My contention is that a population’s satisfaction level is indicated by the number of candidates running in an election.
With Ontario municipal elections slated for Oct. 22, if my theory is true, a lot of South Glengarry residents are dissatisfied with current council. On July 22, 12 newcomers had 25 endorsements and will be contesting the three incumbents seeking re-election.
Our present mayor is retiring and the current deputy mayor will take his position with no one contesting him. Three are running for the position of deputy mayor — one is a councillor. Twelve, including two incumbents, are competing for three councillor positions.
We have several farmers standing for election, hence the possibility of a strong, pro-agriculture council. The others come from a variety of backgrounds with several names associated with the “stop clearcutting” movement.
With candidates finalizing their campaign platforms, trying to appeal to the most voters, several have contacted me asking for the main concerns of area farmers. Not being an expert, I gave them a list of the main topics of conversation at this year’s Williamstown Fair: The South Glengarry bylaw deptartment and building inspectors, possible restrictions to clear cutting, the burn bylaw and the agricultural property tax rate not being reduced due to higher assessments. None have asked about my own concerns.
For years, winter snow on Hwy 34, north of Lancaster, blows brown with eroding topsoil and there are other roads which do the same in South Glengarry. Nothing is done to stop it. As more land is cleared and more fence lines removed, this situation is becoming more prevalent.
The townships and counties constantly increase their road right of ways leaving wider, unfarmed verges, deep ditches and a weed haven. These large tracts flourish with noxious weeds but are too deep and steep to take a riding lawnmower or standard bush hog. Visibility problems exiting lanes and concessions abound. Cutting two feet in twice a year is not maintenance and spring time herbicides just anger residents.
Conservation authorities are concerned with declining forest area but modern forestry courses teach only to count trees in acreage of forest, not actual trees standing. The fact that in 50 years, an entire concession has gone from being farmed to unfarmable due to planted and volunteer tree growth tells them nothing. A tree does not have to be in a forest to count!
All these problems could be solved by a windbreak program, funded by conservation authorities and planted on land owned by the municipalities. Instead of cutting and spraying along the road right of ways, the growing trees would reduce soil erosion caused by wind. It would also stop snow drifting problems, lessen the land available for noxious weeds, reduce the amount of road allowance to be cut and/or sprayed each summer, create the animal corridors that natural resources wants and increase the number of trees.
Yes, the problem of trees getting into hydro wires would have to be addressed but the crews are out every summer trimming anyway. Or find a variety of evergreen that grows slower or doesn’t grow as tall.
Past windbreak programs have all involved tree planting on farmer-owned land, but as the cost of everything rises, so does the need to get every last dime out of an acre of land. Needed is co-operation and a program between conservation authorities and the municipalities. Thinking outside the box may just suit all sides of the tree and spray votes.
Angela Dorie is an agricultural writer and a Jersey farmer near Cornwall.