A letter from Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust
Comment from MPP Randy Hillier (Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington)
MVCA’s response to MPP Hillier
Comment from North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins
MVCA’s response to Mayor Higgins
The rules are not clear and when they are different for the publicly owned land than they are for the private land it would appear to stink. Why is it ok to treat the public wetlands different than the privately held lands. What is the appeal process for these new rules. I don’t like to see vague and unclear changes for no real reason. This change should not occour.
Having view the map of proposed wetland areas, it appears that no one has actually physically checked the places you are proposing. I can see that a number of the areas which will be protected are currently farmers fields. Some of the area is an irrigation ditch (which if memory serves me my Great Grandfather helped to create). And in my case in particular, although it does not appear on the map, your protection area covers my house, which was completed in the summer. It also covers my septic field, backyard and part of my laneway. Which, the MVCA approved during the building permit phase. I certainly do not agree with the proposal, nor the fact that the landowners affected have not been informed. This will certainly lower a number of peoples property values, mine included.
Obviously no person has actually walked these properties to determine if they are indeed wetlands. There are two proposed areas set out on our farm that have been under cultivation for two years and were previously hay fields that have been harvested by us for over 20 years. These areas give no indication of being wetlands. As noted by Mr. Henry, regulating these areas differently than publicly owned lands is unnecessarily arbitrary and unfair.
As land owners, we have many issues with the proposed policy.
The lands identified on the Interactive Map as proposed unevaluated Wetland Regulated Areas include areas that are arguably not Wetlands, as noted by both Mr. Henry and Ms. McBride. When obtaining a building permit on our property, the MVCA was consulted. It was verified by the MVCA that the land was not deemed “wetland”.
A policy change so significant to landowners, should require a more formal/legal notification, not just a posting on a website or through social media. These proposed changes will have a personal financial impact and will affect the livelihoods of landowners. How will the landowners be reimbursed for their devalued property worth and loss of potential future income? How many landowners are actually aware of this proposal, and what percentage does that represent of all affected?
Should this proposal be accepted, will these lands remain unevaluated under the proposed regulations, or will there be on-site evaluations? (as would happen with Provincially Significant Wetland determination) As an example, factors such as land affected by beaver infestation should be taken into consideration. Without on-site evaluations, will there be an appeals process for the landowner to follow?
As landowners, we take the responsibility to act as stewards to maintain and respect the beautiful land of this province. We understand the importance of wetlands and their role in healthy ecosystems. We also feel that we have the right to be treated equitably. If this proposal is accepted, our land will be regulated in the same manner as Provincially Significant Wetlands, without the same evaluation or compensation (Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program).
Without further facts supporting the proposal and answers to the questions stated above, this proposal should be considered poorly communicated, unjust and unfair.
Before decisions are taken, on-the-ground verification appears to be called for. There are numerous areas marked on the map for designation as wetland that are not wetland, including farm fields. As one example, please note areas in the rear of Drummond C-7/L-10 and the front of Drummond C-8/L-10. These are not wetland and would be very negatively impacted if declared to be wetland.
The designated area of FID-25 and 28 are zoned Agricultural by Beckwoth Township.I applied for a land severence on land Lot 19, Conn 10. in FID 25 and was rejected on account of it being prime Agricultural Land by the Ontario Government.This land should be kept zoned Agricultural Land.
Forest property is just as productive as cultivated land for an income source.
Arnprior Federation of Agriculture & Lanark Federation of Agriculture
February 9, 2017
Comments & concerns regarding Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority’s proposed draft policy to designate non-provincially significant wetlands within the MVCA watersheds.
1. MVCA has an existing wetlands policy that was last updated in 2015, why do they feel the need to revisit these policies now? Given that the provincial government is currently reviewing both the Conservation Authorities Act and its wetlands policy, we feel it would be prudent to wait since the outcome of both those could impact what MVCA is seeking here.
2. Under Proposed Changes, what is the definition of “hydraulic connectivity” as it relates to the draft?
3. Also under Proposed Changes, the second bullet point mentions “changes in use”. If a farmer changes the use of a farm building in such a way that it requires a building permit, will the farmer be required to seek permission for this change?
4. In the same section, there is reference to the use of heavy machinery in and around the wetland. We would like this to be clarified to ensure it does not include agricultural equipment.
