Water, Fire and Earth

Shoreline Tree Cutting Bylaw?

In the last few years clear cutting shorelines in the Township has caused considerable public concern. 

The land adjacent to Dog lake was cleared before the Shield Shores Condominium development proposal was introduced.  And, last winter a steep slope on Sydenham lake was cleared.

Residents often questioned why this clearing was allowed?  Some of the confusion stems from the fact that conditions placed on minor variances, lot creation and sub-divisions often include provisions to protect shoreline vegetation.

Sadly, there is no broader protection in municipal or provincial legislation for trees along lakes and rivers.

Staff reported on options for protecting trees at the October 26 Development Services Committee. The Committee asked staff to prepare a more detailed proposal for a bylaw that would prohibit tree cutting within 30 meters of navigable waterways and significant wet lands with a limited number of exemptions, for example, creating access paths to the water and clearance for buildings.  The next proposal will come to a Committee of the Whole meeting.

Open-Air Fire Permit Bylaw Passed

Last month I reported on a proposed bylaw to require permits for open-air fires in the Township. Many of you commented, both for and against.

At the Council meeting I proposed that the bylaw be deferred to allow for public consultation.  Council defeated the deferral and passed the bylaw.

The bylaw recognizes two kinds of outdoor fires.  One is a “recreational fire”, the kind most of us would have for a marshmallow roast and to sit around with friends. Recreational fires require a once-a-year permit.  When this permit is obtained, at an initial cost of 15 dollars, people will be required to confirm that they have looked at the bylaw and understand their legal obligations for safety.  It will also collect emails and contact information so when fire bans go into effect, people can quickly be notified.  There are no further requirements for recreations fires through the year.

A second class of fires, “open-air fires”, for example, burning brush piles, and fires in barrels and drums, will require both a yearly permit and a notification, at no extra cost, each time there is a fire.  These fires are more dangerous and notification to the fire department will allow greater monitoring and fewer false alarms.

Aggregate Pit Taxes

Some aggregate producing municipalities in southern Ontario have started a campaign to increase the taxes on aggregate quarries.  A 2017 change in the property tax structure set by the province means that active gravel pits, which are often very profitable, pay less property tax than single family homes and small businesses.

A media release from the County of Wellington states, “Arbitrarily classifying gravel pits as among the lowest forms of farmland sets an artificial cap on these producers’ valuations and keeps their property taxes well below what they should be paying. In turn, residents and businesses are subsidizing the break that gravel producers are getting.”  They argue that municipalities in Ontario are losing millions of dollars in tax revenue every year which negatively impacts their ability to provide services.

The province, as part of their drive to open the province for development, has also proposed that municipalities be barred from trying to recoup the cost of damage done to roads from aggregate mines.

To find out more about the campaign for fair taxes on aggregate mining and to support the campaign go to: https://www.facebook.com/fairtaxesontario/

COVID Continues

We are well into the “second wave” of the COVID virus and hospitals are starting to fill up.  As in the first wave, Frontenac and the Kingston area have relatively few infections.

Most local residents are following public health guidelines.  At the same time residents are being imaginative in finding ways to get outdoors and make our community work. For example, some have organized street closures to allow families to participate in Halloween and maintain safe distances. And the Township has started a Halloween house decorating contest. The Friends of the Cataraqui trail, working with public health advice, is organizing a family friendly Rudolph Run on the trail. The event will take place on November 21 and all participants will receive a red-nosed mask.  

As we push back wilderness boundaries and become a more interconnected, populated, world, we have seen an increase in communicable diseases. I think we are on the cusp of creating a new normal that incorporates enhanced methods of infection control into vibrant communities.  It will require patience, compassion, and innovation, but over the millennia human societies have done it and we will do it again.  It is great to be part of a community that is up to the challenge and will help led the way


About Ross Sutherland

retired nurse, researcher, public health care activist.
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