Proposed Environmental Regulation

UPDATED 23 NOVEMBER 2013
UPDATED 17 NOVEMBER 2013
PUBLISHED 15 NOVEMBER 2013

MANDATE FOR CHANGE
A number of environmental laws in Wentworth should be changed. The strong vote received from taxpayers who want change, gives a mandate to our representatives to make the requested changes.

Other changes should also be made as soon as possible. For example, the law giving Inspectors the right to enter any home without advance warning, and to force taxpayers to answer any question, should be repealed immediately. We don’t need such Draconian measures in Wentworth.

Below is a 1st draft of proposed new environmental regulations. Please make comments to help improve these suggestions. If the comments are closed, it’s because the link has been discovered by spambots. Please look for another live comment section, for instance the “Who Should I Vote For?” page is currently spam-free. If you can’t find a live comment section, please send emails to: editor (at) WentworthGazette (dot) com

PROPOSED ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION

IMPLEMENTATION SCHEDULE
1. The year 2014 is used for consultation and research.
2. The year 2015 is used for conditional implementation of the new policies to see if problems arise.
3. Starting January 1, 2016, if no problems have been found with the new regulations, they are adopted as permanent changes to environmental law in Wentworth.
4. Any law can be reversed at any time, if it is found to endanger the health of our waters.

WATERFRONT BUFFER ZONE
For relevant science, see article “The No-Go Don’t-Touch Zone Along Lakefront“.
5. The proposed new waterfront buffer zone is 2 metres for flat land, increasing by one metre for each 10 degrees of slope. (For example, if the slope is 30 degrees, the buffer zone will be 2+3=5 metres.)
For additional science see article showing that Quebec mandates 3 metres buffer zone alongside agriculture where there is heavy use of fertilizer, manure and herbicide. Two metres for cottagers is more than enough.

TRADITIONAL CRIBS FOR DOCKS & BOATHOUSES
For relevant science, see article “Cribs & Bureaucrats
6. Cribs made of logs and rocks according to Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources guidelines will be legalized in January 2015. Wentworth has the authority to allow this in the smaller lakes. Legal research will have to be done to determine if Wentworth has the authority to allow this on Lake Louisa, or more to the point, if the Quebec Ministry of the Environment has any recourse against Wentworth for allowing this. If the Ministry has recourse against Wentworth, then it’s proposed to send the Ministry a letter, as soon as possible, declaring our intention to authorize cribs starting January 2015, and the letter will include a copy of the Ministry’s own letter, which states there is no science supporting Quebec’s prohibition of cribs. Our letter of intention will state that unless Quebec declares they will oppose our new policy, we will proceed with its implementation. This way we avoid long delays while Quebec changes its legislation, we protect ourselves from recourse, and we get sensible policy at the start of 2015.

7. Despite the above general guidelines and time delays, some environmental regulations become effective immediately.

TRIMMING HEDGES, BUSHES & PRUNING TREE BRANCHES
8. From October 1 through March 30, all bush trimming, hedge trimming and tree branch pruning in buffer zones is legal. Bushes, hedges and trees are considered most valuable for their roots, which help stabilize the soil. Pruning and trimming, during dormant season, has no negative impact on roots. (It remains illegal until January 2016 to remove roots, or cut/kill trees, within the current buffer zone of 10-15 metres depending on the slope of the ground.)

LAWNS
9. During the two-year phase-in period of the new laws, it is legal to cut pre-existing lawns to not less than 8 cm in height. It is not legal to plant new lawns within the current buffer zone, until the new buffer zone is permanently adopted in January 2016. Although not legislated, mulching mowers are heavily recommended. The finely cut grass remains in place to become fertilizer for its own roots, and the layer of mulched grass bits inhibits evaporation, and precludes the need for watering. If the lawn is not watered, the roots will also grow deeper and hold the soil better. A mulching mower saves raking, watering and fertilizing, and is better at preventing erosion.

TREE CUTTING
For relevant science, see article “Falling Autumn Leaves“.
10. During the two-year phase-in period, it is legal to cut down trees that are not within current buffer zone and lateral boundaries, with the following restrictions:
10.1 No more than 5% of trees on a property can be cut in any one year.
10.2 Before cutting any tree, a photo is taken and sent to the Municipality. If the Municipality does not object within two weeks, the citizen can proceed to cut the tree without the need for any permit.
10.3 Any tree can be cut without waiting two weeks if it threatens power lines or buildings. Even so, a photo must be taken before the tree is cut, and the photo sent to the Municipality.
Anyone without easy access to digital photography can ask the Municipality to come and take photographs on their behalf. The Municipality will maintain a list of teenagers to take photographs at low cost, so that Inspectors don’t spend their time traveling around taking photographs.

LEGAL THREATS, WARNINGS & FINES
11. No environmental tickets or fines will be issued during the two-year phase-in period. Also, no lawyers’ letters will be sent, or Municipal letters with the heading “Without Prejudice”. Only if gentle pressure fails to resolve a genuine danger, will additional measures be considered.

The essence of our new environmental policies is based on “good faith“. If citizens don’t act in good faith, and if they do illegal things in the wrong place or at the wrong time, we will all lose the presumption of good faith, and we’ll end up back where we were, with aggressive regulation disconnected from common sense, and penalties, fines and lawyers letters.

We don’t want to be “nosy” neighbours running to the Municipality to complain about our neighbour’s behaviour. We want to be good neighbours, taking into account the concerns of those who live next door. We all have a lot to gain by being sensible about the environment, and respectful of our neighbours.

2 thoughts on “Proposed Environmental Regulation

  1. Elaine Anderson

    Congratulations to the Wentworth Gazette. Very encouraging results.
    Many thanks
    Elaine
    Sent from Elaine Anderson

  2. Marion

    I think that the responsibility we took upon ourselves as voters to marshall changes in leadership at the municipality has to continue. This is only the start of a new chapter of improved, positive relationships between the municipality and citizens. I would strongly support that the fine research done by Wentworth Gazette take root in our community as a number of us can fulfill the role of citizen scientists. Many of us have the time to do so and all of us have the passion to protect our lakes and forests and the animals living there – rather than my attic – I draw the line there.

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