From a release
Chatham-Kent Council recently voted into effect “The Natural Heritage Implementation Strategy” also called the Policy, and chose not to enact a “Forest Conservation Bylaw.”
The Kent Federation of Agriculture (KFA) and Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) Chatham Kent Chapter fully support this outcome and wish to thank Tom Beaton, Mayor Hope and all Municipal Councillors for the time and effort spent to create this unique opportunity.
KFA and CFFO were opposed to the imposition of a Tree Cutting Bylaw because a bylaw unfairly burdens farmers with Bureaucratic control over the trees and woodlands on their private property. The Ontario Municipal Board Act mandates exemptions for non-agricultural developments under a bylaw, but a bylaw would prohibit the conversion of wooded areas into field crop production if the landowner considered it a good business move.
The KFA and CFFO suggest that an important goal is to have the municipality and all other agencies cooperating in creating solutions that everyone can participate in. The Strategy has created opportunities for a number of projects with funding from outside CK that will benefit everyone in the municipality.
This Policy is unique to CK because no other municipality in Ontario has enacted anything like it. A number of other municipalities are looking at what we have accomplished, The door has been opened for many projects that are more than just about trees, such as soil erosion projects, Tall Grass Prairie, sediment ponds for drainage, creation of wildlife habitat, windbreaks for roads as live snow fence and initiatives to help prevent Lake Erie algae blooms.
Chatham-Kent and Essex soils are almost all Class 1,2,or 3 combined with a long growing season, resulting in some of the most diversified non irrigated and consistent producing soils anywhere in the world.
To focus on the positive it must be noted that the 1200 acres of woods that were cleared has been converted to field crop production while providing the environmental benefits of growing vegetation.
An important fact that must be considered is that every three days Ontario loses 1200 acres to urban and other development, this Class 1, 2, 3 and 4 food producing farmland is lost forever. This is local land capable of producing local food. High quality top producing non irrigated farmland cannot be reproduced.
We all need to work together to develop solutions to the loss of farmland in Ontario to preserve and protect the precious irreplaceable asset for future generations so that they may have what we take for granted.
The door has been opened; success of the policy depends on the participation of all stakeholders in CK.