Connect the dots


The day after Chatham-Kent council rejected consideration of a bylaw regulating woodlots, heavy equipment was brought in to clear a woodlot on Taylor Road near Ridgetown. Woodlot preservation supporters are pointing to the latest woodlot destruction as an example of why the municipality needs protection in place.

The day after Chatham-Kent council rejected consideration of a bylaw regulating woodlots, heavy equipment was brought in to clear a woodlot on Taylor Road near Ridgetown. Woodlot preservation supporters are pointing to the latest woodlot destruction as an example of why the municipality needs protection in place.

The ongoing refusal of Chatham-Kent council to enact a bylaw protecting the community’s disappearing woodlots demonstrates either the power of political influence or a near-fatal lack of understanding of how laws work.

Either way, it’s not good for Chatham-Kent.

Council as a whole last week rejected a woodlot conservation bylaw in favour of a “natural heritage implementation strategy,” which is as impotent as it sounds.

Want to bulldoze every tree on your land? Go ahead, with council’s blessing, because as the consultant’s report on the issue reads in part “Chatham-Kent has shown leadership to … maintain and advance woodlands, wetlands and grasslands for over a decade.”

Rubbish. The reason this issue is before council is exactly the opposite. We’re one of only two communities in Southwestern Ontario without some type of protection.

Chatham Mazda from Chatham Voice on Vimeo.

Council went to great lengths to claim that only 1% of landowners aren’t good stewards of the land but couldn’t connect the dots after that.

We don’t have laws for the people who obey them – we have laws for those who don’t.

Most people don’t drink and drive – we have laws to stop those who do.

Most people don’t’ steal – we have laws to stop those who do.

Most people don’t spill toxic waste into waterways – we have laws to stop those who do.

Most people realize our environment needs to be protected. Not our elected officials in Chatham-Kent.

One premise of law is that it is enacted for the common good.

What’s more common than the air we breathe and the environment we share?

The fact that some of our leaders can head into this autumn’s election with the belief they have agricultural groups in their pocket is appalling.

They may find out that the 99% who aren’t on the radical fringe don’t like being lumped in with the 1%-ers. They may also find out that “tree huggers” vote too.


  1. All you have to do, is look at California today. They have no trees, no water retention and no crops. This short sighted outlook was held by those in the dust bowl and the middle east, which used to be the supposed, garden of Eden. Just be sure they don't ask for a taxpayer hand out when it all goes to hell.

  2. This piece of land is also a wetland and is likely to low to drain with the current tile system and drains in the neighbourhood. The taxpayer will be on the hook for the drainage subsidies when this landowner decides to tile it and hook into the existing drainage network. His/her neighbour's will also have to foot part of the bill. Open your wallets folks.

  3. Shame on our local Council for their lack of action, again – and bravo to you at the Chatham Voice for definitively stating your position on this issue. As a voter, I would appreciate details on the members of Council who bailed on the by-law (along with on-the-record statements from new candidates running for Council this Fall, citing their position on passing this by-law ). With the upcoming election, it's time to name-names.

  4. The idea of a by law is total non sense. It is not needed, nor warranted. A bylaw serves only a very narrow self-interest group who lack any respect for personal propert rights. Those who favour such a bylaw should open their wallets and by the land if it is important to them.

  5. We don't need laws about murder in Canada, we have about 600 a year.Thats like one person in 60,000, the percentage is so low it is infinitesimal. Lets just have a policy

  6. Well PDD, there is also the fact, that as a "landowner" you are a steward of that land! There is far too much misconception with land ownership! That is what bylaws are for!!! to direct the "misled"
    Also, would like to point out that you said "personal property rights"…That is totally different than land ownership!

  7. The only argument Corcoran seems to make for a bylaw is that CK is one of only two communities without one. So what? Why is that important? What evidence is there that wood lot preservation is either needed or warranted? What about the assets, if not the rights of the property owner? Does anyone even care? The facts of the mater are is that Canada has 10% of the entire world's trees. We have more trees than we do vermin. And interestingly enough the total tree cover in Canada isn't significantly different than it was 100 years ago. Now don't get me wrong, I love trees. Who doesn't. In fact I've BOUGHT TREES for my own yard. I didn't go over to Corcoran's house and steal his. If you are going to ask for a law to take something away from a person who has legally acquired something. And it better be legally defensible because as a taxpayer I have no interest in shelling out my hard-earned dough for a losing law suit. In short this was a poorly researched, one-sided story devoid of any attempt to present a balance. In doing so, all readers were poorly served.

