ALEXANDRIA – The Township of North Glengarry comes back after a hiatus on their tree cutting bylaw.  On September 2019 the township issued a proposal for a new by-law for their tree canopy policy.  

Residents had brought to their attention that there were many issues that needed to be addressed regarding the proposal.

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the township and council came together to try and work this by-law through to fruition.  

The council held an online meeting where members of the township both for and against the by-law were given a brief chance to voice their concerns regarding the proposed by-law.

What is council trying to do?  

In the fall of 2019 the council had proposed a tree cutting by-law. Residents had a great deal to say about it, and their comments were attached to the draft by-law. 

To the surprise of concerned residents, after months of opportunity to work on the by-law using the comments as a guide, the council came up with a proposed by law that is virtually the same as the previous draft. Other than the word “DRAFT” attached to the document there does not appear to have been an effort made to address any of the major issues.

Area farmers are concerned that with this proposed by-law their financial position will be truly compromised.  Land clearing is expensive and it is not always possible to have all of the parcels cleared in one year.  Often the plan is to work on a specific number of acres in one year, and then so much each additional year.

With this proposed by-law, if the permit is granted, you will be required to leave a 2.5 metre buffer around the property.  Considering plant growth and drainage issues, it is an unreasonable proposal.   

The same old arguments arise as farmers realize the amount of farm land that is consumed each year by building of houses or businesses, yet when the trees come down and the new space created is turned into farmland the community does not have the same response.

A representative from the township expressed their frustration with this particular by-law process. There is a concern the issue was beginning to take on a life of its own and it was disappointing that the by-law had not been passed already.

The one thing both sides agree on is that there needs to be some kind of by-law to address the township’s position on the tree canopy.  What council needs to realize is that it is not reasonable or feasible to have a 2.5 meter buffer of trees around a parcel of land that has been cleared for the purpose of crop production.  How do you put in your tile drainage? What happens to the outside rounds of the field that are stunted by the tree growth?  It is not always possible to have the clearing and clean up completed in the recommended time frame.  

These are all valid points being brought forward from the farming community.

When did the role of farmers in the townships change from being a viable financial contributor to the community with their families who pay taxes, attend local schools, participate in local community groups, to being the contributing part of society that requires them to provide tree coverage and take on the role of maintaining bush? 

Why is it the responsibility of the farming community to ensure an adjacent home owner is able to enjoy a nice view of the trees on a farmer’s property when those same trees can have a negative effect on a farmer’s income.