The use of private and publicly-owned property is sometimes a contentious matter, a fact driven home by the current threat of the withdrawal of crucial privately-owned Manitoulin Island properties from Manitoulin Snowdusters Snowmobile Club and Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs trail use.
Two events this past week speak to the benefits of a cooperative model with examples of both private land becoming public and of the augmented use of private lands, to the benefit of the larger community.
In the case of the private land coming into public (municipal) hands, this refers to a gift from Mrs. Lily Fielding (widow of Cliff Fielding) on behalf of the Fielding family of nearly three acres adjacent to the Manitoulin Centennial Manor and Channelview Apartments properties in Little Current, overlooking Low Island Park and the North Channel.
The land, which had 50 years ago been gifted to the town along with the Low Island Park property by the Little Current Lions Club, had eventually been sold by the town for the development of condominium-style housing by the private sector.
This particular parcel changed hands twice more before coming to the Fielding family and Mrs. Fielding decided to deed it back to the municipality.
Because of its location and proximity to existing seniors’ services, the municipality has announced it is earmarking the land for potentially new seniors’ housing.
This is appropriate because Dr. Roy Jeffery has recently begun to campaign for assisted living housing in Little Current. He chose Little Current as a location because he felt some services (dietary, food preparation, laundry) could be provided by the Manitoulin Centennial Manor which could, in turn, profit from such an arrangement.
What an appropriate gift of particularly useful real estate, because of its location, to a municipality.
A few days later, at Norton’s Creek just where it travels under the Bidwell Road, a dedication was made to the memory of the late owner of the property that contains all of this small creek which goes on to flow into Lake Manitou.
The late Bob Hutton had purchased the property and then he and his family had worked diligently with the Manitoulin Streams organization to bring back Norton’s Creek to the brook trout spawning grounds it once was.
This was Mr. Hutton’s dream: he provided the stream and Manitoulin Streams provided the expertise. The stream is now a brook trout sanctuary and in a few short years of planting eggs, several generations and age categories now inhabit the creek and also Lake Manitou where they have become a viable species for anglers. The adult brook trout are now returning to Norton’s Creek to spawn and so the cycle continues.
The memorial to Mr. Hutton includes a monument attesting to his vision but the Hutton family has also built an outdoor classroom on their property just off the Bidwell Road where students from area schools can come and help out with the egg planting process (that is, for the time being, continuing) and where they can also be taught about the fish’s life cycle in the creek and, as adult fish, in the adjacent lake.
These are two recent examples of private-public partnerships working to the larger community’s advantage.
There have been several other of these, often involving streams: the walleye spawning zone, also a sanctuary along Bass Creek between Sheguiandah Bay and the Bass Lake dam beside Highway 6, is an example.
This has been a cooperative arrangement between the Little Current Fish and Game Club and Manitoulin Streams that has seen a successful and strong walleye/pickerel fishery re-emerge in Sheguiandah Bay, once again augmenting the tourist economy.
Along the Blue Jay Creek and Manitou River, neighbouring farmers have cooperated with the upgrading of these water bodies as a rainbow trout and salmon spawning grounds and this has also been the case along the Mindemoya River between the Lake Mindemoya contral dam and the river’s mouth at Providence Bay where, once again, the river has been augmented by Manitoulin Streams with the cooperation of neighbouring landowners.
Manitoulin is by far the richer for these cooperative ventures for they all are serving to add value to this important and unique Island.