By Chad Ingram
Minden Hills councillors intend for the municipality to crack down on prohibited uses of a public access to Gull Lake at the end of Murdoch Road.
Issues at the site, including people cutting down trees, urinating on public property and having arguments with abutting landowners, have been ongoing during the past few years.
“Some or all of you, I’m sure, have received dozens of pieces of correspondence, communications from private adjacent landowners and the Gull Lake Cottagers’ Association with respect to Murdoch Road leading to Gull Lake,” Mayor Brent Devolin said to councillors during a June 10 online meeting. “There had been that what on in the wintertime that now seem to be going on all year long. And Murdoch Road isn’t just something in isolation.”
“Increasingly as we see growth and urbanization, there’s more and more people coming here that may not be sensitive to kind of historic norms, and I would say, courtesies, that historically we’ve had,” Devolin said. “We have persons coming onto public properties that are interfering with public rights to exercise and enjoy the property. And I think this is the thin edge of the wedge on a whole bunch of fronts. It’s not exclusive to Minden Hills. Certainly, I say when I talk to the heads of council in the rest of Haliburton County, it’s rearing its head all over here, and elsewhere.”
Devolin said it was an issue the township would need to deal with.
“We want people coming and doing things here and using public assets,” he continued,”but, the other side of that, is the incivility and the activities that go on. I mean, you know, cutting trees and using machinery to build a road on public property, individuals urinating and defecating on public lands in full public view, like, this has gone beyond the pale.”
Councillor Bob Carter said he knew of other situations with roads leading to water where real estate agents are suggesting to buyers those access points can be used as beach and boat launch areas.
“There’s one case, and it’s a treed bush that happens to be the road allowance,” Carter said. “So nobody’s getting a boat down there without cutting down some trees, and putting in some sort of a path or trail or whatever. And people are going to start building docks. So, I agree with you that we have to come up with something that will apply to Murdoch Road and others. This is a situation that is going to grow quickly over the next short while, like perhaps even this summer.”
Councillor Pam Sayne thanked Devolin for bringing the issue forward.
“Like Councillor Carter, this is not my only situation like this that I’m getting calls about,” Sayne said. “Sometimes, there are problems with people who are new to the area and just travelling through, and sometimes there are problems with behaviours that are not acceptable that are from longterm residents. So, it really isn’t saying one way or the other that it belongs to people from away or from here.”
Sayne said she’d like to see an increased co-ordinated effort between the township’s bylaw department and the OPP.
“If there are any trees taken down, and damage to property, I think those people should be in fact fined appropriately to make sure this doesn’t continue to happen,” she said.
“We need to deal with this, because this is an animal that’s growing, and I think is going to grow exponentially,” Devolin said. “If we wait too long, this will get away from us [in a way] that we’ll never be able to reel it back in, and I would argue we’re on the precipice of that happening [on Murdoch Road], and I can think of another one on Kashagawigamog.”
A staff report will come back to council in July.