The shame of inaction



The issue of woodlot protection will return to council in two weeks, following months of study and untold acres of clear cutting.

What began as a request by Wallaceburg Coun. Sheldon Parsons turned into a firestorm, exposing as much anger as almost any issue in the last 15 years.

Parsons asked council to consider a moratorium on clear cutting, allowing time to study the idea of a woodlot bylaw.

That request turned into Chatham-Kent’s shame, not because we didn’t adopt a bylaw – but because we didn’t even to show the courage to protect the resource while we looked into it.

Council acted through its inaction.

Those voting against the moratorium (including the mayor) had to know it would mean the destruction of thousands of trees.

Bullying might be too strong a word, but there’s no doubt anti-bylaw forces scared council into voting against a moratorium that would have done absolutely nothing to harm landowners’ rights.

If council had approved the moratorium in March, the only thing that would have changed today is that we’d still have those trees.

We now know for sure that there are a group of landowners who will cut down anything in their path to make a dollar. You can find them hiding among the responsible landowners and farmers who value the land.

Waiting for a compromise wouldn’t have harmed anyone – except those who had no interest in any form of compromise.

Whether it was councilors who in effect said they would listen to whoever yells the loudest or the mayor’s intent in getting the rural vote next time around, votes were bought and paid for with political currency.

Our elected officials couldn’t convince their constituents that they would protect their interests.

Almost every municipality in southern Ontario has a bylaw. Almost every municipality has a higher degree of forest cover.

We don’t need a bylaw for people who obey the law. Laws are made to rein in those who don’t respect anything but their own needs and will do whatever they want to get what they want.

Except in Chatham-Kent.


  1. Jim you have summed it up in a nutshell. Thanks to you and the Chatham Voice for staying interested in a subject that effects us all.

  2. What's going on is shameful indeed. Bravo, Jim, for speaking your mind on this subject and casting a spotlight on the disgraceful inaction on the part of the Mayor and Council Members. Super well written, and eye opening article. I so hope it serves to spark positive change.

    On another note, I'm thinking you're just the man for the job of exposing yet another dirty little secret – the inaction on the part of local council to enforce proper emission control levels from the local Ethanol plant. I've heard conflicting stories about what was and wasn't done to deal with the high levels of fumes and toxins being pumped out of that plant and into our air. Doesn't seem that we need David Suzuki to arrive and explain that something is dead wrong with whatever's pouring out of those stacks – the overwhelming smell and physical reactions to the fumes tells us that something is wildly out of whack. Would love to know the truth about what has and hasn't been done to protect the public's health.

  3. Well said, Jim. It is now abundantly clear that a policy is insufficient, we need both the policy and a bylaw. Administration has prepared them, community review opportunities and input have been provided. It is long past time for leadership. And not just these minimal standards, but now a vision and action plan for recovery. France reforested their entire country at a rate of 1% per year to get to about 30%. At least to 10% in 10 years is somewhere for C-K to start.

  4. Kudos to you Jim for not being afraid to tell the true story. Many do not understand why this activity is allowed to continue in our community in this day and age. It is unsustainable and has grave implications on the environment!

  5. Jim, Thank-you for saying it like it is! Finally we have some media that tells our side of the story! It has been a battle to get the word out to people that this community is on a downturn! We need more input from media that is not swayed by either side of the fence, but tells it like it is! Thanks again Jim.

  6. Thank you for this Jim. Lets hope that Mayor and council use the upcoming opportunity to open their eyes and hearts and for the first time in our history, actually do something to protect the natural environment.

  7. There are landowners who openly state that they like having woodlots, but that the possibility they may lose the option of cutting down in the future led them to hurry up and clear them NOW. Bringing in the moratorium at the start would have avoided that sad and wasteful scenario.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here