A groom­ing grass-roots move­ment

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

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?

More bilin­gual

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)

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