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A Letter To The Editor From A City Resident From Thornhill

on August 12 | in Ag News | by | with No Comments

Let farmers farm, writes GTA resident

It is time that we, the well-intentioned city folk, stop telling farmers what to do.

The farmers are very responsible shepherds of the land and work hard to produce our food. They often transfer their land to children and grandchildren, which means they are very interested in keeping their land environmentally clean for generations to come.

So how do we, the city folk, dictate to them? Well, it is through the ballot box. In Ontario we currently have 13.6 million people and, as of the 2011 census, there are 51,950 farms. Add a family on each farm and you get about one per cent of the vote coming from legitimate farmers. They no longer have any clout at any level of government.

Here are a few of the things city folks do that farmers are helpless to stop. Would we build a garbage dump within city limits? Never. We in Toronto have purchased a dumpsite 150 kilometres away and we truck our garbage, generated by the city, beyond smelling distance. Toronto owns a dump in the Keele Valley, that has plenty of room left for garbage, but chose to shut it down because city folk objected to the trucks.

We, the city folk, use a lot of electrical power. We had an ideal spot called Lakeview to revitalize a gas-fired plant. It would have produced power right here where we need it, with transmission lines in place. Instead we go 200 kilometres out of the city to build a new plant, with power lines through farmland. Not only was it a high capital cost, but the high-voltage transmission losses to bring the power back to the city will continue forever.

Perhaps with the exception of the CN Tower, all of our relay towers for our television and our cellphones are located on farmland. And then there are the windmills. I haven’t seen many of these in the greater horseshoe area of Ontario. ‘Not in my backyard for urbanites, but let’s inflict them on farmers; is the way the windmill legislation is written.

In Chatham-Kent, the majority of police work is related to the town and city people. Do we build an outdoor gun range close to the city? No way. The police buy property one mile from the Kent-Lambton boundary and fire away to their hearts’ content where it can only annoy the local farmers.

Governments are getting better and better at passing laws that add to expense, are time consuming, and contribute little benefit to real farmers. Some of these are gun licences to buy ammunition, mandatory courses on spraying to buy herbicides, rules on when and how to spread manure, burn permits, demolition permits, and tree bylaws, just to name a few.

In fairness to Chatham-Kent, not passing a tree bylaw was wise. If you can’t cut a tree down without a hassle, then farmers will not plant new trees. Lambton County has had a tree bylaw for several decades and I now see farmers in Lambton that are totally treeless and are likely to stay that way. In the Toronto area, we have all sorts of tree bylaws, but they are waived if we need a new subdivision. There are places to grow trees and places to grow crops to feed the hungry world – Chatham-Kent is the latter.

Thank you Chatham-Kent for being the heart of agriculture in Ontario. May we all appreciate our farmers and not add to their burdens.

J. Thomas Kerr

Thornhill, Ont.

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