Residents would like to know how to deal with ash borer
Driving from Omemee to Peterborough in the early morning a couple of weeks ago, the traffic announcer on the radio told his listeners it was a typical morning commute on all roadways – problem free. After almost six years living here, I still love to hear those words. Coming from Toronto, it’s like hearing every morning that I won the lottery, and not the kind that pops into my spam box every week.
But after that fleeting moment of a mental happy dance, the rest of the day and life in general is anything but problem free. Some of the more pressing problems on my radar:
The sewer shortage in Omemee is now, after more than a decade of delays, under con- struction. That should mean that the building restrictions will lift like a paralyzing fog in a matter of months. Lift, and drift with menacing speed toward Fenelon Falls, alas. City staff cried ‘Houston, we have a problem’ at the city council meeting earlier this month, and brought a proposal to freeze development in that town due to the sewer system maxing out.
How does that creep up? How do you not notice that develop- ment is outpacing the availability of pipes and the flow of what goes down those pipes until the point where it metaphorically backs up, and hits the fan? With all the removal and replacement of senior staff the past few years, did a major piece of infrastructure upgrading slip through the cracks, until somebody said, ‘oh s**t’?
Councillors voted to send the issue back to staff for more study without hitting the freeze button on construction for now. It’s good to know what’s going on. Better, though, is to overhaul the monitoring system to prevent other areas in the city from reaching overcapacity. And take action immediately, before Fenelon Falls discovers what it’s like to have meetings and studies ad nauseum and finds itself frozen out of growth for a decade or so.
In the service of sparing residents from another WTH (what the heck) moment, a public education strategy would be nice to have for the expected arrival of the emerald ash borer. This little pest from Asia has pretty much cleaned out Toronto of its ash trees, and is in Sault Ste. Marie, portions of the province of Quebec, and on the city’s doorstep at Durham Region.
It was on council’s agenda on April 23, when staff recommended the city should ask the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to keep the city in the loop while a scientific solution is sought on how to kill the borers before they kill every ash tree in sight. Good start, but I learned about the problem from a friend in Toronto who had to have her huge ash trees removed from her property (at her cost) and from a local arborist.
A heads up from the city would go a long way to helping residents learn how to recognize an infestation and how to prepare for the coming battle. Think of pamphlets and press releases, or a midnight rider with a lantern galloping into the City of Kawartha Lakes, yelling the ‘The ash borers are coming! The ash borers are coming!” Or, something.
And what’s a month without a head shaker from Mayor Ric McGee? He told The Lindsay Post this week that he billed taxpayers $600 for a ticket, plus mileage, to attend a swanky private federal Conservative fundraiser in Toronto last month for the Peterborough association and Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro. And what of those residents who disagree with him spending our taxes on a specific political party? “Narrow minded and short sighted” is his reply, saying he has to network to receive federal funding to the municipality. Well, kiss my ash borer. I thought federal funding was based on need. If McGee ever runs for the Conservative party, it would look arrogant and selfserving. For now, taxpayers can demand an itinerary put on the city’s website so that they know where their mayor is spending his time, and our money.