By G, Chambers, SFBCA Vice Chairman
A couple of years ago, a fellow SFBCA member and I were fishing a section of the Ganny on opening day. Within a few minutes of wetting our lines, we had a guy on our tails taking photos of us and yelling that he was going to call the cops and have us charged with trespassing.
Were we trespassing ? I doubt it since we were wading in a public body of water at the time. Not willing to risk a $100 fine for trespassing though, we packed up our rods and left for friendlier waters
ONLY PROPERTY OWNER OR HIS AGENT CAN GIVE NOTICE OF TRESPASS:
There’s been times when I’ve been accused of trespassing even though I have permission from the private property owner or I know the lands are public.
Unfortunately, it seems some people just don’t like anglers around (often for good reason) and are willing to lie just to get us to move on. Fortunately, anglers and hunters in Ontario are protected from unauthorized threats of trespass under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation (1997)
13. Notice without authority
Section 13 (2) A person shall not purport to give notice that entry to premises is prohibited for the purpose of hunting or fishing or that hunting or fishing is prohibited on premises unless the person has authority to give the notice. 1997, c. 41, s. 13.
For the most part signs don’t lie. If a property is posted, I accept that the signs were legitimately placed there by the owner or his agent and I follow whatever restriction he has imposed (i.e. No Trespassing, Access with some exceptions, etc.).
Unfortunately some people do lie, especially if they don’t want anglers around. If someone claims that I’m trespassing and must leave, I politely ask,”Are you the owner or his agent?” If they answer “Yes,” I politely ask for permission to stay and fish.
If they Answer “No, I’m not the owner”, I politely ask if they know who the owner is so I can talk to him after I finish fishing. If they get testy, I remind them that it’s an offence to give notice of trespass without authority.
RESPECT PROPERTY RIGHTS & ANGLERS’ RIGHTS
Trespassing is a violation of someone’s property rights and is punishable by a set fine of $100. Likewise, falsely claiming property rights and accusing others of trespassing is a violation of Section 13 (2) of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and is punishable by a set fine of $150…which suggests accusing someone of trespassing when you don’t have the authority to do so, is a more serious offence than the actual act of trespassing itself. Go Figure.
COMMON TRESPASS NOTICES:
- Posted “No Trespassing”
The property owner or his agent can post “No Trespassing” signs and/or paint red dots on trees, posts, etc. at the main access points to the property. by installing these visual markers, the property owner has notified you that you are not permitted on his property for any reason.*NOTE: Even if a property is posted “No Trespassing” Section 3.(2) the Trespass to Property Act (1990) allows you to enter the property for the purposes of accessing the main door of the dwelling. Basically you wouldn’t be trespassing if you walked to the front door of a home on posted property and tried to ask for permission to fish. You may not get permission to fish, but you can’t be arrested for trying to do so.
- Posted with Exceptions:
A property owner may be okay with some activities on their land but not others. For example, if a property is posted “NO HUNTING” you would be entitled to access the property for all other lawful activities (Fishing, hiking, etc.) except hunting.
A yellow dot painted at main access points is also used to indicate that the property has some “No Trespassing” exceptions. If you only see a yellow dot, but no signage, you should contact the property owner (i.e. knock on his door) to find out what the exceptions are before proceeding.
- Verbal Notification:
If a property is not posted, you are permitted to access it to undertake any lawful activity. If the property owner subsequently decides he does not want you on his property he or his agent must give you verbal notice to leave. Once this verbal notice is given, you must leave.
Note: Some properties do not have to be posted to prohibit trespassing. These include:
- Garden, fields or any other land under cultivation
- Anywhere with trees planted that average less than 2 meters in height
- Any fenced-in area