Letters to the Editor – September 2023

“The world’s going crazy.

Nobody gives a damn anymore.”

So said The Kinks in 1977.

Some days it seems to me that they were right and things have gotten progressively worse since then.  However, some gains have been made in human rights over the decades.  Some people have actually enjoyed improvements in their standards of living in what is now almost 50 years. For these improvements we should be thankful.

But as particulate matter in the air caused by forest fires becomes an expected part of weather forecasts, one would hope that the leaders of the Liberal and Conservative parties would want to move quickly to find common goals that would allow them to signal to Canadians that they, and we, can work together to overcome the serious disagreements that have developed or grown worse during the era of the covid 19 pandemic.

I believe they should start by acknowledging to Canadians that, like the rest of us, both of them may have made decisions during the pandemic that were based on what was then current best information, but was in fact based on incomplete information. They should then agree to call an independent inquiry into our response to covid as recommended in the editorial published in the British Medical Journal July 24th. Canadians are still divided over what appropriate responses should have been. If a resurgence of covid19, occurs this fall, we need to know what the best management practices are. Good science is based on continually trying to improve knowledge. Governance should be based on good science and transparency.

John Fallis, Cavan

Ontario’s Farmland Crisis: Greenbelt and Beyond

Ontario’s prized farmlands face a threat following a provincial government decision to remove 7,400 acres from the Greenbelt, a protected zone of 2 million acres encompassing farmland, forests, and wetlands. Yet, this Greenbelt controversy is merely a glimpse of Ontario’s broader agricultural predicament.

Less than 5% of the province constitutes prime agricultural land, and from 2016 to 2021, over half a million acres of this precious farmland vanished. The alarming rate of loss means we risk losing today’s 11.8 million acres of top-tier farmland in production today within the century.

The Auditor General’s report found that lands chosen for removal were selected by private developers, escalating their property value by a staggering $8.3 billion. This exposes a deeper concern about the government’s trends away from transparency and towards public policy influenced by private interests. Other policy shifts that reflect this include forcing municipal urban boundary expansion, revoking municipal comprehensive review policies, which allowed public engagement prior to urban boundary expansion, removing requirements for an agricultural systems planning approach, and reducing density targets in some of the fastest growing municipalities.

Ontario stands at a crucial juncture. As we address housing needs, we must also ensure food security for our growing population. Farmland preservation isn’t a mere policy debate; it’s an existential issue impacting everyone. Meanwhile, the Ontario Farmland Trust urges a united effort to recognize, value, and safeguard our invaluable farmlands – the essence of Ontario’s future.

By Martin Straathof, Executive Director, Ontario Farmland Trust.

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