Sunday gun hunting to be allowed in Minto

MINTO – Hunting with guns will be allowed here on Sundays, following a unanimous decision of town council.

Council passed a resolution on March 5 to request the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry amend the appropriate regulation to include the Town of Minto in the list of municipalities that authorize Sunday gun hunting in Ontario.

With the move, Minto joins 191 Ontario municipalities, including Wellington North and Guelph/Eramosa in Wellington County, that allow Sunday gun hunting.

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act allows municipalities south of the French and Mattawa rivers to permit hunters to use guns on Sunday.

North of those points municipal approval is not required.

A delegation of area residents appeared at the Feb. 20 meeting to request council pass a resolution to implement the change.

The delegation, led by Minto resident Jill Machan, supplied more than 20 letters of support and a petition signed by about 130 people in favour of Sunday gun hunting.

However, a letter received at the March 5 meeting from Minto resident Susan Jewell stated hunters often walk onto her family’s forested rural property without permission.

Jewell noted Sundays are “our only day of peace where we are not concerned we may be hurt going out for a walk.

“We have had occasions where people send their hunting dogs onto our property without our permission.

“We have had hunters gut a deer on our property and leave the entrails on our trails.”

She added, “We also wonder if other people in the towns of Minto and surrounding communities would feel safer walking on our beautiful trails in Minto if there were no Sunday gun hunting.”

“I don’t want anybody to feel unsafe on their own property. And I sure don’t want anybody to feel unsafe on the trails,” said councillor Judy Dirksen.

“I think those are things that you need to at least be aware of. Not saying that we need to turn this down, just that we need to be aware of that.

“And I think the people, the hunters that she’s talking about, those bad eggs, they’re not all like that.”

Dirksen said the town should be advising residents to post their properties if they don’t want people hunting on them.

“If there was somebody on your lands that shouldn’t be, you would call the OPP to have them removed,” added clerk Annilene McRobb.

Mayor Dave Turton noted posting the property and calling the OPP about trespassers are options for residents currently, regardless of the Sunday hunting question.

“It’s all well and good to say she can post a sign,” said deputy mayor Jean Anderson.

However, Anderson noted, “my understanding is people have to ask for express permission to come and hunt on somebody’s land,” and the Jewell family never given such permission.

Anderson said she spoke to Jewell about her letter and was advised hunters have claimed they have followed their dogs onto the property.

“Their excuse is they have to follow the dogs and then she comes along and she finds she’s taking her children walking and there are the entrails of an animal,” said Anderson.

“It is a trespassing issue. It’s not a bylaw issue,” noted McRobb.

“I understand that, but it’s still a concern that’s been raised in our community,” said Anderson.

Interim acting CAO Mark Potter suggested, “What we can do is definitely post information on our website to landowners on steps that they can take to ensure that, if they are not interested in having people hunt on their lands, what they could do.”

Director of planning and building Terry Kuipers pointed out following dogs onto a property “would not give that hunter the right to discharge a firearm on that person’s property.”

“All these concerns are important,” said councillor Ron Elliot.

However, he noted, “we’re talking about people that go … on somebody else’s land without permission.

“It’s not going to matter whether it’s Sunday or whether it’s Monday, these guys are going to do that anyway, if they’re ‘bad actors,’ as councillor Dirksen said.”

Turton said he “look(s) at this whole situation as positive,” adding discussions around the issues have resulted in information about property owners’ rights and hunting regulations being brought to light.

Council voted unanimously in favour of a resolution to take steps to permit Sunday gun hunting in the municipality.