Tag: collingwood

Is Town of Collingwood Council and Residents Effective in Dealing with Coyotes in Collingwood? Summary of Challenges.

How well do residents impact policy decisions in Collingwood? What is the role of our elected officials – Collingwood Council? Municipal voting turnout is low and ongoing public oversight is even lower. Collingwood Staff run the Town of Collingwood and Collingwood Staff make recommendations to Council for approval to manage Collingwood.

In general; residents are not engaged in Town of Collingwood affairs and when they try to get engaged the municipal system frustrates and suppresses many efforts. In the case of coyote concerns – we face common challenges of being heard and taking action on behalf of residents but public safety warrants our effort.

An unfortunate case in point is that coyotes are roaming at large in Collingwood – killing pets, threatening residents and putting our streets, public parks and our yards at an unacceptable safety level. Of those residents who are aware of the coyote issue and the risks/threats from coyotes; what should they do beyond the odd conversation we have within our families and neighbors? Staff of Collingwood and Town Council have been notified and are not responding seriously to this issue and continue to allow coyotes to roam at large in Collingwood while attempting to educate residents to coexist and accept coyotes in Collingwood (often blaming residents for offering a source of food for coyotes – including pets)- posting signs to be aware of coyotes in the area and how to respond but with a confusing message – why should we be aware of coyotes – is there a danger and if so what is the danger – the few signs that exist imply danger. The Town website is helpful but not the appropriate or effective solution. Government resources fail to disclose the risk related to coyotes – the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) admits coyotes commonly attack small dogs. General consensuses by government sources is that it is unlikely coyotes will attack people – but there are cases of  coyote attacks and killing pets and people – the more we dig the more cases we find  while the government assures us it is unlikely.

It appears that in the mind of the Collingwood government that coyotes are not at a threat level that requires their removal – is it not the residents who should make this determination? The Collingwood government’s mandate is to serve the people – while other government agencies such as MNRF and Coyote Watch Canada are mandated to protect coyotes. The Collingwood residents should have the say in the level of  their safety in Collingwood and this should not be compromised by conflicting interests of government agencies – who should not have jurisdiction in this matter.

Are residents engaged in this issue to engage Town Council to take action? Is Council only as effective as residents in uncovering this problem? How many pets have gone missing and have been killed – the policy makers control this information if it exists? Will the concerns and risks continue until a child is attacked and possibility killed by a coyote for the media to report this tragedy and create awareness of this issue – to engage enough people for the Town of Collingwood to take action. How many complaints are necessary for action to be taken in a city of over 20,000? (I have filed a Freedom of Information Request to see what the level of complaints is and how they have been dismissed by the Town of Collingwood – at a cost of over $300.00) Who is responsible for understanding this issue and taking action – the Town of Collingwood does not deal with wildlife – so why do we have by-laws in anticipation of issues coyotes have created – animal control and Collingwood Firearms bylaw which deals with animals roaming at large, noise issues from animals, prohibited species such as all canids (coyotes), nuisance and animals that threaten inhabitants? The laws are in place to act. Why is there a failure to act.

There does not appear to be a Collingwood staff member to oversee this issue. The official position is ” Town of Collingwood does not manage wildlife”. The OPP has rejected service calls to date and has recently announced that they will respond if there is “an immediate threat to public safely”. The OPP is under service contract from the Town of Collingwood. Therefore, the Town of Collingwood is responsible for safety in Collingwood (which would include safety issues from wildlife). If the Town of Collingwood deems coyotes roaming at large to be  an immediate threat to public safety then the OPP must act and remove coyotes from Collingwood. Should residents have any say in what an immediate threat to public safety is? I think coyotes meet this threshold and should be removed from Collingwood.

The OPP does not trap coyotes and are reluctant to shoot coyotes in public or private areas. The OPP is not effective in dealing with coyotes. If there is an attack on a person; the response time would be too late. The action would potentialyl be to look for the “problem coyote” from the many in Collingwood and then shoot it or have it trapped by a trapper.  This has been the case in other communities in which coyotes have attacked residents – adults and children.

The cost of live trapping and removing coyotes from Collingwood is  several thousand dollars annually – assuming there are approximately 12 coyotes currently and others return annually. The OPP Police budget in Collingwood is about $5,063,4100.00 for safety in Collingwood – as per the current OPP Police Services Agreement.

How can the Town of Collingwood Council, OPP and Staff not justify the minimal cost of removing coyotes from Collingwood. This is an acceptable cost to protect our streets, parks, public areas and private yards from wild unpredictable animals who are killing our pets, putting our small children at risk while coyotes are openly hunted legally outside of Collingwood to control the excess population of coyotes.  I even volunteered to pay this initially to avoid delays in possible appropriation of funds processes and delays.

Do we continue to go in circles?

Residents are hiring a trapper to begin to deal with the coyote issue in the Georgian Manor Drive area – it can be done and should be done by the Town of Collingwood in other areas of Collingwood.

What do we do as residents?

