The municipality of Port Hope is finally getting tough on people who snag fish, leave fish to rot on the riverbanks and generally create a mess on the municipal lands that abut the Ganaraska River. Good news right? not so fast.
The bad news is, the costs of enforcing the conservation laws, cleaning up the parks, providing toilets, etc adds up to $19,965 a year in costs to Port Hope taxpayers. Unfortunately for anglers, Port Hope is seeking to recoup those costs on the backs of responsible anglers by charging them a $40 access fee to fish from lands owned by Port Hope and the Ganaraska River Conservation Authority (which owns Sylvan Glen Park).We believe that Port Hope is only looking at one side of the ledger on this issue. Yes, there is a cost to maintain the Ganaraska River and its lands, but in return, the river attracts thousands of anglers, who in turn pump lots of tourist dollars into the Port Hope economy. A study done by the Credit River Valley Conservation Authority , for example, “estimates the value of recreational fishery in the Credit at $48 million. However, this is a conservative estimate.”
The Ganaraska River attracts even more anglers than the Credit River, so it’s probably safe to assume that “Ganny” anglers contribute at least $48 million to the Ontario economy and a fair share to the local Port Hope economy.
“Lake Ontario Management Unit (LOMU) estimated the Ganaraska River at 49,720 man hours fished, making it the top fished tributary on the north shore of Lake Ontario”
You would think a town sitting on a tourism goldmine like The Ganaraska River would be rolling out the red carpet for anglers. Instead Port Hope seeks to become only the second municipality in Ontario to hit anglers with a fee to fish from public lands (the first being tiny Essa township along the Nottawasaga River).
Hopefully Port Hope Council at its meeting on March 7, 2017 takes a look at the big picture. Recreational angling is big business that supports their local economy. They should see the $19,965 cost to maintain the river as an investment that brings big financial returns to their local economy. Impose a $40 access fee and anglers may just pack up their tackle in search of more welcoming fishing opportunities elsewhere.