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Pier fishing issues arrive at city hall

Fisherman are furious after being ticketed for fishing from the Oshawa pier, something the city has said is illegal.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

An angler, ticketed for doing what he loves at the Oshawa pier, took his concerns to city hall recently to implore council to change their ways as they are seriously hindering a social gathering place in one of Oshawa’s more vulnerable areas.

Mark Whiffen, an avid fisherman, appeared before council’s Community Services committee on March 1 to ask why, after more than 20 years of fishing at the Oshawa pier, that he’s only now being ticketed for casting a line.

“I kind of see it as a black mark against Oshawa,” he told council.

According to Whiffen, himself and two others were fishing on the Oshawa pier at the end of January when they received fines for $250.

“I was dumbfounded,” Whiffen said. “I don’t see why that would be a problem in Oshawa.”

As it stands, the Oshawa pier is closed and gated off during the winter months for safety reasons. However, according to Ron Diskey, the city’s commissioner of community services, due to an agreement with the Oshawa Port Authority, fishing is not allowed on the pier at all, regardless of the time of year.

For Councillor Doug Sanders, the safety issues were front of mind, noting that with rough waters, things could get dangerous on the pier.

“That’s always my concern, the safety,” he said. “That’s a dangerous situation that’s created.”

As for the safety concerns, Whiffen noted that in his 20 years of fishing at the pier, he’s never seen anyone injured.

“When it’s rough we don’t really fish there anyway,” he said.

Whiffen also noted the pier has become a community hub of sorts in Oshawa’a south end.

“It’s a social gathering place,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that come into the city and see this…it’s a bad mark against the city.”

The situation didn’t sit well with Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki either, who noted that staff should be ordered to work with the port authority to see whether any changes could be made, and to come back to council “as quickly as possible.”

“It’s a jewel for fisherman,” Pidwerbecki said of the pier.

As part of that report, Councillor Amy McQuaid-England, with support from Councillor John Neal, requested that statistical information related to the number of tickets handed out for fishing at the pier over the last 10 years to be included as well.

Diskey noted the report could potentially return to the April meeting of Community Services.