeting on the subject.

Councillor Gutowski challenged some assertions Michael MacDonald had made about the economic benefits of hunting to rural Ontario .

“Any one can bring forward figures to support their position, but they aren’t always the final word on something,” she said.

Councillors Guigue and Harvey were the only two that supported the proposal in 2005 and Councillors Murray and Gutowski were the only two who opposed it in 2006.

The four members of Council who changed their votes from no to yes did so for different reasons. Mayor MacDonald opposed the proposal last year because it did not include Crown Land and he thought people wouldn’t know if they were hunting illegally if they strayed onto Crown land. A reversal by the Ministry of Natural Resources to include Crown Land in the proposal made him change his mind.

Deputy Mayor Frances Smith and Councillor Faye Putnam mentioned the problem of nuisance deer as motivating them to change their minds, and Councillor Jack Nicolson said he had done an “unscientific poll, and found that opposition was strong, but then again most of the people who I talked to opposed hunting, of any sort.”

While the final result angered Councillor Murray, who tried unsuccessfully to have the motion tabled in order to allow further public debate, Councillor Bill Guigue was more than pleased.

“This does not force anyone to allow hunting on their own property on a Sunday, it only allows those who want to hunt on their own property to do so,” he said, “and it will have positive impact on economic development in our township.”

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