‘Noth­ing to re­strict nor­mal farm prac­tices’

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - News Mod­ern­iz­ing On­tario’s Mu­nic­i­pal Leg­is­la­tion Act) trig­gered Farm Prac­tices Pro­tec­tion Act,”

BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL

Staff South Glen­garry coun­cil is turn­ing to a re­spected source for feed­back on the township’s pro­posed Tree Canopy and Nat­u­ral Veg­e­ta­tion Policy.

“I sug­gest this policy be brought to our re­cently-ap­pointed ag com­mit­tee, for their in­put or ap­proval, be­fore it comes back for a third reading,” Coun. Sam McDonell said fol­low­ing the first reading of the policy dur­ing the reg­u­lar meet­ing of March 18.

Coun. Martin Lang con­curred. “I think it’s great that we’ve got some­thing here that we can start talk­ing about, but I think it may need a lit­tle bit of work,” he said. “I def­i­nitely want the ag com­mit­tee to be look­ing at it.”

And while Coun. Lang stated that he would like to see that re­view take place “sooner, rather than later,” he pointed out that coun­cil shouldn’t feel rushed.

“From what I un­der­stand, the Prov­ince did have a dead­line, but that was the pre­vi­ous pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment. This gov­ern­ment is not push­ing it, so we can make sure that we take our time and get some­thing that we can live with.”

Coun. Stephanie Ja­worksi sug­gested that the township could also seek in­put from the Raisin Re­gion Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity as part of the re­view process. She favours the idea of “in­cen­tiviz­ing” lo­cal res­i­dents to con­form with the policy – if it is ul­ti­mately adopted by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“Maybe there are tax re­bates, no tax­ing...I know there are mech­a­nisms out there now, but some of them are oner­ous, or too re­stric­tive, es­pe­cially for non-farm op­er­a­tions,” added Coun. Ja­worski.

Joanne Ha­ley, the township’s gen­eral man­ager of com­mu­nity ser­vices, who has put to­gether the pro­posed policy, and would be re­spon­si­ble for mon­i­tor­ing its im­ple­men­ta­tion, ex­plained that coun­cil and mu­nic­i­pal staff have a great deal of lee­way when it comes to draw­ing up and fi­nal­iz­ing the ini­tia­tive.

“Bill 68 ( the need for a tree canopy and nat­u­ral veg­e­ta­tion policy, but if you read that piece of leg­is­la­tion, there’s no ex­pla­na­tion around ex­actly what’s re­quired,” said Mrs. Ha­ley. “It re­ally leaves it up to the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to cre­ate a policy that they’re happy with.”

Ac­cord­ing to the township’s pro­posal, “tree canopy” is de­fined as “all ar­eas of cov­er­age by plant ma­te­rial which in­cludes the layer of leaves, branches and stems that cover the ground when viewed from above.”

“Nat­u­ral veg­e­ta­tion” re­fers to “plant life that grows nat­u­rally in a geo­graph­i­cal re­gion.”

Such growth is de­scribed as a “valu­able re­source” that pro­vides “tim­ber, fruits, medic­i­nal plants, shel­ter to an­i­mals, oxy­gen, and pro­tects soil and stores wa­ter.”

Mrs. Ha­ley in­formed coun­cil that the policy con­tains a num­ber of priority ac­tions that are “eas­ily” achievable, and “should have min­i­mal im­pact” on the mu­nic­i­pal bud­get and staff time.

Among those ac­tions: aim­ing to pre­vent tree re­moval from open and un­opened road al­lowances within the township, as well as tree re­moval on township-owned land; in­creas­ing tree plant­ing on township-owned land, “es­pe­cially within pub­lic parks,” where pos­si­ble; and mu­nic­i­pal sup­port for “res­i­dents and oth­ers in de­vel­op­ing tree plant­ing plans that en­sure the long-term sur­vival” of those plant­ings.

Farm friendly

Mrs. Ha­ley also re­as­sured mem­bers of the lo­cal agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity that they’re unlikely to be sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected by the new protocol.

“There is noth­ing in this policy that is in­tended to re­strict nor­mal farm prac­tices as de­fined by the

she said. “And I think it’s im­por­tant to keep that in the policy...It will al­low a farmer to farm within their rights, within that leg­is­la­tion.”

As dis­cus­sions on the mat­ter con­cluded, coun­cil di­rected Mrs. Ha­ley to or­ga­nize a meet­ing of the township’s Agri­cul­tural Re­source Com­mit­tee in the next two or three weeks, al­low­ing that body to de­lib­er­ate and re­view the pro­posed policy be­fore it comes back be­fore coun­cil.

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