  8. You can watch the council meeting on tv cogeco, and see the entire discussion. I believe tv cogeco also posts all council meetings on their website.

  9. PDD….and your point of this link? I see nothing there that I don't already know….Are you still arguing the personal property issue here? Cause, if you are….Land is not personal property (as most see it) But rather an entity, that is in the care of the person that claims it.!

  10. Mr. O'Rourke, you express an ideology that requires no further response from me. I'll just let that sit there and speak for itself. #VivaCastro

  11. Psst. It's an editorial, not at story. Editorials are delivered with opinion. My only regrets are that I didn't write it and I mistakenly didn't give Jim Blake credit for such a good editorial.
    A pig farmer once told me that if we — that is the municipality and landowners — planted trees and shrubs along creeks, streams, drains and other watercourses, we'd effectively triple our forest coverage and help limit erosion of farmland into those watercourses. Yet some farmers would rather plow right to the edge of the drain regardless.

  12. Pig farmers were not so generous with those sorts of anecdotal views when it came to nutrient management plans a few years ago. In fact I remember a number of them turning lose a herd of baby pigs in our office. In any event I suspect this particular farmer may not have the same expertise in forest management as others.
    What I an fairly sure about is that Canadian farmers are the finest stewards of their land anywhere in the world. and for good reason. It's their livelihood. And those woodlots? Well they will grow food on that land – food to feed among others people who are starving. Editorial isn't a licence to ignore facts, regardless of whether you or Jimmy wrote it. A few weeks ago this single-interest group conducted a public protest attracting all of about six people. It always amazes me how so few people can hoodwink politicians and the media. Well perhaps not the media so much; after all a story, even one without substance is better than no story at all I suppose. I will try and make my point one final time. There is no protection of the public interest requiring the intervention of the government in this issue. There is not a shred of evidence. The evidence proffered by single-interest advocates is distorted, inaccurate and in some cases fantasy. I have nothing against people who like trees and who want to protect woodlots. God bless them. But they have no right to create a law which destroys the value of an asset without compensation. And they have no right to ask me as a taxpayer to provide compensation when there is absolutely no public benefit or need. If they want to protect woodlots, they should feel free to take out their cheque books and buy the land. As for the news value of this particular issue all I can say is that if I did this in my job, people in your profession would accuse me of pandering.

  13. Patrick Donna Davis Well PDD…first lets talk about distorting the facts…In your rant, you talked about the "single interest group" that conducted a public protest. I'm presuming that you are referring to the one that was conducted in the fall? and not a few weeks ago. The fact is..that rally had more than six people and also collected over 100 signatures for a bylaw!

    Secondly…I'll give you another fact…..Forests are totally sustainable on their own, without any input from man! Can you say the same for farmland? No!!

    There needs to be a balance, and some select few are tipping the scales on this one. Fact is…They are the ones causing this whole problem.

  14. I'm thinking more that you cannot argue my point? You seem to be a person that thinks a lawless country is far better? I would suggest then…to live in a lawless country and see how you like it?
    Laws and by-laws are there for everyone! not just the select few.

  15. How many ppl in CK? Ahh es the tyranny of the minority. And yet not one person, not you, not any member of council and not a Jimmy in this column has managed to put forth a single, coherent or valid argument for imposing a bylaw, which I suppose is the reason council in their collective wisdom did what they did.

  16. PDD…You really should get your facts straight. The main reason for the somewhat low numbers for a bylaw (as you claim) is solely because people have not been aware! I can tell you for fact (as I was a door to door collector of petition names) That I had an over 90% signature rate!! Yet I'm only one person, and that was our problem…we needed more leg work…But I guess you know what the people really want? Unless you've pounded the pavement and can prove me different? then be my guest.

  17. Patrick, the reason behind a bylaw is to protect mature forests (and planted ones with taxpayer/donation money) The reason society needs to protect forests is to maintain our local biodiversity for moral reasons, our future, and all the other services that nature gives us for free. Just ask any farmer if we can live without biodiversity. I know I cant. I need beneficial insects, pollinators birds, water cycling etc. that nature gives my farm for free. Without all that we would have similar extremes like they do in the prairies.
    Give us farmers a bylaw and we can farm just as we always have, just like in Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex, Huron, Perth etc….


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