The closure of the green space, trails and parklands that border the Ganaraska River has received a great deal of attention from the community. Council would like to provide the community with some additional background information as to how they arrived at the decision to close these areas.

It is well known that the opening of the Trout fishing season is an incredibly popular event, attracting hundreds of anglers from all over the Province and beyond to Port Hope to enjoy fishing along the River. The Ganaraska River is known as the most fished tributary on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

Throughout March and April, Council and staff have received dozens of emails a day from tourists inquiring about locations to fish on the River during the opening of the season. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, many community members have contacted Council with concerns about the real potential for a large influx of visitors to our community. In this case, the risk of community transmission of the virus would be greatly increased, with potential gathering of crowds and challenges associated with maintaining physical distancing requirements.

As such, at the April 7, 2020 Council meeting, while considering the impacts of COVID-19 on the community, Members of Council authorized a request to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to consider postponing or cancelling the upcoming opening of the trout fishing season on April 25.

Unfortunately, the Municipality did not receive a response from the Ministry, and the trout fishing season will open this coming weekend. Restricting access to the Ganaraska River was not Council’s ideal scenario, nor first choice for the community.

The Municipality does not have the ability to restrict or prohibit fishing, as this is regulated by the Province, however, it does have the ability to restrict access to Municipal properties. After consultation with the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA), it was determined that the best way to limit the number of group gatherings along the River is to restrict all access to Municipal and GRCA properties in this area. Unfortunately, these properties include our trail network. In order to enact, the defined properties had to be included. These areas are closed from April 22 until May 12.

Given all of the other restrictions and closures in our community, this closure is understandably difficult; the fencing and barricades are unsightly, and it is certainly disrupting routines. However, it was necessary to discourage non-essential travel to our Municipality.

It should be noted that other trails, including the waterfront trail and the Monkey Mountain trail network, as well as other residential parks remain open for passive use by all. Additionally, the Municipality boasts over 65 kilometres of sidewalk in the urban area, which remain open for public use.

Municipal Council appreciates the concerns expressed by our residents. The health and wellbeing of our community is our top priority.