What You Should Know
Important negotiations are underway in Eastern Ontario that should be of concern to anyone who uses crown land in Eastern Ontario. If you recreate on crown land, off-road, ATV, snowmobile, canoe, kayak, boat, hunt, fish, camp, geocache, hike, ski, snowshoe or cottage on or near crown lands you should get informed and ensure that your rights and your usage of crown land is documented and considered.
The governments of Ontario and Canada have been holding confidential meetings to address the Algonquin Land Claim. As part of the preliminary draft Agreement-In-Principle more than 117,500 acres of crown land will be granted to the Algonquin as private land, a further 30,000 acres will be turned into a new park, and thousands of acres may be cut off from public access. Trail organizations will need to negotiate for access to trails crossing settlement lands.
Do not confuse this with conservation. The beneficiaries of the plan get virtually unlimited plant, fish and wildlife harvesting and mineral rights for the settlement lands.
There will be secondary effects caused by giving away crown land. The remaining crown land will feel more pressure from forestry. Tourism operators will be impacted. More recreational users and hunters and fishermen will be crowded on to less land and fewer lakes. The bottom line is nobody knows for sure how communities and recreation will be affected.
Off-roaders in Eastern Ontario may be directly impacted by loss of the crown land parcel around McNulty Lake that is crossed on entry to the Gorge trail. There is no other way into the trail without crossing private land. Roads to the Quinn trail are part of the land claim and it is not clear as yet whether road access to the trail will be cut-off. There may be other trails affected that have not yet been identified.
What You Can Do
There are public information sessions from March 6 to March 16. Please make an effort to attend a public information session, ask your questions, and let them know your concerns and how you use crown land.
- Get informed by reading the links below. The Agreement-In-Principle is written in plain English and can be accessed in PDF format from the Aboriginal Affairs web site. The maps show what parcels will be transferred and each is identified with a number.
- Request more information: identify the parcels that will impact your activities and go to the meetings and ask questions. The Ottawa meeting is this week: Wednesday March 6 from 3 pm to 8 pm. Kingston March 8 from 3 pm to 8 pm.
- Call, email or write your representatives to express your concerns about access to public lands. There is a list of contact numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses on the web site at www.algonquinlandclaim.ca.
- Complete the OFAH survey on www.algonquinlandclaim.ca and send it to them to help identify the different land uses that may be impacted by this agreement.
- Tell your friends and neighbours. If they use crown land they may be directly affected or suffer from secondary effects.
General Questions to Ask
- How will my access to crown land [location and activity] be impacted by this agreement?
- Will more crown land be transferred and under what conditions?
- What other groups have land claims that potentially impact this area?
- What will government do to ensure that remaining crown land is managed sustainably? Will sustainability measures apply equally to the Algonquin? Will any remaining crown land be closed to public access to make up for the loss of crown land?
- What is the impact on Forestry operations if the available crown land is reduced? Will more areas see harvest? This puts more pressure on recreation.
- What consultation has been done to ensure that users of crown land have been considered? Why are only property owners and land use permit holders notified?
Questions for Off-Roaders
- Will trails and access roads across land claim parcels that used to be crown land be closed?
- Will I need to pay a fee or negotiate access to crown land?
- Will I continue to be able to access the Gorge Trail (parcels #315_B, #129_R) ? Ask to see the “Descriptive plan” showing the survey, exact locations, and road allowances.
- Can I still use Norcan Lake Rd. to access the Quinn trail (parcels #242, #241) ?
- What is the area impacted by the parcel near Wabun Lake (Rusty Bat)? #315_Q
- Can trails and crown land be isolated by these land transfers? Would it be possible to open another access to the lands in question? There are between 1200 and 5000 acres of additional crown land that are accessed via the Gorge trail for off-roading, hunting, fishing, ATVing, etc.
- Aboriginal Affairs Preliminary Draft Agreement-In-Principle and Maps (read it!)
- Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association (CSIA), Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA) information web site and Questionnaire (includes contact information for your political representatives)
- OFAH Questionnaire (fill it out, send to OFAH and to your local off-road club)
- Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association
- Algonquins of Ontario newsletter describing the Agreement-In-Principle
- TV News coverage of the OFAH / CSIA / FOCA meeting in Stittsville (skip to 4:04)
- Radio interview with OFAH and FOCA leadership (about 8 mins)
- Ottawa Public Information Session Wednesday March 6: 3 pm – 8 pm at Tudor Hall
- Perth Public Information Session Thursday March 7: 3 pm – 8 pm at Perth Lions’ Hall
- Kingston Public Information Meeting Friday March 8: 3 pm – 8 pm at TraveLodge