THUNDER BAY, ON --- February 14, 2011 ---- Attached is a letter sent to Minister Linda Jeffrey, Minister for the MNR.
For the last year we have been trying to resolve issues facing Remote Tourism.
1. Land Use Permit fee hikes of 700 %
2. Modernization of LUP classifications
3. Fair and humane policies surrounding surrendered LUP’s
1.* The Land Use Permits fee, ( the authority to use crown land) has been increased 700 % at a time when the world economy has been devastated by the worst recession in memory.
* A one year delay was granted but in spite of a worsening economy, the MNR would not consider any further assistance.
* In eight years from now, that same annual LUP increase of 700% ,will be further increased a whopping 50%!!! Plus - these same LUP’s will be converted to 30 yr. leases at the higher annual rate and will require surveys amounting up to $5000 ea.
The money for these increases simply does not exist.
Many operators with 10 camps today cannot even fill 25%. The operators that operate 20 plus camps must do so in order to protect the fishery, therefore they must fallow the lakes at least every other year. The blunt truth is: this money does not exist!
Business today in Tourism as a whole is at rock bottom and in the Remote Tourism industry, it has forced a majority of operators to seek secondary employment in order to feed their families and pay their bills.
Brutalizing the Remote Tourism industry at this time does not make any sense and with an eye to future, defies any proper business model.
2. There is one price for all Land Use Permit fees. That is - one size fits all. In other words, the fee for a 500 acre pond used for only two weeks of the year for hunting is treated the same as an LUP for a large lake of 20,000 acres that can be used for 18 weeks a year. The annual rental fee will be the same. The survey costs will be the same!! In our opinion this does not make any sense because they are: not the same.
With business down 50-60%, it will cost a small fortune for operators to hold onto their LUP’s just in case business does improve. Money that they don’t have.
3. The surrender policy is the tough one for folks who have their life savings tied up in the development of those LUP’s. The dilemma ..no business and no body to buy them. MNR’s policy is to surrender them but the devil is in the details.
- Revisit the fee increase and consider ways to achieve those results without bankrupting the industry.
- There is a critical need to modernize LUP classifications in order to make sense of the fee increase.
- Humanize the surrender procedure.
Minister Jeffery has remained silent and indifferent while the industry sinks. If she does care, she isn’t saying so.