Council vows action on seagulls three years after complaints
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | September 6, 2018
Although Minden Hills councillors received a staff report more than two years ago about solutions to a seagull problem at Mountain Lake, it wasn’t until ratepayers packed last week’s meeting that they vowed concrete action.
Cottager Kym Hanson and resident George Steeves complained to council during the Aug. 30 meeting, while another resident, Laurie Mitchell, sent a letter.
In a lengthy presentation, Hanson, who brought her two young daughters with her, talked about the impact hundreds of seagulls have had on their enjoyment of their cottage since 2014. She told councillors she’s a mother looking out for the health of her children and the lake. But she’s also worried about property damage and quality of life. She said there are the seagulls themselves, but also their feces and feathers and the garbage they carry from the nearby Scotchline landfill that ends up on the shore and in the water.
“It’s ruining our right to enjoy our waterfront property,” she said. She talked about how her family drives up from Toronto for sought-after relaxing weekends, only to have to spend hours cleaning up their property, so, “we are more anxious and stressed out than before we arrive.”
She also said that ratepayers had been asking the municipality for help since 2015 and that nothing had been done, with the problem only getting worse. She said she’d personally sent 17 e-mails and the Mountain Lake Property Owners Association first approached council in 2015. “We shouldn’t have to ask this many times.” She showed a comprehensive power point presentation, packed with research on the impact of seagulls on lake and human health, showing a photo of one of her daughters covered in swimmer’s itch.
There were photos of property damage and the seagull deterrents people are using on the lake. She also included what other municipalities are doing, including using predator birds at landfills. She said she’d personally acquired a free permit that allows her to shoot to kill, or scare. “I don’t intend to kill, but I’m at my wit’s end.” Environmental and property operations manager, Ivan Ingram, tabled his first report on June 9, 2016, with information and possible solutions to the seagull population at Scotchline. It included things such as sound blasting, ultra-sonic sound, falconly and drones.
Coun. Pam Sayne told Hanson her emails and calls had not gone unnoticed. She said staff had brought the issue to council’s attention over the past couple of years. She added that the township had been working on the problen, including a task force, and that covered bins are now at the landfill just waiting to be installed. Mayor Brent Devolin added the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change had approved a vector and vermin plan for the landfill, “up to, and including culling” of seagulls. He said a report would come to council’s Sept. 13 meeting for immediate action.
“This isn’t a very proud day for me but the buck stops here,” he told the audience. Coun. Jeanne Anthon said the buck stopped with all of council for its lack of success on the seagull issue. Coun. Jean Neville said she was also upset and embarrassed. She told Hanson she couldn’t imagine the stress she must be enduring. “At this point, we have got to cull the birds and I would totally support that,” Neville said.
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.