By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A bid by South Kent Coun. Ryan Doyle to explore the possibility of providing municipal incentives to preserve woodlots got a big thumbs down from Chatham-Kent council.
The defeated motion, 13-4, from Doyle would have requested that administrative staff probe the possibility of incentives and report back to council in March 2024.
Doyle told council he’s spoken with many farmers about the woodlot issue and a C-K incentive program would help preserve tree cover in Chatham-Kent.
“If the municipality, specifically our municipality, does not want them to take down trees, then our municipality should step up and put our money where our mouth is,” Doyle said. “If we’ve got a good incentive program, then they’re not going to want to take down trees in the first place.”
However, council heard from Bruce McAllister, C-K’s general manager of community development, that there are a number of provincial programs available to landowners.
According to McAllister, he’s not aware of any other municipalities that provide woodlot incentives, noting the government incentive programs are voluntary and property owners must enrol.
McAllister said the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority offered tree planting options to property owners and between 2014 and 2021 a total of 547,000 trees were planted across C-K.
An amendment to the motion to dissolve the Natural Heritage Committee of the Whole from North Kent Coun. Rhonda Jubenville, was also voted down 15 to 2.
At its Sept. 25 meeting, council voted to repeal a temporary tree cutting bylaw put in place to protect woodlots from clear cutting. The bylaw was in effect for more than two years.