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Let them fish

Cartoon by George Longley

 

There are a few guarantees during the summer months at the Oshawa waterfront. You’re guaranteed to see families enjoying Lakeview Park. You’re guaranteed to see some kids running in the sand. And you’re most certainly guaranteed to see people fishing from the Oshawa pier.

However, one of those things is apparently illegal.

According to an old agreement between the City of Oshawa and the Oshawa Port Authority, fishing off the pier isn’t allowed.

It may come as a surprise to many, based off the sheer numbers of people you see casting a line from that spot during the summer months. However, until recently, the legalities around the pier remained back of mind, or perhaps ignored. That was until a trio of fisherman were fined $250 a piece for fishing off the pier earlier this year.

Now, the pier is closed and gated off during the winter months, so the fact that the fisherman perhaps had to find another way around is enough reason for bylaw officers to take issue with them on the pier. Councillors also pointed to the safety concerns and icy conditions on the pier during rough winter months. However, the anglers noted they don’t fish when the waters are rough.

With that said, it doesn’t preclude the fact that these fisherman have a decent point.

The fact that fishing is illegal from the pier is absolutely ridiculous.

Why ban such a harmless activity? One that not only draws people to the Oshawa waterfront, but also contributes to the overall image of a vibrant lakefront, and thereby maybe, just maybe, encouraging people to return for a second visit.

And with all the trouble Oshawa is having with any sort of investment sticking around for a public marina at the waterfront, one would think a little bit of fishing would be the least of their concerns.

The recent tickets are made even more frustrating for these fisherman, and perhaps more confusing based on the fact that it seems Oshawa bylaw is only enforcing these laws when they, at best, get complaints about fishermen or, at worst, simply when they feel like it.

It should not only become a priority for this council and city staff to eliminate this nonsensical rule, but also to ensure they don’t leave themselves open to any lingering liabilities in terms of their bylaws, because it begs the question, how legally binding is a law that is only enforced some of the time?