ACTION Causes RE-ACTION by Donna Burns

Staying in touch with your OLA representative in your area has proven to be a valuable asset for those landowners in Renfrew County. Recently, a concerned property owner approached Donna Burns, President of the Renfrew & Nipissing Chapter of the OLA, because there were a crew of workers on her private property (without her consent) inspecting the trees and the species habitat in that area.

After questioning these workers and informing them they were on private property, she was then given a letter dated May 22nd identifying themselves as Thunderhouse Forest Services from Hearst, Ontario who were contracted by the MNR to do a forest inventory and ecological land survey of the forests within the Ottawa Valley. It further stated “From June to October 2014, Thunderhouse Forest Services Inc. is carrying out forest survey work (Timber Cruising) in the vicinity of Deux Riviéres, Pembroke, Arnprior, Petawawa, Calabogie, Renfrew, Wilno, Griffith, Foymount and Eganville. The end product of our work will be a new forest resources inventory for the entire Ottawa Valley Forest. The forest industry, private landowners and MNR alike rely on an up-to-date and accurate forest inventory to manage forest sustainably and to promote local economic development. Our work is carried out under a contract with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Forest Resource Inventory Section in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario”.

This information was immediately passed along to the membership of the Renfrew Pembroke Nipissing Chapter. The chain reaction began when another member became proactive and not only wrote Thunderhouse advising them they were not allowed on her property, but also advised their local municipality. They, in turn, responded back stating they were not aware of this happening at this time, and that “… EcoRegion 6 is extended from north of Ottawa to Pembroke and is to preserve diverse forests and the species that depend on that habitat. The townships of Whitewater, Admaston-Bromley and Laurentian Valley will be severely impacted with respect to development unless it is in an already expansion settlement area”.

With this new information, Donna Burns then studied the recently released Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) 2014 released April 30th to be implemented under Sec. 3 of the Planning Act of Ontario that would be enforced under the umbrella of the County & Municipal Official Plans. It would seem there is a “Natural Heritage sec.2.1” in this PPS wherein it states in sec. 2.1.3: “Natural heritage systems shall be identified in Ecoregions 6E & 7E, recognizing that natural heritage systems will vary in size and form in settlement areas, rural areas and prime agricultural areas.” EcoRegion6E is in this area, therefore, we shall be subjected to these restrictions that do not permit development or site alteration. It further states: This Provincial Policy Statement shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with the recognition and affirmation of existing Aboriginal and treaty rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Algonquin Land Claims are already a major concern to many property owners in Renfrew County.
If this PPS is implemented, it means strict regulation within the area and within certain perimeters outside of the designated area…another reason for de-evaluation of our properties. Anyone familiar with the word “heritage” understands you are limited in most anything regarding changes/alterations without permission from the government. Ultimately, this may affect real estate, farmers, developers, and cottage owners — simply all property owners from enjoying the use of their private property. There may also be even more restrictive additional regulations regarding waste disposal, septic tanks, etc…anything they say that will have, as quoted in the PPS, “…negative impacts on the natural features or their ecological functions”.

Our strength is in our numbers and good communication. Had it not been for the first property owner to bring this matter to our attention, and another property owner keeping us informed on her pro-active response, we would never have been able to put the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle together in order to see the real picture our province appears to be creating for property owners in rural Ontario. Thank you to all of you who are participating in our effort to fight this battle to protect our property rights.