Local community calls on politicians to support conservation for Town Island
Updated: Dec 25, 2019
Local residents, cottagers and area youth camps establish Friends of Town Island to launch grassroots public awareness campaign
More than 4,000 concerned community members have already signed the online petition
KENORA, December 16, 2019 -- Local residents, cottagers and area youth camps have formed the Friends of Town Island group to lead a grassroots campaign opposing the development of Town Island on Ontario's Lake of the Woods. The association’s website encourages visitors to get informed, sign the online petition and share their concerns with Kenora politicians.
The campaign has generated more than 4,000 petition signatures and earned widespread interest from media and stakeholders including the Nature Conservancy of Canada which highlights its concerns in a letter supporting conservation. NCC's letter notes that the island “is unique in the sense that it is a large, mostly undeveloped island in an area of Lake of the Woods that is heavily developed” and that the island may “provide habitat for bald eagles, a variety of song birds and plant communities that are rare in this part of Ontario.” In its letter, NCC asks that the City consider conservation and indicates that it is willing to work with stakeholders to assist in the process.
“By developing Town Island, Kenora politicians are putting the interests of big business ahead of kids and the environment,” said Aaron London, spokesperson for the Friends of Town Island and former Chair of the BB Camp Board of Directors. “We are working hard to bring Kenora politicians to the negotiating table in order to find a commercially viable conservation solution for the City, the Friends of Town Island and the public who will all benefit from placing the land in Trust.”
“Protecting Lake of the Woods for future generations is everyone’s responsibility,” said Kenora resident David Nelson. “By opening up Town Island to development, Kenora City Council is jeopardizing the area. This lake has been such an important part of my family’s life for close to 100 years and it’s devastating that politicians are being so short-sighted by selling off an historic public asset that has served the community and area youth camps for development. The fact is that the City has had a conservation objective on Town Island for ten years and public support for that remains strong. We can help make that happen.”
“Area youth camps on Lake of the Woods including BB Camp and YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens play such an important role in connecting kids with their communities, the wilderness and the core values of caring, equality, inclusiveness, respect and responsibility,” said Kent Paterson, President and Chief Executive Officer, YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg. “We have been part of the Lake of the Woods community for more than 125 years and are proud of our history of service. Protecting the area from unchecked development is a critical concern for our community and we call on Kenora politicians to stop their plans for developing Town Island.”
Other testimonials from concerned members of the public can be viewed here.
About Friends of Town Island
The Friends of Town Island is a grassroots group of Kenora residents, cottagers, youth camps and concerned stakeholders working together to conserve Town Island on Ontario’s Lake of the Woods and keep it free from development for the benefit of the public. By bringing together diverse communities of nature lovers, environmentalists, wilderness enthusiasts and youth advocates, the group is working to raise awareness of the risks related to the City of Kenora’s recent Request for Proposals for development of the island and has launched a public awareness campaign featuring a website, online petition and a Facebook Group. For more information visit: www.townisland.ca.