Keeping our Muskoka Trails Open

Keeping our Muskoka trails open rests heavily on a dedicated group of volunteers.  In this post session we would like to thank Tony Molica and his team.  Tony’s work on this matter was so complicated I had to ask him what he did and to send me his process.

MLSTA new president, Fred Kelsey, made the statement “we need to get our land owners on board before we can proceed with anything else”. After a misunderstood season our team has stepped up to the plate.

Tony’s first thought about developing a Q&A about Bill 100 was initiated at the July 2 MLSTA meeting.  Past President Rene updated the board on the misunderstandings by landowners and others about this Bill at that meeting.

The board agreed that a Q&A was in order and made available to the landowners and further that the process and facts be free from any bias – that it be factual and not based on opinions.  Tony suggested that we attempt to contact the office of the Minister of Tourism and use their fact sheets if possible, which was agreed upon.

Tony then emailed the minister at that time, the Honorable Michael Couteau, requesting information on the Bill and for any public information.  He was hoping for Fact Sheets from his office, or Questions and Answers they may use in the house.  It took about 3 weeks for a response from the minister’s office but in the mean time he took it upon myself to look at the reports from The Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and other sources, on this Bill.

It is within the Legislative Assembly reports that Tony found facts about Bill 100 which were discussed in the House by then Minister Michael Couteau and other MPP’s, including Steve Clark and Norm Miller.  Tony did hear back from the Ministers Office late July and the new minister was the Honorable Eleanor McMahon, Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport.

Minister McMahon’s email to Tony explained that Sarah Jackson Policy Analyst with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport from her office would be our contact person and he did make contact with Sara whom was most helpful.  In the meantime, it was suggested by Rene that we have Mike Webb, from our club, assist us since he was very knowledgeable on Landowner issues.  As a result, we had our first “landowner committee” meeting on August 1 at Mike’s house.  The minutes of that meeting outline details.  It was decided at the July meeting that a Landowners Committee be established and that both Steve Elliot and Tony co-chair this committee.

Sara Jackson was very helpful in that she vetted our Q&A, kept it factual, and overall supported our efforts.  Additionally, she explained that her office was preparing a Fact Sheet on Bill 100 and would make sure that we received a copy of this public document as soon as it was available — which she did.

Mike was most helpful in this process.  He suggested that we meet with Norm Miller our MPP and set up the meeting.  He lead the meeting and was a successful meeting.  Rene’ Leenaars, Mike Webb, and Tony Molica met with Norm Miller on September 9.

It should be noted that Tony drafted the Q&A from facts from the Legislative Assembly, input from Sara Jackson, and most importantly from input from our Landowner Committee Members, which include Mike Webb.

Steve Elliott wordsmithed the document and made it look professional.

It should be noted that Rene Leenaars has been our guiding light through this process from beginning to end.

Myself (Bob Hogg) and Steve Elliott talked to Mr. Steve Clarke and The Honourable  Eleanor McMahon were at the OFSC annual AGM and discussed Bill 100 and forwarded the information to Tony.

Even with this work Rene’ is still working with landowners issues and designing new trails as required.

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