Letters – Our readers write: Summer 2010
Letters published in the Summer 2010 edition of In The Hills magazine.
Expand the Greenbelt?
This letter is on behalf of those farmers who happened to get caught in the Greenbelt plan.
A friend of mine farmed 75 acres, down on McLaughlin Road, and got caught in it. His little spread was his retirement plan. I talked to him, asking if he’d read your article and he says, “Oh, sure.” But like most farmers, it is not in their nature to complain – and for that matter, he thinks the Greenbelt is a good idea.
The article mentioned the 2007 study by Richard Vyn, University of Guelph: “Over half of the Greenbelt area is negatively impacted by more than a 25 per cent decrease in the value of land assets.” It’s a whole lot more than 25 per cent. Ask anyone, even a decrease of 75 per cent in value is closer to fact. The article also says, “in essence, there are three camps in the argument” – you ought to add a fourth: those farmers, who happened to be in the Greenbelt area, and whose pockets were picked.
“The Greenbelt: Letting the Belt out a Notch or Two,” by Jeff Rollings (Spring 2010)
My good buddy down there on McLaughlin is comfortable enough. But if he can no longer take care of his little place and decides to sell, it will be mighty difficult. The land is too expensive to farm. So perhaps someone will want to buy it, tear down his bungalow and build a nice big custom home – but how much can he get for a 75-acre flat-land building lot? He might be hard put to get even a million…so much for his retirement plan.
The solution – too late for Joe of course – is to tax the developers on adjoining lands. Even a small percentage, say 5 per cent, would create a nice fund for these people who’ve been shortchanged.
It seems like the farmers get it in the neck, every time, and In The Hills’ re-presentation of them, in this otherwise excellent article, is disappointing. And no, I’m no farmer.
John Vibe, Erin
Thanks for the fantastic article by Jeff Rollings on the Greenbelt. Yes, the Greenbelt should be expanded. There are two solutions to urban sprawl – the GTA should insist that developers design denser housing or/and our government should reduce immigration numbers to Canada; ultimately our environment cannot accommodate such a large increase in population growth.
Not being a farmer myself, I would like to know exactly what farmers located in the Greenbelt do not like about the plan and what would they like changed. How can protecting land from development and farming co-exist? Let’s work together to have the Greenbelt expanded.
As my farm is already about one kilometre inside the Greenbelt, I may be taken as neutral on Greenbelt 2. I’m against it on principle, as well as for other reasons.
The Greenbelt assumes that the landowner no longer owns his own property. The original owner of my farm was granted it by King George IV in 1822. Ever since, the owners have preserved farmland and a woodlot, and now I have planted the entire farm in trees. Does that sound as if I plan to destroy the greenery?
It is monstrous for a government to seize control of land without compensation. It is equally monstrous that the Greenbelt Alliance, with its over eighty environmental groups, should be telling the government that they know better than me what to do with this land. I suspect few of them have ever farmed and most are urbanites.
As for trespassers who believe that farms in the Greenbelt are public, I notice that a Hills of Headwaters tourism publication printed in 2006 includes a “Greenbelt” advertisement of two pages that says, “Join us in celebrating our living countryside.” Not only does the government seize planning control; it also encourages trespassing.
Farmers are geographically isolated and generally not gregarious; so they do not belong to any lobby movements – or they didn’t until the present government commenced to curtail their right to make farming decisions. (The Ontario Landowners Association was created by MPP Randy Hillier to amend that state of affairs.)
I’m reminded of the poem “The Man with the Hoe.” Back off, government. This land is my land.
Charles Hooker, Orangeville
I agree with what the Greenbelt intends to do. Preventing urban sprawl and protecting the environment should be considered by both municipalities and the provincial government. However I think that farmers should be compensated because “for the greater good” doesn’t pay the bills.
Sarah Carter (web comment)
Bethell House Hospice
Thank you so much for another excellent issue. As a volunteer involved in the landscaping at Hospice Caledon’s Bethell House, I was particularly interested in the fine article by Iain Richmond (Bethell House, spring ’10) about this wonderful project. Two hundred volunteers! Who knew?
“Bethell House: A Tranquil Home away from Home,” Iain Richmond (Spring 2010)
In a happy connection to your magazine, our Bethell House committee contacted Maple Leaves Forever whose founder Ken Jewett was one of In the Hills’ Local Heroes (winter ’09). As a result we have forty beautiful sugar maples which will line the driveway at Bethell House, providing shade, colour and a connection to our area’s heritage for many years to come.
And as a final thought I wanted to say how handy it is to have In the Hills online! We always save our issues but can’t always find them when we want to look something up. It was great to be able to read the spring issue online when we were away in March.
Diana Hillman, Caledon
Before I even had a chance to read the article on Bethell House, I was receiving phone calls and emails with congratulations and wows.
Writer Iain Richmond truly captured the simple essence of Bethell House from many perspectives. The picture of the hands draws one right into the spirit of the story. Not sure how Pete Paterson settled us all down for the photo, but he was successful.
We are so grateful to you all.
Nancy Hall, Manager of Resident Care, Hospice Caledon
I wanted to thank Michele Green and all of your staff for the wonderful coverage of Theatre Orangeville’s Drama Young Company in the spring issue.
“The Enchantment of Young Thespians,” by Michele Green (Spring 2010)
I think you have captured all that we do so wonderfully … and generously. We have linked Michele’s article all over our website and look forward to promoting kidsinthehills.ca – your latest brilliant endeavour!
Wendy Sheedy, Publicity Manager, Theatre Orangeville
I’ve always admired and appreciated your magazine and its general contents, including the very tasteful and artfully created graphics (ads included). A quality product, through and through.
As much as I’ve appreciated and continue to appreciate your seasonal publication, I welcome and applaud your decision to support and expand your base, with the inclusion of your newly developed web site. Nicely done.
It’s advantageous and convenient to have both options and your web site really facilitates the ability to archive or pass on worthwhile information to others, on a far wider scale and with significantly greater ease.
Peter Noce, Orangevill
Online In The Hills
We welcome your comments! For more commentary from our readers, or to add your own thoughts on any of the stories, please add a comment at the bottom of any article. You can also send your letters by e-mail to [email protected] or use our handy submission form. Please include your name, address and contact information. In the Hills reserves the right to edit letters for publication.