When snow drifts contain silver linings
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.”
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.