5. We object to the phrase “existing agricultural uses” used in the permitted activities list as well as in Sections 9.1.1., 9.3.7, 9.4.4 and Section 9.4.8 of MVCA 2015 Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses. The word “existing” was dropped from the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement and should not be used in this policy. As per the 2014 PPS (Policy 2.1.9), “nothing in the policy 2.1 (Natural Heritage policies) is intended to limit the ability of agricultural uses to continue”.
6. A number of the proposed policies contain language like “deemed to be acceptable by the MVCA” or “may be permitted provided it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the MVCA that”. This language is vague and leads to arbitrary, subjective decisions on applications. Policies dealing with how private landowners may or may not be able to use their property should be clear and unequivocal. Vague language and policies should be rewritten to provide clarity.
7. In Section 1.2.1, item 7 – structural repairs to an existing building should not be at the discretion of the MVCA.
Additional comments/questions regarding MVCA’s 2015 Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alteration to Shorelines and Watercourses policies; Section 9.0 Wetland Policies
1. Section 9.3.8; “Repair and/or maintenance to existing drainage works under the Drainage Act may be permitted …”. Once a municipal drain, established by by-law under the Drainage Act exists, the municipality has a legal obligation to maintain and repair it, as necessary. If the conservation authority does not permit repair or maintenance, who will be liable for any damages occurring as a result?
2. Section 9.4.7 (h); Where does the 500 m² (5382 ft²) number come from? This would be a very small building size for a typical farm operation.
3. Appendix A: Definitions: The definitions of both “agricultural uses” and “agriculture-related uses” are not the same as those found in the 2014 PPS. Why? Additionally, the “wetland” definition differs from the version found in the Conservation Authorities Act. Why?
Our comments are a follow-up to the “Changes to Wetlands Policy” meeting at the DNE office on Nov 1, 2016. As the owners of multiple farm properties affected by these proposed changes in authorities of the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) we felt it was necessary to attend this meeting. However, following this meeting we have learned that most of the information provided to us at this meeting was misleading and incorrectly presented. Our farm property at 2430 Ferguson Falls Road is the most concerning to us as we run a Pick Your Own strawberry patch on this property and the sole point of establishing our business at this location was for the river access. This river access and our ability to irrigate this high valued crop was most evident through the summer of 2016 when our region experienced the worst drought in memory; adequate river access allowed for the production of a strawberry crop without it there would not have been a crop. Any proposed policy that restricts our access to the river directly affects our way of life and ability to farm.
We do not support this proposed policy that allows MVCA the authority to stipulate and restrict the use of the property that we own, pay to upkeep, pay to insure and pay property taxes on. Particularly, supplemental information provided by MVCA indicated that any land within 30-120 metres from the high water mark should be under the wetlands rules as well; This is ridiculous. This restriction would effectively shut our strawberry patch down.
As 6th generation farmers in DNE township we continually implement sustainable practices on all of our farms, regardless of their proximity to rivers or wetlands. However, when restrictive policies like this are imposed on land owners for no clear and valid reason one must push back. Particularly the suggestion MVCA proposed that would restrict the use of use of heavy machinery in and around wetlands. With today’s modern machinery, how would anyone expect to farm if heavy machinery is restricted ?
Has there been consideration to landowner compensation should this proposed policy be passed? Expecting landowners to just sit back and continue to pay taxes yet be restricted to use their land to generate revenue and maintain a living is unacceptable.
We feel the current authorities of MVCA are sufficient and we do not support additional regulations on our land,
Andrew & Julie Dawson
RiverRun Farms / Mississippi Berries
The definition of wetland is under Section 28.25 of the Conservation Authorities Act. Farmland is exempt under that definition.
“wetland” means land that,
(a) is seasonally or permanently covered by shallow water or has a water table close to or at its surface,
(b) directly contributes to the hydrological function of a watershed through connection with a surface watercourse,
(c) has hydric soils, the formation of which has been caused by the presence of abundant water, and
(d) has vegetation dominated by hydrophytic plants or water tolerant plants, the dominance of which has been favoured by the presence of abundant water,
but does not include periodically soaked or wet land that is used for agricultural purposes and no longer exhibits a wetland characteristic referred to in clause (c) or (d). (“terre marécageuse”) 1998, c. 18, Sched. I, s. 12.
And another point to remember is that anytime a conservation authority uses its powers you should ask for compensation under the Expropriations act under Section 31. This can include injurious affection when they take no land but impact your income. Also look at the Antrim Truck stop case of 2013 and the expanded use of injurious affection.
Private property held in fee simple in Ontario has total right, title, and interest in the land subject to expropriation for approved projects and subject to compensation to the landowner. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.