|Written By: Bud Dickson
Former NOTO President
|Originally Published in the April/May 1994
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.
On April 20, 1994, the Environmental Assessment Board released its decision on the Timber Class EA. The result for our industry? VERY DISAPPOINTING! For the most part the Status Quo when it comes to tourism.
After 4 ½ years of hearings, (May 1988 – November 1992), 1 ½ years of waiting for a decision (November 92 – April 1994) and the spending of untold millions of dollars by all parties involved, the MNR has been granted approval by the EA Board to undertake Timber Management activities in the area stretching from the Manitoba border to roughly Peterborough and Ottawa. However, the Board did specify 115 conditions that go along with their approval, relating to how timber management planning is to be carried out over the life of the approval (9 years).
For the resource-based tourism industry, our fundamental concerns and problems have not been resolved. A summary of key decisions reached by the Board on major topics of interest to our industry are outlined in the next article.
Since the hearings began in 1988, NOTO was a full-time party (intervener) to the proceedings. In the beginning, NOTO tried to carry its case forward on its own. However, the costs involved became too much of a strain for the Association and with no end in sight to the hearings we were forced to release our lawyer, Bob Edwards, in the spring of 1990. In May 1991, however, a coalition was formed with the OFAH (another party to the hearings) in order for both parties to receive cost-saving benefits while ensuring our common concerns remained front and centre before the Board.
NOTO had a number if issues it wanted to see addressed at the hearings and hopefully in the Board’s decision. In almost every case, the “solutions” provided by the Board remain unsatisfactory. Let me explain further.
One of the biggest issues faced by our industry when it comes to timber management is access, and the negative impacts it can have on tourism, (especially remote tourism) relating to over-harvest of resources, noise, aesthetics and a loss of “wilderness experience” for our guests. As I stated during my testimony as an Expert Witness to the hearings, “You can offer a tremendous service, you can have the highest quality equipment, but if you don’t have a resource to work with, you’re going to be in trouble. And it’s because – one operator said, we should be a featured species but rather we’re an endangered species, and the future for our industry, as things now stand, is very scary. And traditionally the forest management practices of this province have not treated us kindly, they have been very insensitive, they haven’t recognized our true value to the community as a whole, they’ve worked with us and often times we may see it as tokenism. When mistakes have been made misunderstandings have happened, it’s usually the operator that pays a price or suffers. It’s kind of like we get bullied along by the big bully.” (Volume 360, p. 62665)
The EA Board has decided that tourism interests, especially remote tourism can be protected through use of the Timber Management Guidelines for the Protection of Tourism Values and through participation of operators on local citizens Committees. I believe this will be inadequate.
As many of us know, the existing Tourism Guidelines do not protect tourism interests. They may address aesthetic concerns in some cases, but they do not resolve the fundamental issues of adequate reserve sizes and protection from access roads. Even mandatory applications of the guidelines will not meet our needs.
While NOTO supports the use of local Citizens Committees in preparing TMP’s, past experiences with citizen’s committees have not always been kind to the tourism interests. As one voice in 10 or 12 (in most cases), tourism interests are often voted down by other committee members who have different views as to the use of the forest. This will have to improve for Local Citizens Committees to work better for our industry.
It is clear that the EA Board did not get the message we tried to give them regarding the impacts of timber management on our industry. We tried to present the best case we could with the limited resources we had, but, evidently it was not enough. The staff and money resources available to MNR and the forest industry allowed them to present much more extensive cases and argument and this seemed to carry the day with the Board.
NOTO staff have been in touch with representatives from other major interveners and it appears no one is pleased with the decision.
Despite the result, it was still necessary for NOTO and its membership to participate in the hearing process. If we had not been there to bring tourism concerns to the forefront, one can only imagine how much worse the decision might have been.
As NOTO’s President I want to thank all those members, former Board Members and staff who worked on NOTO’s case at the hearings. Having appeared as an expert witness for the Coalition’s case, I can tell you first hand how intimidating hearings can be, especially when lawyers are involved. I also want to single out a former NOTO Member, Suzanne Dube (Veilleux) who also appeared as an Expert Witness for our case.
Last but not least, I want to thank the following tourist operators who made presentations at the various satellite hearings held throughout Northern Ontario. The following people are listed as witnesses in the EA Board’s decision. If anyone has been omitted, my apologies.
Larry Adams, L & M Outposts (Emo)
Dave Beaushene, Nestor Falls Fly-In Outposts (Nestor Falls)
Roy Bennet, Air Kenda/Kenda Wilderness Lodge (Gogama)
Rob Brodhagen, Rob’s Canadian Wilderness Resort (Dryden)
Hugh Carlson, Viking Outposts (Red Lake)
Bill Coppen, Loon Haunt Outposts (Red Lake)
Bernie Cox, Hollinshead Lake Outfitters (Kakabeka Falls)
Wendel Dafcik, Crow Rock Camps (Kenora)
Rick Everson, Everson’s Lodge (Wawa)
Jim Gibb, K-C Outfitters (Timmins)
Vern Hollet, Stale Falls Outposts/Sioux Lookout Hudson Tourist Outfitters Assoc. (Sioux Lookout)
Bob Huitikka, Wilderness Air (Vermilion Bay)
John Kapel, Kap’L Executive Lodge (Timmins)
Owen Korpela, Shallow Lake Camping/Missinaibi Outfitters (Mattice)
Bruce LaVigne, Northern Wilderness Outfitters (Fort Frances)
Don MacLachlan, White River Air (Wawa)
Betty McGie, Watson’s Algoma Vacations (Wawa)
Rod Munford, Northwinds/Pinegrove (Vermilion Bay)
George Nixon, Megisan Lake Outfitters (Sault Ste. Marie)
John Schreiber, Air Dale/Ontario Wilderness Vacations (Wawa)
John Smart, Granit Hill Lake Resort (Hornepayne)
George Theriault, Air Ivanhoe Ltd. (Foleyet)
Mal Tygesson, Evergreen Lodge (Eagle River)
Dean Wenborne, French River Resort Association (Alban)
Marvin Wisneski, Stanley’s West Arm Resort (Vermilion Bay)
Gary Wogenstahl, Wogenstahl’s Canadian Resort & Trailer Park (Vermilion Bay)