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Residents call for right to hunt with guns on Sundays in Minto

MINTO – Hunters in Wellington County may soon have a new municipality to hunt in seven days of the week.

In response to more than 20 letters and a petition with 84 signatures in support of hunting with a gun in Minto on Sundays, council has motioned for staff to return with a report considering the proposal at the next council meeting.

While Wellington North and Guelph/Eramosa currently permit gun hunting on Sundays, Minto is among the five municipalities in Wellington County that don't.

"We all have different means and ways of spending family time and that definition to each of us can be very different," said Jill Machan, a Minto resident and hunter who brought forward the proposal. "Some choose to ATV, some choose to hunt, some choose religion, and some choose all of the above. And that's all okay."

Of the residents she spoke to, Machan said the big question was why isn't hunting with a gun on Sundays allowed in the first place versus why would we not?

She also commented that allowing gun hunting on Sundays would coordinate well with the Life Outdoors Show coming to Clifford later this year, especially considering the positive community response to both the event and the proposal at hand.

"Both my son and daughter enjoy hunting with their grandfather on his farm and sometimes with our busy schedules there isn't time during the week or Saturday," said Jesse Hutton, in one letter of support. "Adding the option for Sunday would increase the likelihood of them getting to spend time with their grandparents doing what we love to do as a family together."

"I work a shift schedule that precludes me from hunting on set days of the week. Frequently, I only have a Sunday off to pursue my passion, hunting," said Paul Prowse, in another letter of support.

Manager of policy at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Mark Ryckman also delegated in support of the issue during the meeting as he believes Sunday gun hunting is "clearly" not a threat to public safety and can increase harvest levels, decrease predation on crops and livestock and provide increased economic activity.

"There's no logical reason to think that hunting is any less safe on a Sunday than it is on the other days that it currently occurs in Minto," said Ryckman, during the meeting. "Continuing to prohibit Sunday gun hunting is an untenable position given the suite of benefits associated with it."

According to Mapleton CAO Manny Baron, while the township revisited the possibility of allowing Sunday gun hunting in 2016, he said he has not personally received one official request to change the decision and unless one is received, the issue will not be brought back to council.

Hunting with a gun is not currently permitted on Sundays in Centre Wellington and there is no current plan to change that as staff said they receive "a handful" of hunting inquiries a year, although not specific to Sundays.

Sunday gun hunting is not currently allowed in Erin, however discharging firearms or target shooting is allowed outside town limits, as there is no firearms discharge bylaw in place. Mayor Michael Dehn said the town has never received any inquiries related to the topic.

Gun hunting on Sundays is also not allowed in Puslinch.

In Southern Ontario, 191 municipalities currently allow Sunday gun hunting with the townships of Springwater and Scugog most recently joining the group earlier this month.

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program

Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com