New license required to access Walpole Island’s bays and channels

Walpole Island First Nation impliments pleasure craft licenses for non-members. (Photo courtesy of Walpole Island First Nation Council via Facebook).

Walpole Island First Nation (WIFN) is implementing the use of pleasure craft licenses for non-members, starting June 1.

Those who are not a member of Walpole Island but want to use the First Nation’s waterways on a pleasure craft will have to pay $100 for an annual license in order to do so.

Pleasure craft licenses can be purchased in-person at various locations, including the Walpole Island Governance Building on Tahgahoning Road, Chematogen Camp, Willow Beach Post, Gary’s Taxidermy & Tanning, and Bkejwanong Gas & Convenience. Licenses can also be obtained by calling (519) 627-1481 or emailing finance@wifn.org.

WIFN Chief Executive Officer James Jenkins said the goal behind the new license is to mitigate speeding in area waterways and protect sensitive ecological areas. Jenkins said concerns about pleasure crafts anchoring in sensitive areas were first brought to council over a year ago.

“We hired some internal consultants to do a field study of areas to make recommendations about sensitive areas and we’ve also implemented plans to increase the enforcement within the waterways,” he said. “So in order to do that, we’ve implemented a pleasure craft license fee to help offset the cost of enforcement.”

Jenkins clarified that non-members with a valid fishing license who anchor their vessels for the purpose of fishing will not require a pleasure craft license as well, nor will people who are just passing through.

“At this time, if a person is navigating in their pleasure craft through the St. Clair River or the Snye and isn’t [beaching] or anchoring, they do not require a pleasure craft license in order to do that,” he said.

Jenkins said non-members without a valid pleasure craft license who are anchored will be escorted out of the area.

At this time, pleasure crafts from the U.S. are not allowed to access Walpole Island’s bays or channels due to border restrictions. Americans will be required to obtain WIFN pleasure craft licenses once restrictions are lifted.

-With files from Melanie Irwin