The biggest catch so far at Lake Margaret . . . those fishing illegally

city_scope_logo-cmykIt took a question from Coun. Jim Herbert at Monday’s (June 7) council meeting to get a sense of how people are handling newfound freedom at Lake Margaret.
Coun. Herbert pointed out, “people don’t seem to be following the bylaws, you go by and people are fishing. How many tickets have been given out? Hopefully, it is settling down.”
To which Jeff Bray, the city’s new director of parks, recreation and property management responded, “I can’t say how many tickets have been issued. I know bylaw enforcement has been out there and I can check with them.
“I know the Ministry of Natural Resources has been very active there and they have been issuing lots of tickets.
Bray continued, “On Sunday, I know that they gave a bit of an education piece to 10 to 15 fishers out there. They were 12 to 16 years of age.

Lake Margaret sign“Yesterday alone they levied 10 charges, not all related to fishing. Some were for people in a canoe and not having life jackets.”
So much for signage.
“We’re very grateful for the MNR showing a presence out there. I think if anything that will spread very quickly on social media.
“We’re going to be documenting all this and coming back to council with commentary from the public and fines levied and hopefully have a way forward.
Remember, just last month it was Coun. Steve Peters, who warned, “Has anybody consulted with the Ministry of Natural Resources because the ministry provides enforcement for fishing licences?
“This just isn’t about children fishing, this is about everyone having the opportunity to fish.”
If that’s not enough it appears the lake has now become a swimming hole.
Coun. Peters said he is in receipt of an email about concerns regarding people swimming.
Peters is looking for clarity on signage advising of what is permitted.
That would be the signage that apparently few people are paying attention to at present.
Bray assured, “We’ll move forward on the swimming signage.”
After contentious debate over what should be permitted at Lake Margaret, the majority of council, including Mayor Joe Preston, appear content to turn a blind eye to the very behaviour members were warned about.
Relying on the MNR and social media to police a city-owned lake seems a less-than-ideal solution.

Related posts:

The Lake Margaret debate: Coun. Steve Peters argues for ‘healthy living and healthy lifestyle for the environment’

No need to fish for comments on Lake Margaret usage


Encouraging news Wednesday (June 9) from Dr. Joyce Lock, the area’s medical officer of health.
That morning, Southwestern Public Health advised the active COVID-19 case count in the health unit’s coverage area was down to 19.
“We haven’t seen a number this low since February and I am thrilled with where we are.”
She continued, “We have no residents in hospital, we have no institutional outbreaks and we have no workplace outbreaks.”
Memorial Arena vaccination 1“On the prevention front, as of yesterday (June 8), 119,200 residents of the Southwestern Public Health region have now received at least one dose of our vaccine, which is approximately 56 per cent of the total population.”
In St. Thomas, the health unit has done a yeoman job at Memorial Arena of vaccinating area residents. The old barn has never looked so good.
This brings us to Monday’s (June 14) council agenda which includes a report from city manager Wendell Graves recommending members agree to extend the current agreement between the city and the health unit for use of Memorial Arena as a Covid 19 vaccination site until the end of the year.
The original agreement ran through Sept. 1.
Never in its decades-long history has Memorial Arena served in such a vital capacity.
Graves notes, “Given the high importance of the vaccination centre, Parks and Recreation staff will work with user groups to facilitate them as best as possible at the Joe Thornton Community Centre for any fall programming that might take place.”
The costs associated with the vaccination centre are borne by Southwestern Public Health.

Related post:

A defining moment in the history of St. Thomas’ Memorial Arena to be written this spring and summer


