OPINION: Council made the right call

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Chatham-Kent council made a tough, but correct, decision when it recently voted to place the responsibility of water/wastewater development charges for new greenhouse construction squarely on the back of the project owners. (See “Council approves water rate hike” on page 21.)

However, the change in the fee structure is staggering, and we understand local greenhouse companies are angry over the hike.

Costs will go from 21 cents per square foot in development charges that had been in place, all the way to $4.34 per square foot in 2029.

Greenhouse owners correctly say they provide jobs and the fees will deter new development, meaning fewer new jobs.

However, they neglect to say most of those jobs are for offshore employees, which, granted, is not their fault, due to the fact so few Ontarians seem willing to get their hands dirty any more working for a living.

Still, the development fees should not be a shared cost with homeowners, as too much of the tax burden already sits on that sector. We have only so much room on our collective shoulders. Heck, we’re still carrying weight that our farmers should be bearing, as our farmland tax rate on the most fertile soil in the province here in Chatham-Kent is below the provincial average.

Greenhouse construction will still occur. Perhaps just not at the same pace it had been taking place in recent years.

Furthermore, such construction will likely happen near Lake Erie. If a company can pull water directly from the lake or other water source that isn’t drinking water from the Public Utilities Commission, it would not be subject to the development charges.

Perhaps other options will show themselves. There are innovative greenhouse owners in Chatham-Kent. Look no further than Truly Green on Bloomfield road, which teamed up with Greenfield Global to reduce their combined carbon footprint and save on heating costs for the greenhouse.

We’d love to see this spark new innovation in the industry.

 

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