Council to allow fish hatchery to continue for another year

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

GORE BAY—The Gore Bay Fish and Game Club (GBFGC) has received a reprieve from the town of Gore Bay on paying for rental space at its fish hatchery location, which will allow it to operate the hatchery for another year.

At a meeting last week, council was given a presentation by a GBFGC representative on what the group has accomplished over the past year in terms of fish raised and stocked in area waters, and in raising money to continue operating.

As reported previously, in July 2011 council had decided to allow the GBFGC to run the hatchery in the wharf building for another season, to June 2012, rent free (while the club paid hydro and other costs). However, council had passed a motion requiring the club to pay rent and hydro costs for any operations beyond the 2011-2012 season.

“Do you have a business plan that indicates exactly what it costs to run the hatchery?” asked councillor Lou Addison.

Ian Anderson explained “we had a business plan done a little over a year ago, by Todd Gordon, after a request from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).” He noted the year round operation would cost $55,875, including fish food, insurance, hydro, phone, sewer, rent and a minimum wage salary for one employee, to allow for about 120,000 fish to be raised.

“The last year has been one of our best in raising money for the hatchery we have been able to raise over $22,000, and we are cautiously optimistic about raising the same or more this year,” said Mr. Anderson. Mr. Anderson explained that two years ago the GBFGC had been promised by the MNR that an environmental assessment would be done (to raise rainbow trout in the hatchery), but this still hasn’t taken place. “We are pushing very hard for the MNR to make this happen. Diversity is the key to sport fishing.”

Councillor Betsy Clark said a year round operation where people can visit the hatchery is something the public wants to see take place.

“It is critical we become a year round operation,” said Mr. Anderson. “If we could raise fish all year round, an educational component could be developed and we could charge fees for visitors to the hatchery.”

“That’s what people want to see,” said Ms. Clark.

Mr. Anderson explained that since 1986, the hatchery has planted 2,786,236 fingerling salmon and trout in area waters during its 26 years of operation. He also noted that recreational fishing in Ontario adds $2.5 billion dollars in direct and induced economic activity to Ontario. As well, “in 2005 recreational anglers spent 900,000 days fishing on Lake Huron alone. The sports fishing industry is very important to Ontario and to Manitoulin.”

“The hatchery had a very successful year in 2011,” said Mr. Anderson. “Hatchery members raised 94,600 healthy Chinook salmon fingerlings and established an elaborate network of fundraising. A number of local and off-Island businesses pledged multi-year funding and several municipalities came on board in support of the Gore Bay hatchery, with many donors having pledged a five-year commitment.”

He said $22,114.46 was raised through donations, raffles, dinners and fish derbies.

As for fundraising in 2012, “the members are currently in the process of ramping up a spring fundraising campaign,” continued Mr. Anderson. “We have begun to seek donors in the Espanola area—this effort has been spearheaded by Stu Burns. To date he has received pledges from eight businesses, including Domtar, with the majority committed to the next five years.”

The membership has also researched and is applying to corporate foundations such as Shell Oil, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Tire, and the sum of $1,000 was earned recently by club members for a phone and mail campaign conducted for the Manitoulin Stewardship Council (in regards to the Manitoulin Deer Save Program).

“We are also selling raffle tickets for the OFAH (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters) by members for a net profit of $6 per book, and these proceeds are ear marked for the hatchery,” continued Mr. Anderson.

A successful chili luncheon was held on March 2, organized by Joyce McDonald and volunteers, which brought in over 150 people and netted approximately $250 to support the hatchery.

“It is our desire to continue to partner with the Town of Gore Bay,” stated Mr. Anderson. “We have a very long and successful partnership which has been essential to the success of the hatchery to date. Financially our overall position is much improved, but it requires a tremendous amount of work and the generous donations of many people to make this possible. Our current financial commitments match our current revenues with a lot of volunteer hours thrown in to make things work.”

“The Gore Bay hatchery and our 26 year history of successfully raising and stocking area waters can only have resulted in positive economic benefits for Gore Bay and area,” said Mr. Anderson. “Our planned improvements, and in particular the educational component, should lead to another local tourist attraction which will also benefit the town. This hatchery is your hatchery, please continue to help us to help you.”

Mr. Anderson presented a list of 72 individuals who have made donations, 16 corporations who have made five donation commitments, several municipalities and clubs, who have also contributed, as well as a list of other fundraisers the committee has undertaken.

Later in the meeting council considered the possibility of amending its motion to allow the club to continue operating the hatchery without paying rent, this year.

“So we do have a resolution that was passed by council last June,” said Mayor Ron Lane. “Clearly by the presentation made tonight you (GBFGC) are interested in us revisiting this.”

Mr. Lane explained if the town charged rent, based on a per square footage rate, it would work out to $756 per month or $9,072 per year based on current rates. He also pointed out the water and sewer, and phone and hydro is paid by the hatchery fund, while the hatchery is under town insurance. The wages of one worker at the hatchery is $750 every two weeks, which is again provided under the hatchery funds.

“Aside from the administration support the town provides, our financial contribution has been paying rent, which we have not charged since 2004,” said Mr. Lane.

“My question for the group is are you in the position to pay hydro going forward?” asked councillor Wes Bentley, to which he was told “yes.”

However, as for rent, “we are not in the position yet of paying rent,” Mr. Anderson responded. “Money raised last year offsets costs we do have. We are continuing to seek contributions through corporate sponsors.”

“The wharf building is under construction, and I don’t believe anyone will be moving in until next year, so there won’t be anyone else in the building until then,” said Ms. Clark. She suggested, “we could waive the rent until next June if council is in agreement with this.”

Councillors expressed concerns the MNR doesn’t provide more support, as is the case with few municipalities having supported the hatchery, even though the whole Island benefits from the fish raised and stocked in area waters.

“I commend you for your efforts, it is a long uphill battle. We can amend the motion that your group not have to pay rent until 2013,” said Ms. Clark.

Council passed the motion that the GBFGC will not have to pay rent until June 2013.