Brian Beattie

Duffy’s plans spur petition

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A group from the AMA Sportsmen Association have made it clear – they want a fishing wharf, marina and boat ramp at the site of the former Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn.

The Town of Amherstburg, owners of the property, seem open to keeping at least two of those amenities.

Brian Beattie and Kevin Sprague from the AMA Sportsmen Association appeared before town council Monday night to request input into the design process of the site and to ensure the wharf, marina and boat ramp were included.

Beattie believed more input and consideration was needed. He recalled an amphitheatre being built just south of the Duffy’s lands near the Caldwell Towers area years ago and “residents complained so much they had to tear it down.”

Sprague said he gathered 558 signatures on a petition that states “that a boat launch with an appropriate number of parking spaces for vehicles with boat trailers, a wharf and lookout with sufficient space that can be used for shoreline fishing and transient marina slips being incorporated into the final design of the Duffy’s lands.”

The town’s decision to purchase the Duffy’s site was an “awesome” one, Sprague believed.

“It’s a large piece of valuable property in the downtown core with huge potential that will be a popular future public asset,” he said. “Properties like this don’t come around very often and may never come around again anywhere even close to the downtown core.”

The majority of residents he spoke with said they want a boat launch, wharf for shoreline fishing and a small marina, stated Sprague. He said more feedback is needed and that the town’s “Talk the Burg” website, an online questionnaire and a public consultation with 25 people in attendance “is not properly providing anywhere close to an accurate representation of what the community needs and wants.”

“Amherstburg is the only municipality in Essex County with the exception of Tecumseh that has no public boat launch,” he said. “We have a few privately-owned boat launches but what happens when these private boat launches no longer exist, close or are sold for development or other uses? This could easily occur and there is zero guarantee that this won’t become a future reality. Residents who require a boat launch shouldn’t be force to drive to another municipality to launch a boat when our town is surrounded by water. Amherstburg needs an insurance policy to prevent this from ever becoming a reality.”

Sprague added that Amherstburg “has by far” the smallest public place for shoreline fishing in Essex County at “an embarrassing 53-foot long space. It’s sometimes so overcrowded that tourists drive for hours to fish in Amherstburg and leave with tickets because they are fishing outside of the permitted area. When parents, grandparents and children of our town have 53-feet of overcrowded and completely insufficient area to fish from, that’s wrong and the town’s fault for not addressing this problem many years ago.”

Residents don’t want the amphitheatre on the Duffy’s site, he added, and that a parking lot should be built on the site that could be used year-round. He acknowledged that it’s not as nice as trees or grass, but parking could be used by residents and tourists alike. He said the amphitheatre doesn’t have the support the town thinks it does.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the wharf and marina are still part of the concept plan with the boat launch being the only thing in question.

“The issue is really the boat launch,” agreed CAO John Miceli. “The question is what do we do with parking for the boat launch?”

Councillor Rick Fryer said he agreed with the concept for Duffy’s but believed there should still be a boat launch at the site.

“The town should look at other places to park boat trailers and vehicles,” he said, even floating the idea of a valet service where someone could assist boaters by driving their trailers to a different site for them.

Fryer said he is hearing yes to a festival area at the site but no to an amphitheatre. He added there needs to be more room for people to fish.

“I’m a firm supporter of getting fisherman downtown,” he said.

DiCarlo said the Duffy’s project is currently in the environmental assessment stage and that funding will have to be secured for the project since there is a desire not to have it totally funded by the taxpayer. Optimistically, he hoped for shovels to be in the ground early next year.

The mayor said he did hear from people who signed the petition and believed there are some misconceptions. He said some he talked to thought a marina or boat ramp was being sacrificed for an amphitheatre and that he explained to them that all are still in the concept.

“The only thing left is the boat ramp,” he said.

Overall, DiCarlo said the Duffy’s concept has been “well received” and that people are anxious to see it get started. He said there will be future opportunities for people to comment on the project.

AMA Sportsmen Association staying busy this summer

 

The archery program and the air rifle program have both wrapped up for the summer. This year’s season went very well with lots of shooters each week. The AMA Sportsmen Club thanks the kids and adults who shot this year.

A special thank you to the parents and grandparents who brought the kids to the club each week.

