Is­sues to fol­low in 2016

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - -- Richard Ma­honey

Some is­sues will not go away qui­etly or quickly. Con­sider the Glen­garry Sports Palace Re­volt of 2015, which has spilled over into 2016. In April of last year, South Glen­garry served no­tice that it wanted out of the Glen­garry Sports Palace cost-shar­ing agree­ment it has with North Glen­garry. The South’s 25 per cent share of the Alexan­dria arena’s costs amounts to about $ 60,000, money SG coun­cil mem­bers note could be bet­ter spent in their own mu­nic­i­pal­ity. But the sep­a­ra­tion is not quite of­fi­cial, yet. Both sides now agree to call­ing in a me­di­a­tor in an ef­fort to work out a com­pro­mise, and pre­vent the North from be­ing stuck with 100 per cent of the pala­tial costs, which are about $240,000 per year.

With the spectre of an ad­di­tional $60K ex­pense to carry, if the union can­not be sal­vaged, NG will have to sharpen its pen­cil and find ways of cut­ting costs and up­ping in­come. One ob­vi­ous op­tion is the im­po­si­tion of user fees on SG res­i­dents who use the Sports Palace. This will not amuse the 25 per cent of South Glen­gar­ri­ans who use the fa­cil­i­ties. But the move would be jus­ti­fied, con­sid­er­ing that SG ini­ti­ated the break-up and the fi­nan­cially chal­lenged NG folks can­not be ex­pected to sub­si­dize the recre­ation of their neigh­bours.

While there is a chance that South Glen­garry will try to make a tweaked cost- shar­ing deal work, with­drawal rum­blings from the politi­cians in­di­cate that me­di­a­tion is doomed to fail.

A me­di­a­tor only works if both par­ties are will­ing to try to save the re­la­tion­ship. The mood does not au­gur well, con­sid­er­ing the South al­ready has one foot out the door.

Smoke in your eyes

Pic­ture this: It is one of those in­cred­i­ble Sum­mer days you dream of dur­ing the Dead of Win­ter. The sun is shin­ing, the birds are chirp­ing, the sweet scent of freshly cut grass fills the warm air along with hum­ming­birds and but­ter­flies. And then, thick pu­trid smoke be­gins waft­ing into the house and across the yard. This is no bar­be­cue. The neigh­bours have de­cided to burn some stumps. There goes the week­end.

Such a sce­nario is bound to hap­pen more of­ten as de­for­esta­tion con­tin­ues through­out the district. Burn­ing is a sure­fire way of clear­ing de­bris re­main­ing from clear- cut­ting op­er­a­tions. But mounds can smoul­der al­most in­ter­minably, and in­vari­ably some­body down­wind is go­ing to be dis­turbed by thick, lung-clog­ging smoke. What are you go­ing to do? You live in the coun­try.

To its credit, North Glen­garry is try­ing to clear the air by in­tro­duc­ing a one-year post-clear-cut wait­ing pe­riod so that left­over wood has dried be­fore it is torched. This pro­vi­sion com­ple­ments the many ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions that are de­signed to re­duce the col­lat­eral im­pact as much as pos­si­ble.

De­spite their good in­ten­tions, town­ship of­fi­cials re­al­ize that en­force­ment is key. All the rules in the world can­not gov­ern the hu­man fac­tor. As coun­cil was re­minded told last week by a Dun­ve­gan res­i­dent, it boils down to re­spect for the neigh­bours.

Fuel for thought

When is a tax re­bate not a sub­sidy? When it’s a diesel tax break for farm­ers.

That is the story farm groups are stick­ing with af­ter a de­bate was sparked when On­tario en­vi­ron­ment com­mis­sioner Dianne Saxe ques­tioned the wis­dom of fos­sil fuel sub­si­dies, and men­tioned farm­ers' ex­emp­tion from On­tario's 14.5-cent-a-litre tax on diesel.

On­tario’s cof­fers are de­prived of about $190 mil­lion a year be­cause of the tax ex­emp­tion on the red-coloured diesel that is sup­posed to be used for un­li­censed farm, con­struc­tion, forestry and min­ing ma­chin­ery.

The com­mis­sioner is not pick­ing on farm­ers. And she shouldn’t. Agri­cul­ture ac­counts for three per cent of the over­all coloured diesel con­sump­tion.

Farm or­ga­ni­za­tions, such as the On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture, con­tend the tax break is not a sub­sidy, al­though it is in­deed a sub­sidy, ac­cord­ing to the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s dic­tio­nary. Re­gard­less of what you call it, agri­cul­ture and many other sec­tors do re­ceive a fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit from the ex­emp­tion, which is in­di­rectly fi­nanced by all tax­pay­ers, which ev­ery year lose out on $190 mil­lion in po­ten­tial rev­enue.

News item: Stud­ies show cold helps burn calo­ries

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