Gore Bay formally requests UCCMM to withdraw land claim on marina, harbour

Tom Sasvari
The Recorder
GORE BAY—While the Town of Gore Bay has formally requested the United Chiefs and Councils of M’Nidoo Mnising (UCCMM) to reconsider its position, (on its claims and concerns with the proposed divestiture of the Gore Bay municipal marina facility to the town, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada), it appears $1 million that would have been provided from the federal ministry for future maintenance and repairs of the harbour facility have been lost. The deadline for response had previously been set for November 18, 2011.
“We sent a formal letter to Chief Shining Turtle (Tribal Chair of the UCCMM) outlining our position and asking the UCCMM to reconsider and withdraw its claim,” stated Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane last Friday. As of Tuesday, the town had not received a reply on its letter.
Mr. Lane said consultation has taken place with senior management of the DFO had taken place in the last few days. “We have not received official word as of yet, but it appears we are no longer eligible for the funds of $1 million without the transfer of ownership of the marina; as part of the agreement they would provide $1 million.”
“The problem is that because this funding is only available in this fiscal year, unless the objection is withdrawn the avenue for funding being provided will go by,” continued Mr. Lane. “It is premature at this point to say the money is lost, but it is fair to say because of the tight timelines it is as much in jeopardy as it has been before.”
Mr. Lane explained at a town public works committee meeting held last Friday. “As part of our conversation we are still interested in the divestiture, but in case it doesn’t take place, we discussed other options one being to request the DFO provide funding for our proposed break wall project. This would be better than getting no money at all.”
Town office staff has been requested to put together a funding package to be forwarded to the DFO. “At this point we need to consider how to move forward if we don’t receive the money through a divestiture,” continued Mr. Lane. “If we could get funding from the DFO for the break wall project there would be no difference in the funding we have received from them before—they have provided a lot of assistance in the past,” he said.
Mr. Lane pointed out that currently the town leases part of the waterfront from DFO and when projects such as dredging of the marina or other projects are undertaken, the ministry has provided funding for the project.
However, Mr. Lane stressed that all of this is very preliminary.
The public works and property committee put forward a recommendation, which was passed, to proceed with an application for funding to DFO for the break wall project, while it awaits formal notice on whether they will receive the $1 million.
“Obviously this is a huge concern to us, since the UCCMM filed the objection to the transfer of ownership of the marina,” said Mr. Lane.
As reported previously, the town of Gore Bay is hoping the UCCMM will reconsider its position, opposing the divestiture of the Gore Bay municipal marina facility to the town from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The town has been in negotiations with the ministry for the past 10 years with the goal of obtaining a transfer for the federal government’s interest in the harbour land, which is currently located at the Gore Bay municipal marina, which the town leases from the ministry.
The UCCMM have made it known to federal government authorities they are completely opposed to the move. As well as the transfer of ownership, the agreement would provide for a substantial one-time grant of funds in the amount of $1 million from the federal ministry to the town for the purpose of future maintenance and repairs of the harbour facilities. It has also been pointed out by the town they have been advised this may be the last year this type of grant is available. It was anticipated the transfer would be complete before March 31, 2012.
The area of the marina which is not already been owned by the town, which would be a part of the transfer, includes an area at the fish point, as well as some of the harbour and the main wall of the marina.