SUDBURY - A lone ice hut is still marooned near the shore of Kelly Lake off Southview Drive, where it has been since the ice melted more than six months ago.
In April, Sudbury Rainbow Crime Stoppers put a call out to the community, asking for help to identify the owner of the abandoned ice hut that has now taken up permanent residence on the lake.
The deadline to remove ice huts was March 31 and the punishment for not adhering to the deadline are stiff, including a fine of up to $25,000 or one year in prison, or both.
The ice hut's owner has not been identified, but what's more, there seems to be no onus on anyone to remove the hut from the water, said a business owner who has been trying to have the abandoned hut taken out of the lake.
Todd Herold, owner of Herold Supply, said he is an avid outdoorsman who hunts and fishes throughout the year.
After noticing the hut floating in the lake near the shore, months after it was to have been removed, he took up the reins of trying to get it removed from Kelly Lake, but he's had little success.
He told Sudbury.com his frustration is mounting as he has been passed back and forth between both the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Ministry of Environment, with neither claiming responsibility for abandoned ice huts.
"I'm disgusted by it, as a person who's in the bush in the fall and in the summer," said Herold.
"I was raised by a grandfather who owned a hunting and fishing lodge down by the French River. I was raised to hunt and fish ethically and correctly, and to do the right things for conservation," Herold said. "(Then) I see the Ministry of Natural Resources not willing to get in there and take it out, and the Ministry of Environment saying it's not their responsibility, it's up to the MNRF."
A group of volunteers tried to get the hut removed from the lake earlier in the year and were promptly told by the MNRF that if they did so, they too could face fines, Herold said.
"Who cares who owns the thing, get it out of the lake," said Herold. "You might find information inside of it that leads to who owns it, but to leave it sitting there saying you don't know who it belongs to and it's not your responsibility is a terrible thing to do."
Without knowing who owns the ice hut, there's nowhere for the MNRF to levy any enforcement, which is a real sticking point for Herold as he says that when the MRNF knows of ice hut or boat owners who are infringing on ministry regulations, they're often very quick to act.
"I had boat incident myself two summers ago and within five minutes of my neighbour phoning me I was home and removing the boat from the lake," said Herold. "Not even five minutes later, I had the Ministry on me saying, 'This is an environmental hazard, there's a fuel leak.'
"Well this is an environmental hazard too, but they've left this there for six-plus months at this point."
When contacted by Sudbury.com, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry communications co-ordinator Jolanta Kowalski said it's dependent on what the ice hut is actually doing when it comes to determining their next steps.
"The owner would be the person responsible, but depending on what that thing is doing that would determine next steps, so I'd have to check with our enforcement folks to see what's happening," said Kowalski.
The MNRF has not yet sent out a response on this matter, but in an email to Sudbury.com, Kowalski says that they should have answers by early next week.
In the meantime, the ice hut remains waterlogged in Kelly Lake, with no signs of moving any time soon.
"The Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources need to be stepping up to the plate here and getting this thing out of there," said Herold. "Get out of the water and then worry about who it belongs to and where it came from."
Sudbury.com will provide an update to this story once more information is made available by the MNRF.