  1. We have to find a way to put pressure on the Town of Collingwood to take action. Petition, emails to Town of Collingwood Clerk Office, emails to Councilors, deputation to Councilors (to make Council aware of a problem that they should already be aware of and which staff is not acting appropriately on) All of these actions are are detailed at www.coyoteconcernscollingwood.com under Action” and “Petition
  2. Organize as residents to engage other residents. Post signs on mailboxes, hand out information cards to households, direct people to www.coyoteconcernscollingwood.com to get a resident’s perspective on the coyote issue.
  3. Attract media coverage.
  4. Education: We have to counter the biologist arguments that coyotes are an important part of the ecosystem. We do not have a rabbit or mouse problem in Collingwood and if we ever did; coyotes roaming at large would not be the preferred solution.
  5. Education: We have to counter the argument that we have destroyed coyote natural habitat so they are forced into our urban areas. It is true that natural habitat is destroyed when developments are undertaken and responsible action to deal with wildlife at these locations are not taken. The more relevant reality is that coyote population is growing independent of the loss of habitat. They are extremely mobile, territorial and are finding new territories to grow their population;  coyotes are not endangered. The MNRF has banned coyote hunting in the Algonquin area to protect a wolf species which is adding to the population issue.
  6. Education: We have to counter the argument that we do not want to hurt coyotes as they have the right to protection.  The argument should be made to protect them in the wild but not in urban centers such as Collingwood where we need to protect people and pets from coyotes. Pets should have rights to protection and coyotes attacking pets in Collingwood should not be unacceptable.
  7. Education: We have to counter the argument that trapping is cruel and can harm other animals such as our pets – this has happened and can happen if not managed responsibly. Trapping by licensed experienced trappers can be done with a live trap to eliminate damage to other unintended animals. Hunting/trapping is cruel to many but legal and necessary to control the population of animals and deal with threats from wild animals. The laws permit trapping to deal with problem coyotes. Are the activists (including MNRF and Coyote Watch Canada) wanting to protect coyotes in effect putting our pets, children and ourselves at risk – should they have such a voice and influence on our safety in Collingwood.
  8. Take action ourselves and start trapping coyotes on private properties which is permitted by law if coyotes are damaging property or a threatening to damaging our property (pets are included in property). We are starting a live trapping program; hopefully this week with a number of approved residential properties. I have committed to funding this project with the support of donations from residents.
  9. Wait until the coyote concerns effects you directly – lose a pet, child or a threat or attack on you. (not a problem until it effects you)
  10. Accept the preferred position of the Town of Collingwood; Learn to coexist and accept the consequences and change the way we live in Collingwood – keep our children and pets close to us and/or inside and away from coyotes who are entering our yards day and night. Unfortunately this is the preferred choice of our government and our public funds are being used to promote this policy.

Concerned resident!

Jeff Brown



Are the Parks and Trails Safe in Collingwood with Coyotes Present

Recently (02-28-2018) I emailed the Town of Collingwood Clerk about my concerns for safety issues at Nip Spooner Park on Georgian Manor Dr in Collingwood. As a resident I believed the Town park was not safe given the fact that coyotes frequented the park. I do not use the park myself but I felt a sense of community responsibility once I realized their was danger in our area from coyotes. I was aware of the threat and problem, in my mind, so I felt the Town of Collingwood should also know about this issue and hopefully share my concerns and take appropriate action. Reasonable expectations?

Resident emails of immediate threat in area

I did not get a direct reply response to my email of 02-28-2018 but a comment was provided in response to another of my emails on March 02, 2018. It was stated that “Because of the ongoing concerns / sightings around Georgian Manor Drive, the Town will be posting signage in the area”.

email from Sara Almas 03-02-2018_0001

I suspect the sign that will be posted in the Nip Spooner park will be the Town’s coyote awareness signs.

It is reasonable to state my concern over the saftey of the park on my street is being address by a coyote awareness sign. What I do not understand is that I am aware of the issue and some parents with kids are aware of the issue so they don’ t use the park. The Town’s response is to make others aware that coyotes may be present and to help people deal with the situation. According to the Town’s policy makers if we are aware that coyotes may be at Nip Spooner Park (which we know they actually are there – not may be) then in the Town’s mind we have been served appropriate notice that we can deal with the coyotes. In addition a Coyote Watch Canada meeting, for those who attend, will help educate us to scare off coyotes when present.

Now that we know by seeing coyotes frequently at the park or we will know by signage which will be posted at the park at some point in time (does not appear to be urgent) what are parents told to say to their kids from the education programs available through the Town of Collingwood – MNRF and Coyote Watch materials?

Kid: Mom can I take Rex (small family dog) to Nip Spooner Park for a walk and play?

Mom: Yes be careful. Coyotes may be present. As we know if you see coyotes at the park; do not feed them, keep Rex on a leash, if they approach appear large and aggressive, make loud sounds, back away slowly, and do not run home.

Kid: Will they hurt me?

Mom: According to government provided stats  and opinions it is “unlikely” that coyotes will attack people. You are more likely of be hit by lightening.