On the last night of air rifle, the 17 Scouts and the 2nd Kingsville Boys Scouts joined us for some gun handling and shooting instruction. The archery season ended in fun, as they shot at balloons instead of just paper targets. Both of these programs will resume in October. Watch this paper or the AMA Sportsmen Association website for dates and times.

The AMA Sportsmen Association would like to thank all the members that helped and supported these programs.

The AMA Sportsmen hosted the first of two qualifiers for young archers May 5 wishing to compete in this year’s Ontario Summer Games in London. There were five competitors, each shooting 144 arrows at a target 50 metres away. This is a hard task and takes a lot of stamina. These young competitors did a great job.

The second qualifier is also at the Sportsmen Club June 9 at 10 a.m. Anyone interested in archery should come out and watch. You will be impressed.

The third archery 3-D shoot of the year was held May 6 with 33 shooters out having a little fun playing and trying to shoot in the water and mud. Some said it was just like hunting. The next shoot is Aug. 19 with a 9 a.m. start.

The AMA Sportsmen are hosting the annual Unifor fishing tournament May 20. See postings at your local Unifor hall for times and dates.

The AMA Longbeards, our local chapter of the Canadian Wild Turkey Federation, held its first banquet in February. This event went very well and raised some money to start our mandate to introduce kids and women to the sport of hunting, the conservation of nature and providing habitat for nature. Again, watch this paper or the AMA Sportsmen Association website for more details.

 

The AMA Sportsmen Association’s 35th annual walleye tournament starts June 22 and runs to June 30 with the wrap-up party being July 1. Tickets are sold out. Good luck to all the fishermen, ladies and kids who bought a ticket and plan to fish in this tournament. Also, good luck to the ones who just bought a ticket. See you at the wrap-up party.

The sign-up sheets for the annual Bob Meloche Kids Fishing Derby on Father’s Day (June 17) are at the AMA Sportsmen Club and Canadian Tire Amherstburg. This event is for all kids 12 and under. Get signed up before June 10 and join in on this free event.

The seasonal summer craft sale with 30 local vendors displaying and selling their crafts is on June 23 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Every Saturday, lunch is available at the club from 12-2 p.m. Thursdays starting at noon. The club is open for swapping stories and playing euchre.

For anyone planning an event, the club is accepting bookings.

With these events, there is something for everyone this summer at the AMA Sportsmen Association. Visit the AMA Sportsmen Association at 468 Lowes Side Road. If anyone has questions about the club, call us at 519-736-5706. People can leave a message, and someone will return your call.

People can also visit us on Facebook or check out the website at www.amasportsmen.com.

Hope to see you there!

 

—Submitted by Brian Beattie

“Big Buck Sunday” held at AMA Sportsmen Association

 

By Jonathan Martin

 

A long-standing AMA Sportsmen Association tradition has notched another year in the ol’ belt.

Big Buck Sunday has been giving local hunters the chance to get their racks measured for around two decades, according to club member Brian Beattie.

This year, the antlers were measured by Jim Branch, a Foundation for the Recognition of Ontario Wildlife official.  He said the day saw antlers that scored in the 130s and 140s.  Those who brought in antlers were given the chance to submit their score to the periodically-released Big Game Records of Ontario book.

Foundation for the Recognition of Ontario Wildlife (FROW) official Jim Branch measures a pair of antlers at AMA Sportsmen Association’s annual Big Buck Sunday event. Local hunters had a chance to get their racks scored last Sunday.

Big Buck Sunday also hosted vendors, whose products ranged from crossbows to scones.  Beattie said AMA had hosted a craft show the day before, so a few of those involved stayed behind for a second day.  There were oil candles, animal pelts, woodcarvings and more.  Even a charity showed up: Archers Against Cancer, which holds archery events to raise funds that offset the costs associated with cancer treatment.

Most archers kept to the outdoors, though.  The first 3D shoot of the year was held just across the road.  Thirty three-dimensional targets, shaped like animals, were erected with scores attached to different body parts: 10 for the heart, eight for the lungs, five for the body and zero for a miss.  The next 3D shoot will be held April 8.

“I like the 3D shoots because what it’s really about is getting a few people together to go out and have a few laughs,” Beattie said.

Children and parents “go batty” at AMA Sportsmen Association

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Children, parents and grandparents went a little “batty” at the AMA Sportsmen Association last Saturday morning.

