Provincial ministry taking controversial ice hut ad 'very seriously'
IceHutRentals.ca could face investigation, charges and prosecution if it operates on lake without licence
Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is monitoring a company near North Bay Ont., after it posted a contentious Kijiji ad over the holidays.
The post by IceHutRentals.ca said status card users are not welcome to its ice huts on Lake Nipissing, and that any deposit paid to the business by status card holders will not be returned.
"The ministry is taking this situation very seriously," wrote senior media relation officer Jolanta Kowalski in an email to CBC News.
The CEO of Ice Hut Rentals, Marc David Hyndman, posted an apology on his company's Facebook page Tuesday.
He wrote that everyone is welcome at his huts, as long as Ontario 2017 fishing regulations are followed and guests are on a "level playing field."
The ministry does not have a record of Ice Hut Rentals holding a commercial licence, which is required to place commercial ice fishing huts on a lake, according to Kowalski. She added there is a moratorium on commercial ice hut licences on Lake Nipissing.
Despite advertising rental accommodations, the ministry does not have any information at this time to suggest the company is operating a commercial ice fishing business on Lake Nipissing, Kowalski wrote.
If it was operating on the lake without a licence, the business could face a ministry investigation, charges and prosecution under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which says every ice fishing hut must display a number assigned by its licence.
Business owner 'falsely identifying' with ministry
Kowalski said the ministry has contacted Ice Hut Rentals to reiterate the need for a commercial licence to place ice fishing huts on Lake Nipissing.
The ministry has also asked the company's owner to stop: "Falsely identifying with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and its officials."
On his website, the owner of Ice Hut Rentals claims to be the "Incoming Honourable Minister of Natural Resources."
"To be clear, any statements made on by or on behalf of the company do not reflect the views of the ministry," Kowalski wrote.
"The ministry expects the company to follow our direction and take action as required."
Kowalski added that Ontario's government values its partnerships with its Indigenous partners and would not want the views of a "single individual to stand in the way of these relationships."