By Chad Ingram
The Haliburton Fish Hatchery, operated by the Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association, is facing some financially tight times amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID [pandemic] has stopped us from our fundraising activities,” association president Eric Christensen told the Times. Chief among those activities are the association’s fundraising dinners, including its popular wild game dinner, which have been cancelled this year. Each dinner typically raises between $5,000 and $10,000. The wild game dinner that was initially scheduled for spring had been postponed until the fall, and has now been cancelled completely, with the association selling off the wild game meat it had purchased for the event.
“There’s been basically no additional funding support from the provincial government,” Christensen said, explaining the hatchery doesn’t meet the criteria for any of the existing COVID-19-related government assistance programs. “So we’re basically on our own.”
The pandemic has also meant that the hatchery this year will not be stocking Haliburton Gold, a species of lake trout found in only a few lakes in Haliburton County and designated as a heritage species. Normally, Haliburton Gold eggs are harvested with the assistance of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the fish maturing inside the hatchery.
“The MNR are not going out in the field at all,” Christensen said. “So that killed our egg harvest of Haliburton Gold this fall.”
As Christensen explained, the ministry is still sending 9,000 regular lake trout eggs to the hatchery. “So we will still have fish in the hatchery to feed,” he said.
However, the receiving of those eggs has been put on hold, as the association deals with aging, problematic pumps at the hatchery. There are three wells on the property, each of which has a pump. The pumps are 30 years old. One has broken and is being replaced, and at least a second is on the fritz. Each pump will cost about $2,600 to replace.
“The only [regular] fundraiser we have going right now is Catch the Ace,” Christensen said. With a county resident winning Catch the Ace last week, it will likely be a couple of weeks before a new lottery starts up, he said.
The association is also doing a raffle for a $1,000 cash prize, the winner of which will be drawn during the annual general meeting on Nov. 22. Tickets can be purchased at Outdoors Plus and Canoe FM in Haliburton Village or at the hatchery at 6712 County Road 1, which is currently open reduced hours, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. “We’ve cut back everything because of financial constraints,” Christensen said.
Raffle tickets can also be purchased for home delivery by calling association member Tim LaRiviere at 705-457-1971 or emailing email@example.com.