QUEEN’S PARK – Leader’s Ledger – Northerners are becoming increasingly frustrated because the Ministry of Natural Resources has been restricting access to lakes that people have been travelling to for generations.
Between 1996 and 2008, public access has been lost to 11,746 kilometres of forest access roads, due to abandonment or restrictions. Many signs which restrict access have sprung up across northern Ontario.
In the north, access to our lakes and undisturbed areas are a way of life, whether it’s for fishing or snowmobiling or simply picking berries in summer. We no longer have access to particular parts of northern Crown lands. These restrictions will also have an impact on businesses such as snowmobile equipment retailers or fuel retailers.
But the bigger issue here is that these northerners are now being told by the MNR, ‘Don’t enter here, because this is off limits to you.’ We all know that several other, more privileged tourists still maintain access to these lands that belong to all of us.
The Public Lands Act, section 3, outlines that 25% or more of Crown land that borders a lake must be reserved for public use. We fully recognize that environmental protection is important, but the government is not making the case for itself by allowing access to some but not others. It’s high time we end this two-class system of public access to Ontario’s crown lands and lakes.
Sarah Campbell MPP