When snow drifts con­tain sil­ver lin­ings

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY RICHARD MA­HONEY News Staff

Snow drift­ing has be­come a more se­ri­ous prob­lem as a re­sult of de­for­esta­tion in eastern On­tario.

How­ever, the wind-swept snow con­tains a sil­ver lin­ing for many area prop­erty own­ers.

The On­tario government is pay­ing thou­sands of dol­lars to landown­ers along High­way 138 in the Moose Creek area to erect snow fencing.

“The Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion has agree­ments with sev­eral land own­ers along the north-end of High­way 138 to have snow fencing in­stalled on pri­vate lands dur­ing the win­ter months, in an ef­fort to re­duce snow drift­ing across the high­way and to im­prove the safety and oper­a­tion of the high­way,” Brandy Duhaime, re­gional com­mu­ni­ca­tions co­or­di­na­tor, told The News.

“Un­be­liev­able” is how Glenn MacDougall, of Maxville, de­cries the deals.

“Cash crop­pers are clear-cut­ting the trees. And be­cause of that, drift­ing is worse than it has ever been. And then the government uses our money to pay these clear-cut­ters to put up snow fence. They are laugh­ing all the way to the bank. It’s wrong,” de­clares Mr. MacDougall.

The prov­ince signed five-year con­tracts with landown­ers along High­way 138 after con­duct­ing sur­veys in the area south of High­way 417.

Mr. MacDougall claims that two prop­erty own­ers are be­ing paid $27,000 from the MTO to erect snow fences.

The min­istry would not dis­cuss fi­nan­cial de­tails.

“Com­pen­sa­tion for such agree­ments would be con­fi­den­tial be­tween MTO and the prop­erty owner,” Ms. Duhaime says.

Mr. MacDougall con­tends that more sen­si­ble, less ex­pen­sive ap­proaches are avail­able. “Leave the trees or leave a few rows of corn along­side the road.”

Fencing was deemed to be an ef­fec­tive way to try to han­dle prob­lems caused by drifts, the pro­vin­cial roads de­part­ment says.

“This pro­gram was de­vel­oped as a re­sult of se­vere snow drift­ing iden­ti­fied by the min­istry along sec­tions of High­way 138, pri­mar­ily from the north-west,” Ms. Duhaime re­lates.

“Ef­fec­tive snow bar­ri­ers have been found to re­duce the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of snow and ice on the road sur­face, and to im­prove driver vis­i­bil­ity and safety. MTO de­ter­mined that the best and safest place to put the snow bar­rier is on pri­vate prop­erty ad­ja­cent to High­way 138.”

“In ad­di­tion to the prop­er­ties on High­way 138, we also have agree­ments with prop­erty own­ers on High­way 115 at six lo­ca­tions and one prop­erty on High­way 7 in Car­leton Place,” the min­istry of­fi­cial re­ports.

“Com­pen­sa­tion for the prop­erty own­ers on High­way 138 is a tem­po­rary agree­ment dur­ing win­ter months, which in­cludes the rental of lands and the in­stal­la­tion of snow fence. For the lo­ca­tions on High­ways 115 and 7, the min­istry's con­trac­tor installs and takes down the fencing through a mu­tual agree­ment with the prop­erty owner to en­ter their area,” she says.

“The government uses our money to pay these clear-cut­ters to put up snow fence. They are laugh­ing all the way to the bank.”

Mr. MacDougall is “fed up” with what he views as a waste of money.

“Why should tax­pay­ers pay for these fences? I can’t stop it, but I would like to in­form the peo­ple about it,” he says.

“I have lived here for 30 years and I have never seen any­thing like the prob­lems we have been hav­ing be­cause of clear-cut­ting. Hun­dreds of acres of trees are be­ing wiped out. It is sad to think that peo­ple are starv­ing and trees are be­ing de­stroyed to grow more corn for fuel.”

RICHARD MA­HONEY PHOTO

CON­TENTIOUS BAR­RI­ERS: The prov­ince’s pol­icy of pay­ing pri­vate landown­ers to place snow fencing on their prop­erty has been de­cried as be­ing a waste of tax­pay­ers’ dol­lars that re­wards clear-cut­ters.

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