Change is in the Air for the Ontario Landowners Association by Shirley Dolan

Shirley Dolan
Shirley Dolan

It’s looking more and more like both the federal and provincial governments are determined to keep the pandemic lockdowns in place for the foreseeable future. The federal government, for example, has posted a Request for Information seeking companies that could manage quarantine sites over the next 1-2 years. It is likely that we will be under some kind of restrictions for the next year or two.

This could mean no face-to-face meetings for the OLA and for county groups for some time. However, we have risen to the challenge. Though we are arguably not the most technically inclined group of people, we are using and investing in technologies that help us keep in touch with each other and the public at large.

While it is true that on some fronts, government activities have slowed because of COVID, this does not seem to be the case for conservation and bylaw officers.  County groups and the OLA continue to get calls and emails for assistance with property rights issues. There are dozens of examples of municipalities and conservation authorities over-stepping their mandates since March 2020 when the lockdown began, and these are just the ones we know about.

Here’s what we are doing to keep in touch and maintain communications:

  1. The OLA Executive and some of the County Groups are now meeting using Zoom, an American based communications technology which provides videotelephony and online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform. The sound and video quality are quite good, and participants can join using their computer/tablet/mobile phone using video/audio or by using their telephone for audio only.  The OLA Executive meets virtually, at least once per month, and county group delegates are invited to join every second month.
  2. We are increasing our subscriber list for the OLA ENews by adding the names and email address of all who become a member through our online membership service on our website. This same list of subscribers is notified each time we post a new edition of the Landowner Voices to our website.
  3. An initiative called the Eastern Ontario project was started in the summer. This project combines membership and financial administration for four Ontario county groups: Carleton, Lanark, Leeds-Grenville, Stormont-Dundas, with the objective of improving communications, increasing memberships, and allowing more time for the groups to focus on property rights issues. We have just completed a mail out to the member lists of these four groups.
  4. The OLA and some of the county groups have Facebook pages. These pages have become more important than ever as a means of communication with our members and the public.
  5. The OLA is contemplating a speaker series for county group delegates, again using Zoom. As we become more familiar with this technology, we are discovering ways in which we can engage our membership and the public at large that may be more effective that our traditional face-to-face meetings. We can reach more people at a fraction of the cost of a conference room meeting and our members can participate in our general meetings from the comfort of their own homes. This doesn’t mean that we will never have another bricks and mortar conference – we are simply adapting to the restrictions placed on us, until we can once again have a meeting where everyone is in the same room.
  6. President Jeff Bogaerts is championing the Signs of Fall project. Our signs serve a dual purpose: they promote the OLA and act as a “no trespassing” sign on your property. In fact, in addition to the “Back off Government” slogan that is so familiar to landowners and municipalities, our new signs also say: “No Trespassing”. Jeff has established two locations where signs can be ordered in bulk by county groups. Need a sign? Contact your local county group.

Karen Bainbridge, our treasurer, and her husband are moving to Alberta. The good news is that Karen has agreed to stay on as our treasurer. We couldn’t be happier! We have established a new post office box for mailed correspondence, membership and donations. These should be mailed to:

Ontario Landowners Association
PO Box 346
Woodlawn, ON  K0A 3M0

There is no change to the online correspondence, membership sales and donations done through our website.

Congratulations to Karen and Doug on their new home and thank you to Karen for your great work over the years as OLA treasurer. We are so pleased that you will be staying on in this position.