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Group looking for Crown land solution

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A group of local stakeholders is hoping the province will look at its solution for the future of Crown land in northwestern Ontario and not be grouped into a regional decision.

A draft proposal, put together by reps from various different interest groups, was presented to the North Western Ontario Tourism Association at its annual general meeting held at La Place Rendez-Vous last Thursday and Friday by Steve Watson (Abitibi-Consolidated), Shawn O'Donnell (Fort Frances Sportsmen's Club) and Chuck Mosbeck and Donna Allison (NWOTA).

So far, NWOTA hasn't decided yet whether it will endorse the proposal but will be discussing it more in the future.

The group also will be looking for endorsement at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Zone A meeting Nov. 15 in Dryden.

Key to their proposal is "integrated use" for the land, building upon cooperation amongst the local stakeholders. And with provincial models drawing out single-use areas for the different users, some fear they might find themselves in an "exclusive zone."

"I think one of the most basic things we could agree on was multiple use," Watson told NWOTA members Thursday, with Mosbeck noting the word "exclusive" was hard for him to swallow.

The group first started meeting about a month and a half ago after the "Lands For Life" public meeting in Fort Frances. And it stressed they want to work with the "Lands For Life" committee to come up with a model for "multiple and integrated use of the land."

"I want local solutions for the sharing of area resources," O'Donnell explained. "The big fear for most is having southern Ontario dictate what happens in the North without proper consultation."

"We aren't trying to decide anything for 'Lands For Life' outside of the Kenora district," Mosbeck assured.

"We're looking at local decisions. 'Lands for Life' is looking at regional decisions," O'Donnell said, explaining how their proposal was different from the "Lands For Life" process.

"This is part of the solution," agreed Sportsmen's Club director Henry Miller. "[And] they're looking for solutions. We're giving them one by getting together."

Other recommendations in the proposal include:

oextending the time line;

ogetting firm definitions of "primary," "dedicated," "intensive," or "enhanced" zones when referring to specific types of resource use;

oa socio-economic and resource impact study of alternatives; and

oa primary role for each stakeholder at the start and end of the "Lands For Life" process.

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