Sir: Earlier this spring, after repeated attempts – and failures – to encourage council to bring in a tree bylaw, area farmers and other residents started an online and paper petition campaign to gather signatures in support of a forest conservation bylaw.
As of the morning of Oct. 8, 4,500 signatures in support of a forest conservation bylaw have been collected. The names continue to come in.
We would encourage the mayor and council members to take note of these numbers, as they represent the voice of many of their constituents.
The most important names gathered belong to farmer/woodlot owners. We have all been told – at great length – of how the farmers of Chatham-Kent really think. What we discovered is that they think for themselves. Almost 500 farmers have now signed in support of a bylaw.
Despite the claims of a few former executive members of the Kent Federation of Agriculture, the threats of the property-rights lobbyists, and the opinion of the mayor and half of council, we learned what most of us already knew—the farmers of Chatham-Kent care for their woodlots, for the habitat they create and for their benefit to the environment in general and their farms in particular. And they manage them accordingly – as a resource to be valued, not bulldozed into a pile and set to smoulder.
As of Oct. 8 – the date council met to discuss the Oct 21 vote – we had collected the names of 471 farmers and/or woodlot owners in support of a bylaw. As of Oct. 11, 20-30 more names had come in. These numbers were achieved with very limited manpower and with no resistance. Thus far the petition has been distributed predominately in East Kent and South Kent with plans to expand over the next two weeks throughout the rest of the municipality.
Perhaps the most interesting, and significant statistic in these petitions is the overwhelming number of East Kent farmers who have signed in support of a conservation bylaw. Most of the woodlot destruction is happening in East Kent. Clearly, these farmers there are not indifferent to the damage that surrounds them. Two hundred-and-eighty-eight farmers from East-Kent alone – representing well over half of all farmer/woodlot owner signatures – have now signed their names in support of a bylaw, not a policy, which would actually protect what’s left of our forests.