Grey-Bruce conservation groups praised by MNRF Minister

Stu Paterson, The Wiarton Echo     Published on: August 30, 2018 | Last Updated: August 30, 2018 6:25 PM EDT

Ontario’s new Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry, Jeff Yurek, MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, had high praise for volunteer clubs that stock fish at a visit to Bruce Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association’s clubhouse on Aug. 24.

During his visit, Yurek promised to “transform” his ministry so it will be more responsive and engaged with local conservation club members.

Yurek has only been Minister of Natural Resources & Forestry for a few weeks. He previously served as the Conservative Party critic of the MNRF. Now as Minister, he was on the job in Grey-Bruce last Friday, being shown around by Bill Walker, MPP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. The two visited fish hatcheries, met with conservation groups and the Minister officially opened the 31st annual Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular fishing derby, which runs until September 1.

At the Wiarton-based Bruce Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association (BPSA) hatchery, Yurek congratulated the club for its 40 years of fish stocking and stream rehabilitation projects. As the Minister wrapped up his two-hour visit he encouraged club members to “keep up the good work.”

“You folks are doing great things,” he said.

Since the sixties BPSA has stocked more than 4-million rainbow and brown trout in Georgian Bay. The volunteer club is one of 40 hatcheries in the Ontario Community Hatchery Program.

Yurek also promised to make the MNRF easier to deal for club members.

“We will be better at consulting with your volunteer clubs. We hope to offer better customer service including streamlining the way we deal with conservation and sporting groups such as BPSA, the Lake Huron Fishing Club and the Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association,” he said. These organizations have a long history of stocking to support local recreational fisheries.

The Minister met with BPSA fish committee members to discuss ways to improve the survival rate of stocked fish, cut red tape for community hatchery operators by streamlining the hatchery licencing process, and other topics.

Jim Martell, President of BPSA, thanked Yurek for visiting the Wiarton club. Martell called the Minister’s approach “refreshing and encouraging for our club, which looks forward to an era of co-operation and positivity as we continue to work on our conservation projects.”

After Yurek and Walker visited BPSA, Walker issued a news release reflecting on the new Minister’s visit.

Local constituents were very pleased Yurek chose Bruce and Grey for his first official ministerial visit, Walker said.

“This was an opportunity to connect and allow Minister Yurek to see first-hand how important recreational fishing is in our area, especially the positive economic impact,” Walker said.

In addition to visiting BPSA, Yurek also met with members of the Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association, Quality Deer Management Association, Hepworth Anglers Club, and Outdoor Adventures, Walker’s news release said.