Environment Minister Peter Kent has slammed the door on new leases for commercial fishermen in Prince Edward County and
says his federal department has a duty to keep commercial enterprises off crown parkland.
In a letter dated Monday, March 11 and addressed to Mayor of Prince Edward County Peter Mertens, Kent reinforced his department's
decision to dismantle more than 200 years of commercial fishing heritage at Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area.
The minister states although commercial use of national wildlife area is “not ordinarily” permitted under the
Wildlife Area Regulations of the Canada Wildlife Act, in 1981 the agency entered into 10 lease agreements for 21 lots at Point
Traverse to “minimize” any undue hardship to commercial fishermen like Tim McCormack who were using the site at
“The leases were issued for the sole purpose of permitting the land-based activities normally associated with commercial
fishing enterprise, including the construction of temporary structures,” wrote Kent.
Since 1981, continued Kent, many of those leases at Point Traverse harbour have been terminated “either” by
the agency or “at the request of the lessee.”
“No new leases are being considered in the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area,” said Kent.
McCormack, who purchased Parcel 15's commercial fishing licence from Dorothy Aman — the original leaseholder —
in 2011 was told in a letter sent by Environment Canada last month his buildings were to be removed in March as lease transfers
from existing lessees to non-family third parties “are not being approved in order to help preserve this important wildlife
area,” noted Kent.
“The only reason the lease was terminated was because EC would not transfer the lease to me,” said McCormack
“And the property they demolished this week was mine. EC is telling Canadians that 200 years of cultural heritage
means nothing to them. We need to remind Mr. Kent's constituents how he allowed this to happen. If he thinks it's over, well
The minister claims his department has taken a “consistent and transparent” approach.
“And Environment Canada has accommodated the lessees and their direct heirs with respect to phasing out the leaseholds
in this important national wildlife area,” added Kent.
“This (removing McCormack's property from Parcel 15) supports the department's mandate and the national wildlife
area's objective of protecting and conserving wildlife and their habitat.”
Councilor Barb Proctor (Ward 9, South Marysburgh), who presented the resolution before Prince Edward council last week
– councilors voted unanimously on the document – is “astonished” Kent did not respond to Mertens before
demolition took place Monday.
“We are going to try to get a hold of the ministry through Daryl Kramp (MP in Prince Edward-Hastings) to initiate
some conversation with the minister (Kent) before further demolition starts down there,” she said.
Kramp, who voiced his “deep” disagreement on Environment Canada's approach with Kent last month, could not
be reached for comments as he is currently in China and expected to return to his Ottawa office Monday.