Save our seedlings
Province plans to shut down the Angus Seed Plant
Earlier this year an online petition appeared in my inbox and the topic stunned me.
The instigator of the problem didn’t, though: our provincial government, led by Premier Kathleen Wynne, trying to quietly cut some corners.
Last fall, it was decided the Angus Seed Plant, located in Angus, Ont., and operating under the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry would be closed effective September 2018. Job-wise, this is not earth shattering.
Six employees with specialized training and talents, eight if you count Sammy and Pepper, the “mouse control technicians” also employed by the plant, will lose their jobs.
But the action cuts deeper than that.
The government’s reasoning is the seed plant has been operating at only 20 per cent of its capacity – plus the specialized equipment is dated and the building is old and in need of refurbishing. On top of this, apparently the plant is losing about $1 million or more per year and this will rise if needed repairs and renovations are made.
The hope is a private company might take over the work currently being done by the tree seed plant, allowing the MNRF to focus on merely saving forestry genetics found in Ontario’s woodlands— something the plant has already accomplished in its storage facility.
If a government funded entity cannot even break even, would a private buyer take on the same task for the same revenue? I think not. Seed prices will skyrocket!
The not-for-profit tree seed collection service was started in 1923 and was the sole supplier for Ontario’s reforestation projects. Seeds are collected from mature, healthy specimens across the province, extracted, sorted, tested and stored in freezers until ordered by tree farms such as the Ferguson Forest Centre in Kemptville.
The rows of started tree seedlings can be seen from County Road 43 as you enter Kemptville from the east. If you have ever bought bundles of seedlings to plant on your property or been given a seedling to take home and plant, in all likelihood it originally came from the Angus Seed Plant.
They are, no doubt, the source of the over 400 trees surrounding our farmhouse and barns.
It is obvious this facility was created and run for the good of the province’s forests and residential tree coverage. The intention never was to make a profit, as the process itself is slow and painstaking.
The fees for seedlings are either charged to the public or absorbed by conservation authorities such as the Raisin River and South Nation conservation authorities. The seedling-growing farms such as the Ferguson Forest Station by no means pay for the collection of the seeds, and neither were they ever intended to.
The question now will be who will supply viable tree seeds and at what cost, or will the tree-seedling farms close and the tree giveaways cease due to the unavailability of reasonably priced seeds?
This is a service to Ontario’s native flora and fauna. A private company setting up an equal service would no doubt put the pricing of indigenous seeds out of the range of the average buyer – after all, for them, profits would come first, not reforestation.
We all know how much money the Wynne government has squandered and wasted in inane, poorly thought out and unneeded projects as well as by changes of mind. It is in the billions of taxpayers’ money.
In the grand scheme of things, supporting the continuation of the Angus Tree Seed Station, which has always been a nonprofit and government-supported, operation, is a no-brainer. Given a choice, I would rather my tax dollars go there than for cancelled energy plants, renewable energy faux pas, paying the U.S. to take excess electricity and the like.
As there was no public input sought in this closure – even the mayor of Angus didn’t know – it is important the shutting down of the Angus Seed Plant not take place in silence. If you would like to add your name to this petition, find it at: www.change.org/p/kathleen-wynne-save-theontario-tree-seed-facility.
Let all levels of our present government know they are being closely watched.