Click Below to read an article posted in the Lakefield Herald regarding out initiative to Save Pigeon Lake…
Resolution No. 2014 – 200 – Rice Harvesting in Pigeon Lake
Councillor Donna Ballantyne – Councillor Anita Locke –
That the correspondence and information provided by Larry Wood related to mechanical wild rice harvesting be received for information; and
That the Township of Selwyn send correspondence to the Federal Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq strongly urging that as noted in the 2012 correspondence sent to Mr. Wood from previous Minister, Peter Kent, a wild rice policy be developed and further that in developing the policy, due regard be given to how mechanical wild rice harvesting and seeding is significantly impacting how residents are able to enjoy our waterways and the quality of these waterways; and
Further that the correspondence also note the need for the Federal and Provincial governments to clearly define their roles and jurisdiction related to harvesting and seeding wild rice as there are disparities in who has jurisdiction over regulating the practice; who is able to issue permits; what types of rice harvesting are permitted (mechanical or by canoe); and for what purpose (cultural, commercial etc…); who is responsible to determine and regulate whether Ergot, reported to be dangerous if eaten, is present in the wild rice which is being sold commercially; who is responsible for laying charges if necessary, related to the current mechanical wild rice harvesting taking place on Pigeon Lake; and
Further that clarification be provided on whether wild rice can be defined as ‘wild’ when it is being mechanically harvested and seeded; and that the Township of Selwyn and Peterborough County O.P.P. Detachment Commander Tim Tatchell be copied on the responses made by the Federal and Provincial governments for information; and that the Federal and Provincial governments be asked to respond by the Spring of 2015 well in advance of the next harvesting season; and
That a copy of this Resolution be sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne, M.P. Dean Del Mastro, M.P.P. Jeff Leal, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Environment, the presidents of AMO and ROMA, the local Trent Severn Waterway offices, the Warden for the Trent Severn Waterway Enforcement Division and Larry Wood.
Mayor Mary Smith – yes
Councillor Donna Ballantyne – yes
Councillor Anita Locke – yes
Deputy Mayor Andy Mitchell – yes
Councillor Sherry Senis – yes
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.by
The Enforcement Division of TSW has informed us that a Park Warden will be in contact this week to deal with our complaint re. the individual who is harvesting illegally. He is using a mechanical harvester and TSW only allows the harvesting of rice using the traditional canoe and paddle method.by
Selwyn Council meeting has been changed to October 14th. At this meeting I will make a presentation requesting the support of Selwyn council. We will ask that a letter be written to Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and any others they feel is appropriate. I will emphasize the potential loss of tax revenues due to declining property valuations, loss of tourism revenues and the declining quality of life, all due to the admitted seeding of the lakes resulting in rapid growth of rice, as well as, commercial harvesting using an airboat.by
Our numbers are growing. We currently have 120 respondents and still have more volunteers who are knocking on doors that we have not yet heard from. We could use some volunteers to go door to door around Egan Marine and on the west side of Pigeon lake. If you would like to contribute some of your time, send me an email and I will arrange to get flyers and petition sheets to you.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer to help.by
Does anyone have pictures from 1995 onward that will show clear waters where we now have rice fields? These pictures should have been taken July-September.
Please send any pictures or images to email@example.com
September 22nd, 2014
Ms. Jewel Cunningham
Director Ontario Waterways Unit
Parks Canada Agency
Trent Severn Waterways
Wild Rice Harvesting on Pigeon Lake
Dear Ms. Cunningham
I am writing to you as the spokesperson of concerned residents which reside on the shores of Pigeon Lake, as well as boaters, fishermen, tourists and resort operators of the area. These concerns center on the substantial increase of wild rice in the area from Grenadier Island south to Omemee.
I wrote to Mr. Peter Kent in January 2012 expressing the concern of residents and received a reply (enclosed) stating that the Agency is working towards the development of a wild rice policy. I have searched the internet for this policy but have not been able to find one. Does it exist? This Policy was to provide direction for harvesting guidelines by First Nations and others.
A policy which provides enforceable guidelines is needed and the lack of these guidelines is one of the reason I am contacting you for help. The letter written to Mr Kent, as well as the pictures, provides you with a background of why we have started a Save Pigeon Lake Initiative.
The present condition of Pigeon Lake south of Grenadier Island continues to worsen each year due to the direct seeding of area lakes and the current method of mechanical harvesting in this area by Mr. James Whetung.
