The following is the transcript from the presentation to The Selwyn Council Meeting on Oct 14, 2014. We had great support at the meeting and the resolution from the council will be posted on the website shortly.
Save Pigeon Lake
Good evening Mayor Smith and council members.
Thank you for the opportunity to express our concerns regarding the substantial increase of wild rice, and the method of harvesting in the areas of Pigeon Lake from Grenadier Island, south towards Omemee.
Our objective tonight, is to gain your support, and request your assistance in finding solutions to our concerns. These issues do not apply only to the residents surrounding Pigeon Lake, ultimately, if solutions are not found, they will end up involving all tax payers and businesses in the township.
It is important to note. We are NOT against the Harvesting of Wild Rice. We sincerely, appreciate the desire to honor traditions and encourage the education of heritage.
We are, however, against the intentional SEEDING of the Lakes and the COMMERCIAL harvesting of the rice, by an individual who is the catalyst for the expansion of the rice fields which are taking over the lake. IN ESSENCE, THIS IS A FINANCIAL GAIN FOR ONE, AT THE COST OF MANY.
The following will help you understand our concerns.
These pictures clearly show the condition of the Lake 10 years ago and what has happened since the planting and harvesting began. (see pictures on website)
The following tape is from an Interview with Mr. James Whetung on the radio show Terra Informa aired on January 22nd 2012. Please listen carefully, as it clearly states, that he planted thousands of lbs. of seeds in order to replenish the rice beds he has harvested.
Mr. Whetung states that in the waters controlled by the Federal Government, they do not issue permits and have requested that he not plant nor gather rice in these waters. Mr. Whetung states, HE DID NOT LET IT STOP HIM
Unfortunately, the seeding of the rice beds referred to in the interview did not stop there. On Sept. 26, 2014 I witnessed him, going slowly along the outside of the rice beds, and dropping something in the water. Directly behind him, flocks of seagulls were feeding on the water. I suspect the substance they were feeding on, was wild rice seeds. This planting of rice seeds explains the substantial increase of rice fields and how they matured so quickly.
NEXT we have an audio recording of the noise created by the airboat while harvesting the rice fields…….Play recording
We’re forced to listen to this for hours on end, day after day, for weeks, until he is finished. This not only affects people around the lake, but also those living as far away as ½ mile inland.
Surely you agree that residents should not be subjected to this noise within our Township.
The following is a recap of YOUR constituents concerns. These are the reasons we are here tonight, asking for your help in finding solutions to these issues.
- WILD RICE CONCERNS
- NAVIGATION OF THE WATERWAY IS DRASTICALLY REDUCED.
- THE LAKE IS NO LONGER A VENUE FOR RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES ONCE ENJOYED BY ALL WALKS OF LIFE. SWIMMING, BOATING, WATER SKIING, FISHING TO NAME A FEW.
- THE CONSTANT CLEAN UP REQUIRED DUE TO BOAT PROPS CUTTING THE RICE PLANTS WHICH FLOAT INTO SHORE.
- THE HARVESTING BY AIRBOAT RESULTING IN AN UNACCEPTABLE NOISE LEVEL. DOORS AND WINDOWS HAVE TO BE SHUT IN ORDER TO CARRY ON A CONVERSATION. SHIFT WORKERS ARE NOT ABLE TO GET THEIR PROPER REST.
- PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT – Property Values are being affected. I have been told by Real Estate Associates, that they are reluctant to show property in this area during the rice growing season. The value of properties in the lower areas of Pigeon Lake, are NOT increasing at the same rate, as properties which DO NOT have the problems we are facing.
OVER TIME THIS WILL MEAN A REDUCTION IN THE TOWNSHIP TAX BASE.
THE END RESULT WOULD MEAN THE TOWNSHIP WOULD HAVE TO PASS ON THE REVENUE SHORTFALLS TO ALL TAX PAYERS.
The Issues presented tonight are not only affecting property owners residing on the shores of Pigeon Lake. They are affecting businesses, resort operators and tourism, all of which provide TAX dollars to help sustain the quality of life we all enjoy.
In our efforts to draw attention to this matter, we met with The Trent Severn Waterways Enforcement Division, who will be reviewing our complaint. They have stated the areas of Pigeon Lake in question are part of the Trent Severn Water System and fall within Federal jurisdiction. They are gathering information to develop a process that will hopefully put an end to the ILLEGAL harvesting of rice. We have also met with M.P.P. Jeff Leal, M.P. Dean Del Mastro and a representative from Kawartha Conservation. During each of these meetings we were encouraged to write to government agencies or individuals of influence requesting their assistance in finding solutions.
WE NEED YOUR HELP AND ARE REQUESTING THAT, SELWYN COUNCIL SEND LETTERS TO THOSE GOVERNMENT BODIES THAT CAN ASSIST IN FINDING A SOLUTION TO OUR CONCERNS.
A SOLUTION MUST BE FOUND. Ask yourself the following questions.
- IS IT RIGHT to seed the lake, and create rice fields that impede the use of the waterway in areas where rice NEVER EXISTED?
- IS IT RIGHT to harvest the rice in such a manner, that the seed spillage, spreads to other parts of the lakes?
- IS IT RIGHT to harvest rice in a manner, that disturbs all residents surrounding the lake.
- IS IT RIGHT to harvest rice and sell commercially, which could be INFECTED with ERGOT, which is FATAL to humans if consumed?
- IS IT RIGHT, that one individual can intentionally seed lakes and harvest the cultivated crop from the rice fields that have been planted by him, for his own personal financial gain, at the expense of many? This is NOT wild rice he is harvesting. It is a PLANTED crop. He is FARMING in the Trent Severn Waterways.
- IS IT RIGHT that one person can ignore the guidelines set forth by an Agency of the Federal Government, and continue to seed the lake for his own purposes.
WE DO NOT BELIEVE HE HAS THESE RIGHTS, AND HOPEFULLY NEITHER DO YOU.
Support for THE SAVE PIGEON LAKE initiative has grown quickly with over 250 people registered and continues to gain momentum every day as the word spreads. Again, our objective is to find solutions which will be acceptable to all and we are willingly to meet with any parties that share the same interest.
I think it is obvious that this issue is not only the concern of Property Owners on lower Pigeon Lake. Unless solutions are found in the very near future, it will eventually affect taxpayers of Selwyn Township, as well as, other Townships that surround the Trent Severn Waterways.
PLEASE HELP US FIND SOLUTIONS THAT WILL SATISFY THE NEEDS OF ALL PARTIES! YOUR SUPPORT IS NEEDED!
THANKS FOR LISTENING! IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS I WOULD BE HAPPY TO RESPOND.