A number of local fishing enthusiasts attended the December 11 council meeting worried that they would lose their ability to fish from the shore of municipal parkland along Bayfield Street, but before council could even debate a staff recommendation to ban fishing in the area, council put the proposal on ice – for now.
According to a staff report prepared for council, “The Municipality and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have received complaints regarding the activities of members of the public in the park lands to the north and west of Bayfield Street in the Municipality of Meaford.”
The report said that those activities of concern include public urination, urination on park features including the cannon near Fred Raper's Park, early morning noise, profanity, vulgarity, and the cleaning and selling of fish.
“The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is also aware of the concerns and activities,” noted the report which advised council to approve a recommendation that would ban fishing in a location popular with local and visiting fishing enthusiasts.
“This report has recommended that no fishing would be permitted on the municipal parkland to the north and west of Bayfield Street in the Municipality of Meaford, or from the municipal parkland known as Rapers Park,” read the report to council.
Prior to council addressing the agenda item, during public question period representatives of the BIA and the Meaford Chamber of Commerce asked council to defer a decision on the matter.
“We'd like to ask that you consider not doing a final vote on the fishing restriction notice that is coming up for a vote today until we've had time to do more work and understanding of the financial and other impacts within the municipality,” requested Dan White of the Chamber of Commerce. “It's not going to hurt to delay it a little while. We'd like to be able to talk to our constituents on both sides to understand how it would impact them, and maybe come forward with other recommendations that may help resolve the situation.”
When council arrived at the agenda item they agreed it would be wise to defer any decision to allow time to explore options other than an all out ban on fishing in the area.
“This action (the report and recommendation for a ban) was taken in response to a specific concern that has been ongoing for some time now. There have been many attempts to come to an acceptable resolution to this situation without success, so this was an attempt to find a solution,” Mayor Barb Clumpus told council. “Since then there has been new information and suggestions come forward, and I would like to suggest that we defer this report until the new year.”
The Mayor reminded council of the importance of fishing to the local economy.
“We acknowledge that fishing in our municipality is very, very important. Not only as a pastime, but it is an attraction for tourists, it is certainly a pastime that many of our residents enjoy,” noted Mayor Clumpus.
The Mayor's fellow members of council agreed and voted in favour of deferring a decision on the report until the new year.