The club had about 50 bat boxes constructed with children and their parents and grandparents coming out to help build them. It was similar to last month’s event where 40 wood duck boxes were built.

Brian Beattie, AMA Sportsmen Association member and member of the club’s conservation committee, said the original plan called for 40 bat boxes to be constructed but the addition of about 10 Cubs and Scouts from 2nd Amherstburg Scouting saw the number increased by ten.

Local youth took part in the AMA Sportsmen Association’s bat box building day last Saturday morning.
A total of 50 bat boxes were constructed.

“That completes our conservation projects for the year,” said Beattie, noting nearly $2,000 was spent for the wood duck box and bat box projects.

The bat boxes are smaller than wood duck boxes, require little maintenance and can be installed in residential areas as long as they are at least ten-feet off the ground, Beattie stated. He added the plans currently are for more bat boxes to be built next year and to reduce the number of wood duck boxes to 30.

“I’d like to do 30 of these (bat boxes) and 30 more for screech owls,” he said.

Beattie said it was nice to welcome 2nd Amherstburg Scouting as well. He said he had to buy extra wood for the extra boxes, but the club was pleased to partner with another group.

Cameryn Carmack, Zach Kollin and Cassidy Carmack work on a bat box last Saturday morning.

There are a lot of misconceptions about bats, Beattie stated, pointing out there are six species of bats in Essex County. The most common species is the big brown bat and the loss of trees means a loss of habitat for them. One big brown bat can eat as many as 3,000 to 7,000 mosquitoes per night, he said.

Some bats also use the bat boxes to hibernate in winter and it is advised the boxes be placed in the sun, so bats can feel the warmth.

Hailey Laliberte drills a screw into her bat box. A total of 50 bat boxes were constructed.

Lisa Tomac, scouter with 2nd Amherstburg Scouting, said reading a previous article in the River Town Times allowed them to know the event was happening and they decided to get involved.

“Who doesn’t like to use a drill?” she joked.

It was an optional event for the Cubs and Scouts, she added, with those who did turn out being able to pick up a new skill. Tomac added they wear their uniforms to such outings to show that 2nd Amherstburg Scouting is active in the community.

 

Local children helping to boost wood duck population

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Members of the AMA Sportsmen Association are reporting seeing evidence there is a growing number of wood ducks in the area and local children have helped with that.

The club’s annual wood duck box building day was held last Saturday morning with about 41 children along with their parents and grandparents turning out to build 40 boxes. The number of children was about the same as it was in 2017.

Local children helped to build wood duck boxes last Saturday at the AMA Sportsmen Association. Most of the 41 children who attended show their boxes.

“They range anywhere from six months to 16-years-old,” said Brian Beattie, AMA Sportsmen Association member and also a member of the club’s conservation committee.

Beattie pointed out that 14 grandfathers gathered a few days before to prepare for the assembly day.

“We cut out all of the wood for the boxes,” commented Beattie. “It was like a kit for them to put together.”

The wood duck boxes were taken home by some children with others leaving them at the club so that members could put them up around the community. Beattie said some wood duck boxes on the AMA Sportsmen Association property need replacing while others will be taken to local marshlands.

Nash and George Garant work together to create one of the 40 wood duck boxes that were built at the AMA Sportsmen Association last weekend.

“They last about ten years, then they have to be replaced,” he said.

Beattie added there is a noticeable difference in the wood duck population, pointing out that they like to nest in trees that are rotting out or in the boxes. The boxes are deep so that raccoons can’t reach in and get at the eggs with metal plates being screwed on near the box openings to further deter raccoons.

Those who maintain the wood duck boxes, including those who installed them in marshlands, report cleaning out egg shells every year, a sign that more and more wood ducks are hatching and going into the wild.

Justine Varney helps daughter Rylee construct their wood duck box.

The AMA Sportsmen Association is planning a similar event March 3, only with bat boxes. The bat box assembly day will also start at 10 a.m. with Beattie explaining that the bat boxes are smaller and flatter than a wood duck box. There are also more places bat boxes can be installed, he added, noting that bats are good because they eat mosquitoes.

The club’s conservation committee gets $2,000 per year, Beattie said, with plans for next year calling for wood duck box construction as well as boxes for screech owls.