A grooming grass-roots movement
Awidespread grass-roots movement continues to gain, and groom, ground in the rurals of Eastern Ontario. Grass-cutting on public property has become a popular pursuit, if not obsession, among property owners with a penchant for mowing.
Most of us are content to deal with the vegetation we have growing on our own properties. And with all the rain we have had this summer, keeping the lawn neat has been almost a full-time job. We all take pride in trimming the zones that are most visible from the road, ensuring that the area near the mailbox is tidy.
Yet, many others go way beyond their property lines. They’re off and mowing the edges of municipal roads, shoulders, ditches. Many of these zealous cutters spend hours and hours happily seated atop riding mowers that cut and mulch and spew out blades of grass, leaving behind golf-green-like tracts, and that intoxicating scent of volatile organic compounds.
Seriously. If we could bottle the smell of freshly-cut grass, the sweet scent could be used as part of a green, organic, sustainable, renewable aroma therapy regimen. Or it could be used as a substitute for freshly baked bread as a means to seal real estate transactions.
Apart from producing such pleasant smells, the eager mowers ought to be congratulated for contributing to the overall neat appearance of our countryside. The cutters are not only keeping the concessions looking spiffy. The benefits of short cuts go far beyond the cosmetic. Mowers are also helping to control weeds and insects. And hasn’t this been a brutal season for bugs?
Yes, it has, according to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. The agency has been constantly issuing warnings about diseases borne by ticks and mosquitoes.
For years, do-it-yourself public beautification has been carried out under the Adopt-A-Road program in Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry. Groups of volunteers collect refuse and debris from the side of their “adopted” road under an agreement with the United Counties of SDG.
The deal is that for a two-year period, the volunteers pick up trash on a minimum length of two kilometres on a county road twice a year, usually in the spring and fall. Contact adop[email protected]counties.ca if you want to pitch in. “In addition to the satisfaction gained by providing a cleaner environment, participants are recognized by a sign with the group or individual name displayed at each end of the adopted section erected by the counties, acknowledging their efforts. These signs help to raise awareness by showing motorists that SDG residents care about their community and the environment,” the counties note on the Adopt A Road Internet page.
This system has worked well in the past. Thus, it would be logical that a similar program be set up to include the grass groomers who tend to the sides of public routes.
We can adopt a road. How about formally fostering a ditch?
Glengarry is more bilingual than it was in 2011, The News reported August 9. In North Glengarry, between 2011 and 2016, the portion of the population who can speak English and French increased from 55 to 56 per cent while in South Glengarry, the portion of bilingual people rose from 52.3 to 52.5 per cent during the same period.
However, the percentage of North Glengarrians speaking French at home went from 31 to 30 per cent, while in South Glengarry, that number dropped from 17 to 16.7 per cent.
The shifts are not huge, however, this is a disturbing trend for those who fear that “bilingual” effectively means “assimilation” of francophones.
Provincial figures set off alarm bells for l’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO), which is understandably worried. In 2011, in the province 542,390 people, or 4.3 per cent of the total population, spoke French most of the time. By 2016, that number had decreased to 4.1 per cent, or 549,185 francophones out of a total population of 13,448,494.
The most recent census numbers confirm that more Glengarrians are mastering a second language. But that pattern is little consolation for the defenders of la francophonie in Ontario.
-- Richard Mahoney ([email protected]garrynews.ca)