Dear Concerned Residents of Selwyn
As you are aware, an election is coming up. The person who gets elected as Mayor will have an opportunity to fight on our behalf in finding solutions to our continuing battle, re the issues pertaining to the farming of rice in the Kawartha Lakes.
I asked each candidate what they would do if elected. Below are their responses. The quality of these candidates speak for itself, as each one enthusiastically agreed to respond and in writing.
Our thanks for putting your names forward.
Mayoralty Candidate Linda Marlene Eales
I sincerely apologize for my delay on my response. The reason for my response is that it is very important for me to review all background information I could obtain in order to most thoroughly and fairly respond to your request.
I have been in contact with Selwyn Township about this and support all of Selwyn Council’s Resolutions to work with our MP Monsef to continue to strongly urge the Federal Government through Parks Canada to Finalize a Wild Rice Management Plan, including:
Establish a method for harvesting the wild rice that considers the needs of adjacent waterfront property owners as the current mechanical method of using an air boat generates excessive noise that is disturbing to waterfront property owners and is affecting the enjoyment of their property.
Establish time limits on mechanical harvesting by limiting the hours per day for harvesting and establishing no harvesting on Sundays.
Additionally, in reviewing the response letter January 11th, 2018, from Jewel Cunningham, Director of Ontario Waterways Parks Canada: I will directly contact her in relation to her response, that “…further work on a wild rice management plan progresses…” and that “Parks Canada will establish a forum in which cottagers and residents will be able to liaise and discuss concerns directly with the Trent Severn Waterway… Through education and collaboration, everyone’s interests can be heard and understood and possibly accommodated. On the specific concern raised related to the use of mechanical harvesting and the issuance of aquatic vegetation removal permits, Parks Canada and the Steering Committee will advance discussions pertaining to these topics. We appreciate your useful suggestions and will consider them at the table. ” [underlining is my addition]
I also think it may be wise for Selwyn Council to request a meeting with our Curve Lake Nation Chief and Council to discuss the wild rice on behalf of both of our community members, as we are all affected by this use of the shared lakes and shared land. At my requests for information, I have not received any confirmation that this has happened yet.
I have read about, and listened to your story of your family history on Pigeon Lake and understand that this is very upsetting for you and your family. I have received a number of other requests for my position on the wild rice seeding and harvesting on Pigeon Lake and will respond to those emails now. As you and yours well know, this is a challenging issue as it involves our Federal Government and our Williams Treaty First Nations, and there is a long history that is being considered at the Federal level prior to decisions being made now.
Please let me know when and where the candidates responses will be posted on your website so that I can direct other inquiries to your site. This may also help to garner more support for you.
Linda Marlene Eales
Mayoralty Candidate Ron Black
Good morning Larry, as per our conversation, I am providing you with my comments regarding the seeding of wild rice on Pigeon Lake. This seeding practice started almost ten years ago and it appears that our Federal government, their local representatives and the Trent Severn Waterway have done little to support the Selwyn residents who have been negatively impacted. As the Trent Severn Waterway is a Federal jurisdiction, it is their responsibility to mitigate this issue to ensure fair and equal treatment of all residents.
Selwyn Township has a long history of cooperation and partnerships with its neighbouring townships and Curve Lake First Nations Council. Our partnership with Curve Lake includes bi-annual Tri-council meetings with Trent Lakes Township, economic development and tourism initiatives, public transportation planning, provision of fire services to the reserve etc… Selwyn Township values our relationships with our neighbours and wants to enhance future partnerships that will directly benefit residents in all of our communities. Successful partnerships depend on all parties actively working together to find solutions to local issues that impact residents.
If elected Mayor of Selwyn Township, I will request an urgent meeting with Curve Lake Council to work on a compromise solution that is agreeable to both communities. Partnerships are dependent on both parties having empathy and understanding of the needs of everyone involved. Future partnerships with the Township of Selwyn may be negatively impacted based on support for these basic principles of negotiation and cooperation. I am prepared to urgently and actively work towards a solution for the residents of Selwyn Township.
Mayoralty Candidate Andy Mitchell
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
As always I appreciated hearing your perspective and I understand the frustration you are experiencing.
I believe one of the fundamental responsibilities of the Township is to take measures that work to facilitate residents having the opportunity to enjoy their property. As Mayor I would work hard to ensure this takes place.
As you point out in your letter indigenous harvesting rights is not the issue. You and your neighbours recognize this activity is consistent with the Williams Treaty.
What you are seeking are answers to a number of questions about the exercise of this right and the need to receive answers in a timely and clear manner.
More specifically you have asked:
- Is it legal to seed rice on Federal waterways
- Is it legal to harvest rice for commercial purposes
- Is it legal to harvest rice using mechanical devices
As Mayor of Selwyn I will champion your efforts to be provided answers. As you know I have extensive experience dealing with senior levels of government in general and indigenous issues more specifically. I have a long track record of getting things done.
In moving forward I would propose the following:
- Engage the Federal and Provincial government at both a political and bureaucratic level. As Municipal representatives our perspective needs to be heard and considered. I am prepared to go to Ottawa and Toronto to make our case
- As a Township we should engage FCM, AMO and ROMA to garner municipal allies in approaching the Federal and Provincial governments to outline approaches to assist municipalities in accommodating the exercise of Treaty rights
- Reach out to other municipalities to identify best practices in addressing similar situations
- Engage with the First Nations covered by the Williams Treaty to identify concerns and to develop an appropriate and respectful dialogue
- In the context of the Williams Treaty and subsequent affirmations, use the joint council meetings with Curve Lake to discuss perspectives and seek common understandings
- Advocate that the Township have a meaningful role on any working group developed to address the issue of wild rice
- In order to ensure property owners are kept up to date and have a venue to express their concerns, as Mayor I would strike a working group of property owners and the ward councillor to keep residents informed on progress and to receive input. This process could begin with a town hall meeting to allow a fulsome exchange of perspectives
In closing I believe that the resolution of the situation requires the respectful engagement of all parties. As challenging as the past relationship has been, the path forward requires the Township to make an aggressive effort to find common ground and to continue to engage all parties.
I would be pleased to discuss this further with you and your neighbours.