Originally Published in the September 1994 issue of The Outfitter Magazine.
Dear Mr. Feilders:
Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you on August 17, 1994, to discuss the issues surrounding waterlot leases for our industry.
In order to provide you some direction with regard to where NOTO would like the discussions to go during this meeting, the following questions have been prepared. They summarize the feedback we have received from our membership since the Minister’s announcement last November at the NOTO Convention.
As you will see, there remains many unanswered questions for our industry with regard to the waterlot lease and what the future will bring. Our industry must have some direction from the MNR with regard to these questions, in order to set the framework for future discussions.
At the 1993 NOTO Convention, the Minister committed to charging non-commercial waterlots sometime in the future. When will this take place? Will there be equality of assessment between commercial tourist operators and other waterlot holders (i.e. private cottagers, bait fishermen, commercial fishermen)? Will the rate be in accordance with current rates charged to the forest and mining industries for the use of Crown lands (i.e. “area charge” for forest companies of $102/square kilometre)? If not, at what rate will each of these waterlot holders be assessed?
Will future waterlot assessments after the year 2000 be indexed to an economic indicator to ensure that assessments will not increase in an extraordinary fashion?
Will native-operated tourism operations (off-reserve) pay the same waterlot rate as non-native tourism operations?
With regard to land tenure issues, once the current agreement ends in the year 2000, will operators be guaranteed lease extension/renewal? For what term? What will be the leaseholder’s liability with regard to the waterlot?
What has the MNR done to clarify current restrictions against renting dock space, docking houseboats or adding improvements to the waterlot? Why must operators receive written approval prior to conducting annual maintenance/improvements to their docks that are not expansions (i.e. leveling after ice-out)?
Is the MNR looking at trying to extend the current waterlot system to the land under the cached boat? Does the current waterlot agreement set a legal precedent that allows the MNR to charge waterlot fees for cached boats?
Will the MNR place a moratorium on paying for current waterlots until these questions are answered? For your information, some operators have not been granted other permits by the Ministry until they pay their waterlot fee.
Mr. Feilders, there is a great deal of concern within our industry that operators are being asked to sign an open agreement with the Crown for a waterlot without knowing what the Ministry intends to do once the current agreement ends. As you can imagine, this is causing a great deal of grief within the industry. That is why NOTO is requesting answers and clarifications to the above questions.
Furthermore, problems still exist within some Districts about the details of the current agreement, with the result being that some operators continue to be levied an annual fee for their waterlot that is based on a market value assessment, when they should only be paying a onetime fee of $125.00.
NOTO President Bud Dickson and myself are looking forward to our meeting and are looking forward to discussing these questions with you. I trust that you will be able to provide us with the clarification requested at that time.
Jim Grayston, Executive Director
Please note: Mr. Bart Feilders will be at the 1994 Convention to update the membership on the waterlot issue and to answer the above question. Don’t miss this important session on November 7th in Timmins!