Kid: Have coyotes attacked kids?

Mom: We are told it is “unlikely” but we are also told that coyotes are wild animals and should be treated accordingly MNRF risk assessment emails

Added conversation which would not happen based on government provided information for coexistence.

Mom – but I was provided with several cases in which coyotes attacked and bit young kids like you. How would this change the discussion and actions by the mom and kid?

I have been made aware of three incidents partly on my own research as I am concerned and provided by a community website https://www.coyoteconcernscollingwood.com




Kid: What does treated accordingly mean. What should I do?

Mom: We have discussed what the signs say. You should obey the signs.

Kid: What happens if I get scared and run home?

Mom: Don’t run because the coyotes will think you are prey and will more likely attack you like a rabbit.

Kid: Will the coyotes hurt Rex (small family dog)

Mom: Coyotes commonly attack small dogs according to the MNRF who is a government agency mandated to protect animals. We are told to keep dogs on leashes and if they are attacked it is acceptable behavior by wild animals such as coyotes. If they attack Rex the government will not do anything to the coyote.

Kid: I would be very sad if they attacked Rex.

Mom: You should be able to scare them off it you yell at them and throw something at them.

KId: Would coyotes attack Rex if I was walking with him on a leash?

Mom: I think it could happen but not sure. They say coyotes commonly attack small dogs.

Additional information. Recent attack on a small dog being walked on leash by a older women in Markham.

Kid: I am not a very good thrower. What happens if I don’t hit them? Will they hurt Rex?

Mom: We are told that this is an acceptable risk and our parks are safe. I trust the government knows what they are doing and would not put you at risk. We are suppose to coexist with coyotes and continue to enjoy our parks. I guess a few dogs will suffer because of coyotes.

Kid: I think I will stay home and play video games.

Back to the emails to the Town of Collingwood regarding the park.

On March 16, 2018 I met with Town Clerk Sara Almas and Dean Colver Director, Parks, Recreation & Culture, The Town of Collingwood. After the meeting Dean requested joining coyote concerns Collingwood Facebook group and is currently a member.  I trust Dean will give us some additional insight into the park situation in Collingwood and why Nip Spooner park is safe in his mind.

In advance of the meeting I sent an email with some ideas to discuss – break the ice.

town meeting ideas 03-16-2018

We did not discuss my email in advance of the meeting. Unfortunately our meeting was not productive as we were at very different ends of spectrum on what should be done about coyote concerns in Collingwood. Hopefully the debate on what should be done with coyotes vs educating residents on how to coexist will continue. The Town believes we need to be educated on coexistence and we need to educate the Town on the threats we feel should be addressed. Resident concerns and threats should not necessarily be assessed based on other communities or what is a standard across Ontario or other cities in Canada. The residents of Collingwood have the right to have a say in what they deem to be a threat and to have these threats acted on.

One interesting discussion was around my request to change the Town coyotes signs to indicate danger vs awareness. I suggested the signs are misleading as the presence of coyotes creates a danger. The Town’s perspective was more aligned with considering “potential danger”.

Below are some of my thoughts on the meeting. I am sharing this because there are many people who would like to attend a meeting with these individuals and debate the need to take action on our coyote concerns and remove coyotes from our city.

Email exchange with Town of Collingwood Dean Colver;

email response Dean Colver 03-16-2018

Back to the topic at hand – are our parks and trails safe?

In the case of Nip Spooner park my position is it is not safe for kids with or without parents and not safe for small dogs. In my mind it is unacceptable for kids to have to deal with unpredictable wild animals who have attacked kids. I would not allow my children to play in this park. I believe coyotes are an immediate threat to public safety by being around the park. if parents were to approach the park and see coyotes they should call the OPP at Call 911 or Collingwood OPP at 705-445-4321 and tell hem that you feel threatened by coyotes and believe there is an immediate threat to your safety – please respond.

By posting the coyote awareness sign at Nip Spooner Park will  this in effect, to many parents, be an unofficial closing of the park?

I believe the Town of Collingwood has failed to act on the need to close the Nip Spooner park until coyotes are removed from the area. If residents are concerned about threats from coyotes then they can trap coyotes on their own properties. This is how it is left with the Town.

The Town has responded to their position to the Nip Spooner park by email response that signage will be added. I invite Dean to comment on this in our Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/CoyoteConcernsCollingwood/  to help us understand why the Nip Spooner park is safe for kids to play and under what conditions should parents enter the park and use it with their kids.

As a parent; I would not take my child near this park in Collingwood.

If public opinion will help keep our parks safe then please email the Town of Collingwood with your concerns;

  1. http://www.collingwood.ca/clerk email salmas@collingwood.ca
  2. Email  Collingwood councilors http://www.collingwood.ca/council and ask them to address the coyote concerns of Collingwood by removing them form Collingwood and keeping them out.
  3. Sign an electronic petition to ask for action.  The petition will be emailed to the Town of Collingwood Clerk.
  4. Present a deputation to the Town of Collingwood Council http://www.collingwood.ca/node/2265

Jeff Brown