The following are concerns of property owners that need to be addressed and hopefully viable solutions found for all parties involved:
- James Whetung, on a radio interview admitted he has seeded area lakes. The reason given for seeding the lakes was that the mechanical harvesting method does not allow the rice to replenish itself naturally and therefore seeding is necessary. Unfortunately, the seeding was not restricted to the seeding of original rice fields and this has resulted in rice fields growing in areas where boating was once a pleasure.
- He admits during this interview that TSW authority would not issue a permit for mechanical harvesting, but he chose to ignore their position on this matter. The interview can be found on Terrainforma.ca…..Replanting Ontario’s wild rice.
- The use of the airboat powered by an engine and airplane propeller is creating a constant roar, which far exceeds an acceptable sound level and does not conform to township bylaws.
- Navigation of the waterway has been drastically restricted.
- Waterfront access to properties and beaches is being restricted.
- Lakefront property value is being affected.
- LACK OF CLARITY AS TO WHICH GOVERNMENT BODIES AND DEPARTMENTS HAVE AUTHORITY IN RESPECT TO THE HARVESTING OF WILD RICE IN THE TRENT SEVERN WATERWAY.
TSW advised us that the mechanical harvesting of rice was illegal and the only approved method was the traditional canoe and paddle method. They also stated that they do not issue permits and neither do the MNR for harvesting rice in the TSW. Based on these statements councilor Sherry Senis and councillor Donna Ballantyne for Selwyn met with the police services board and forwarded this information to the O.P.P. for support in enforcement of TSW policies, as well as, the enforcement of the township’s noise bylaw.
The O.P.P. contacted Mr. James Whetung and verified that Mr. Whetung does have a permit for harvesting rice issued by the M.N.R. They also stated to me that if this is a commercial permit they cannot enforce the noise bylaw. I have been advised by the O.P.P., as far as they are concerned there is nothing more they can do, as he has a permit to harvest, using his current method.. It should be noted, the permit issued by the MNR, is for water bodies under the Provincial jurisdiction, not Pigeon Lake. This fact was verified by the T.S.W. Why did the O.P.P. accept a permit from the MNR even though it did not apply to Pigeon Lake?
I can appreciate and respect the O.P.P position on this matter, as it is confusing as to which government department has jurisdiction.
The fact that the TSW authority is reluctant to request the O.P.P to advise Mr. Whetung that he does not have the right to harvest rice in Pigeon Lake is of great concern and does raise questions that need to be answered, some of which follow:
a. What bodies of government and departments have the authority to issue a permit to harvest rice in the T.S.W.?
b. What bodies of government and departments have the authority to provide a permit for seeding of the lakes in the TSW?
c. Is it permissible to seed the lake and create rice fields that impede the usage of waterfronts without consultation with homeowners whose property value will be affected?
d. Is it permissible to harvest the rice in such a manner that will spread the seed spillage to other parts of the lake?
e. Is it permissible to create an environment that is affecting the quality of life of area residents? e. Noise levels during harvesting and the encroachment of rice fields on the shorelines which need to be removed in order to get access to the main waterway.
F. IS IT RIGHT, THAT ONE INDIVIDUAL CAN INTENTIONALLY SEED LAKES FOR HIS OWN PERSONAL FINANCIAL GAIN WITHOUT TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE AFFECT IT WILL HAVE ON THOUSANDS OF OTHERS?
Your assistance in obtaining answers to the above would be appreciated by all people affected. This would include property owners, tourists, resort operators, fishermen and recreational boaters.
It is our objective to be understanding of all views regarding this issue and develop solutions that will be acceptable to all concerned. The first step in achieving this objective is to stop mechanical harvesting and the seeding of the lakes by anyone until a policy is written providing enforceable guidelines. We would be pleased to work with a committee to assist in developing these guidelines.
Thank you, in advance, for your assistance. I look forward to receiving your reply.
- Letter to Mr. Kent
- Pictures sent to Mr. Kent.
- Reply from Mr. Kent.
- Email to councillor Sherry Senis (Selwyn) from councillor Donna Ballantyne re process to follow when filing a complaint.
- Email from Jason Postma stating the OPP position regarding this matter.
- Comments from Pigeon Lake residents.
- Pictures to illustrate the rapid growth of rice which is choking the waterways.
- Copy of flyer mailed to lakefront property owners.