IN QUOTES: Georgian Bay puts Sunday gun hunting debate to bed

·3 min read

Georgian Bay is electing not to publicly reopen the contentious discussion on Sunday gun hunting: at the meeting on March 9, council heard a presentation from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters on why the township should allow residents to hunt with a firearm on Sundays, which was met with criticism from all councillors.

Brian McRae, senior adviser of community and partner relationships with the Federation, gave the presentation arguing in favour of lifting the ban, addressing issues related to wildlife management, public safety, economic benefits and crop and livestock predation.

Georgian Bay's council told McRae, according to conversations with constituents, nonhunters are against lifting the ban and hunters are mostly indifferent on the matter.

Here is the conversation in quotes:

"For many people, hunting is a family activity, but for those who work during the week, they currently have only one day per week where they can share in this activity with other family members. By allowing for Sunday gun hunting, you are doubling their opportunities to hunt along with the associated benefits." — Brian McRae, Ontario Federation of Antlers and Hunters, in the summary of a six-part presentation to the township

"I heard the message very loud and clear from my constituents: that they do not want Sunday hunting. They want the peace and tranquility of walking through the bush without the high risk of encountering a hunter ... while my personal feelings say, 'Let's hunt on Sunday,' my constituents do not want it." — Coun. Brian Bochek, for Ward 3, speaking in favour of maintaining the ban

"I've talked to every hunter that I know in our township ... all of them said there is no need for Sunday gun hunting in our community. I can pretty much state that if I continue this survey process in the community, there would be no appetite for Sunday gun hunting." — Coun. Allan Hazelton, for Ward 4, speaking against the idea proposed by the township of launching a survey to gauge constituents' feelings on the regulations

"Unfortunately, there is a major clash with our seasonal people up here, and I can understand that ... there is hunting, whether you like it or not … the message I’m getting primarily from most people is they would just like to have one day that they can feel a little safer in the bush even knowing there is hunting." — Coun. Cynthia Douglas, Ward 1, speaking to the divisive nature of this debate

"This is the third or fourth time that this has been brought up when I've been on council ... the local hunters don't really care. They all go north ... based on past surveys, I don't think the opinions changed." — Coun. Paul Wiancko, Ward 1 and 3, speaking in favour of maintaining the ban

After nearly an hour of conversation, the councillors unanimously voted in favour of a motion stating that council supports the current regulations regarding Sunday gun hunting practices and chose not to launch a survey or schedule a meeting for public input.

Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com