Last month, St. Thomas-Elgin joined a select group of Canadian municipalities in the fight against homelessness.
We are now a member of the Built For Zero – Canada (BFZ-C) campaign that supports communities to help achieve functional zero on chronic and veteran’s homelessness as a first step to eliminating all forms of homelessness in this country.
Functional zero is achieved when the number of people experiencing chronic, veteran’s or other forms of homelessness in a community of our size is three (or less).
Built for Zero Canada logoIn 2019, 20 Ontario municipalities were successful in becoming BFZ-C communities. To date, all 20 municipalities have been supported to attain quality real-time data and are progressing at different stages to achieve functional zero.
In February of this year, London became the first Canadian community to achieve functional zero in veteran’s homelessness.
BFZ-C relies on a comprehensive data collection and case management system designed to better understand homelessness within a community and work collaboratively across systems.
Ensuring homelessness for any individual is rare, brief and non-recurring.
As a starting point, the city will undertake a homelessness enumeration, where on a specific day demographic information and data about people experiencing homelessness is collected.
This point in time count will be undertaken Sept. 29 and require “a significant number of volunteers strategically based out of multiple locations,” according to a report to council for Monday’s meeting from Danielle Neilson, the city’s housing and homelessness supervisor.
orgcode_logo_trimmedShe notes recruitment efforts for volunteers will begin this summer.
A similar enumeration was conducted by OrgCode Consulting in 2019 at which time it was determined there are 159 homeless persons in St. Thomas and Elgin, 33 of whom are children within homeless families completing the survey and 17 were individuals being sheltered by Violence Against Women Services Elgin County and who did not participate in the survey.
OrgCode stresses this is a minimum number “and almost certainly misses some of those homeless at the time of the enumeration,” according to Ralph West, the city’s housing services administrator.
In summarizing the survey results, West notes “Only 38% of those surveyed were “chronically homeless”, that is, they fit the conventional profile of what homelessness looks like.
“The remaining 62% were those who were homeless at the time of the survey, but may not have been had the survey taken place two months earlier or two months later.”
West added the results show that homeless respondents include a high percentage of persons with mental health issues (52%) and substance use issues (30%).
He points out, “it is notable that equally high numbers of homeless persons have chronic health conditions (45%) and physical disabilities (30%).”
An alarming finding is the percentage of those reporting aboriginal ancestries (20%) is approximately 10 times the percentage of aboriginal persons within the general population of St. Thomas and Elgin.
OrgCode Consulting will again analyze the data collected through the enumeration to write a final report due to the province by the end of the year.

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If council approves on Monday, the city will unleash pet licensing fees while adjusting upward the fee structure for impoundment and adoption of animals.
In a report to council from Tracey Tiersma in the environmental services department comes the not surprising statistic that the current licensing compliance rate is only 17.8% for dogs and 3.6% for cats.
Animal ServicesLeading to the conclusion from Tiersma that “monetary resources and staff time could be better allocated to expanded animal services and animal by-law enforcement.”
She notes, “Both the City of Woodstock and the Municipality of East Zorra-Tavistock have discontinued their dog licensing program with success.”
In her report she continues, “Previous research revealed that our current fees are grossly undervalued in comparison to our neighbouring municipalities and that we are using pet tag revenues to subsidize our services.”
If adopted, the impound fee would jump to $100 from $25 and the daily boarding fee would increase from $15 to $25.

“If adoption and pound fees are adjusted to the suggested levels, there will be no operating budget impact by removing the tag revenue.”

As for adoption, fees for cats of either gender will increase to $175 while dog fees will increase to $375 across the board with microchipping included in all cases.
As for financial implications to the city Tiersma concludes, “there will be a minor loss in revenue but this will be offset by a reduction in the expenses of purchasing animal tags, mailings, pet store administrative fees, labour, and program administrative costs.
“If adoption and pound fees are adjusted to the suggested levels, there will be no operating budget impact by removing the tag revenue.”
Pet identification such as microchipping or personalized tags will be the responsibility of the owner.

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One thought on “The biggest catch so far at Lake Margaret . . . those fishing illegally

  1. Lake Margaret ( Axford’s Gravel Pit ) has been a”swimming hole “ for years ! It didn’t just start since the vote on council to allow fishing and non- motorized boating..Come on folks, don’t be fooled by some comments from a few people. IT is the ministry’s mandate to enforce all boating and fishing rules whether its Pinafore Pond, Dalewood ,Waterworks or any other body of water along with local enforcement rules. Oh , there won’t be any charges laid on Pinafore, Dalewood or Waterworks .. Reason ? they are “ sesspools” and polluted. No one in their right mind would want to boat or swim in those bodies of water. Let’s have a water quality test done to see how clean they are. I think we have a water quality assessment already on LM from 2019 don’t we? ..LM is now a publicly owned Lake and every citizen has a right to use this body of water of course with rules and provisions. People need to stop the fear mongering .. I walk that lake and park almost 7 days a week and there is not a garbage problem either. For the most part , I dodge Goose crap on a daily basis . . Let’s deal with the migratory bird that doesn’t migrate anymore and leave us to enjoy and recreate on a beautiful area. Dave McCormick


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