WHITEDUCK PROVINCIAL PARK
BIG GULL LAKE STAKEHOLDERS
The Proposed Whiteduck Provincial Park on Big Gull Lake: Chronology of Events
By - Richard McIlveen, December 11, 2020
As a small group of concerned cottagers on Big Gull Lake, it is our intention to recap for all ‘stakeholders’ on the lake, the steps we have taken to date to learn about and respond to this ‘consultation’ process. We hope this summary and chronology of events and links will help everyone understand the current state of affairs.
On November 4, BGLEECA members received notice in an email from Donna Commerford about the proposed Whiteduck Provincial Park. In the email we were directed to a web page outlining a draft assessment for the proposed park.
We learned a consultation period had begun on October 26 and would end December 10, 2020.
Although the Ministry did send out an email on October 26 to the Federation of Ontario Cottage Associations (FOCA), and North Frontenac Township, they failed to notify the cottage owners, or the association directly connected to the property owners on Big Gull Lake. There was no onus on FOCA or North Frontenac to inform others. In fact, BGLEECA only found out through a contact at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) who had become aware of the news.
Reacting to this development, a group of cottagers who are south shore neighbours made contact, talked about it, and decided to gather information to have a considered response to the consultation request regarding the proposed Whiteduck Provincial Park.
We asked for and received a phone meeting with Ontario employees, Lesley Baird, Kirsty Dickson and Peter Addison, within the auspice of the Algonquin Land Claim Intake Team (ALC). Several other cottagers have now been able to have conversations with this team as well.
During the two-hour phone meeting on November 12 we asked a series of questions related to the proposed park and eventually received a written synopsis of their replies. We pointed out during the meeting that as stakeholders, we had not been notified about this development. They agreed and apologized for the omission and in an subsequent email we were granted an extension to the consultation window until January 25, 2021. This response also cites a number of relevant links to the issues. The Ontario government’s chief negotiator, Doug Carr also responded on the extension.
(To link to the questions posed by our group and the provided ALC answers - link here)
In the ALC Intake Team written response to our group, they also attached a chart outlining what activities can happen at the proposed ‘Natural Environment Class’ provincial park that initially only focused on Crotch Lake but now includes the south shore of Big Gull Lake.
(See Attached chart on possible park activities here)
When it became apparent to our group that the actual recreational and educational activities that would take place in the proposed Provincial Park would not be discussed or projected until after the boundary of the park had been decided we concluded the consultation process is flawed. The process that is in place makes it impossible to understand and comment meaningfully without any forward-looking information other than the descriptor of a “Natural Environment Class” park. Nor did we understand why a section of Big Gull Lake had been added to the proposal sometime after the last published information in 2017.
For this reason, we decided that we needed to communicate both at the ground level of the ACL Feedback Team through a written response to the consultation on January 25, as well as to lobby and communicate with upper echelon decision-makers across ministries in the government to make our concerns known. Linked here is the letter written to the Honourable Jeff Yurek, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks. And cc’d to several ministerial and BGL stakeholder groups.
We reached out to members of North Frontenac Township with our concerns and as a result, Whiteduck Park and the concerns of the BGL cottagers were on the agenda for The Town council meeting on November 26. Deputy Mayor Gerry Martin expressed our concerns to council, especially pertaining to cottage roads that will reside within the proposed park boundaries.
On December 7, one of the members of our group finally received a hard copy, via the mail, of the notice that should have been part of the initial notification process.
It is our contention that all cottagers on Big Gull Lake should be considered ‘stakeholders’. The ALC Intake Team has repeatedly stated their position that only the south shore cottagers whose property will be abutting/adjacent the proposed park need to be officially notified. We believe a Natural Environment Class Provincial Park is something that directly impacts all of us on Big Gull Lake.
Our group also sent out an email (linked here) from Vincent Alcaide to other BGL cottagers we have been able to find contact ‘info’ for. To date we have received well over one hundred signature permissions indicating support for our position. This email was originally sent out prior to being granted an extension to January 25 for submission.
On December 4, two other members of our group, Robert McIlveen and Nancy Brown had an hour long conversation with the ALC Chief Negotiator, Doug Carr. A summation of the questions asked and the answers from Mr. Carr can be found here.
On December 10, the original consultation submission deadline, Vincent Alcaide posted an updated letter outlining our progress and reaching out to more ‘stakeholders’ on the lake. We also posted a letter with suggestions for engagement for this ongoing discussion.
On December 11, as a follow up to the questions raised at the North Frontenac council meeting on November 26, Doug Carr and Jennifer Griffin, the senior negotiator for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, met virtually with North Frontenac Council and presented this series of slides that pointed out some other additions to Whiteduck subsequent to 2017.
We invite your thoughts and comments and if you would like to follow up with our group or know someone else who you think might as well, please contact:
We will add more information as it becomes available.