Letters to the Government

MCRAE FARMS LTD
21535 Old #2 Highway
Bainsville, Ontario K0C 1E0
Phone: (613) 347-2226 or 551-3267
Fax: (613) 347-2071
Email: shawn.tara.mcrae@sympatico.ca
August 1, 2008
Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Ontario Premier
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A4
Tel: 416-325-1941 Fax: 416-325-3745
Email: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Dear Mr. McGuinty:

For many years, the strident criticisms from rural people have been falling upon deaf ears at Queen’s Park, but now there is new opportunity to begin building a bridge over the abyss that divides urban and rural affairs. Your government can quickly and decisively address a very specific issue, thereby demonstrating to rural people that your government is not engaged in the business of “stealing their land and property” or “interfering in their livelihoods and economic opportunities”. This singular issue resides within Section 98 of the Clean Water Act, 2006 (CWA).

On August 15, 2008, I was elected by my agricultural peers and then appointed by a regional Source Protection Authority board to represent agriculture within the Raisin-South Nation Source Protection Committee, one of nineteen such organizations mandated by the CWA enacted by your previous majority government. Our Committee had barely begun the 5-year task of researching and implementing the requirements of the Act for our region, when we were inundated by hue and cry from rural people in anguish over additional restrictive regulations, impending property devaluation, livelihood and business interference and other economic/freedom issues which promise to negatively affect responsible, law-abiding rural property owners in various ways and by an indeterminate geographic scale and socio-economic magnitude.

By February, we (RSNSPC) agreed to research and implement a fair and reasonable Compensation Policy (http://www.spcagreps.com/rsnspccompmodel.htm). This initiative holds the promise of conjoining the MOE’s “precautionary principle” Source Protection environmental initiatives with a sensitive, compassionate and responsible policy for free-living rural citizens who utterly depend upon their lands’ equity and utility, and who may suffer severely from what the Act describes as “injurious affection”; a by-product of restrictive regulations.

Our initiative was so sensible and forthright, that many other rural Source Protection Committees (SPCs) across the Province, feeling similarly responsible to their neighbours and fellow citizens, also engaged the policy and endeavoured to implement it. What happened next was tragic.

On May 14, 2008, Ian Smith (Director, Source Protection Programs Branch, Drinking Water Management Division, Ministry of the Environment) announced that the CWA “does not provide for the inclusion of policies related to financial compensation. The Act also states in subsection 98(6) that nothing done in accordance with the Act constitutes an expropriation or injurious affection for the purposes of the Expropriation Act (except an expropriation under s. 92). This provision indicates that the Legislature did not intend there to be compensation for the imposition of land use restrictions. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to include in the terms of reference tasks related to the development of compensation for land use restrictions.” (Memo to SPC Chairs & Project Managers).

Then, after repeated reprisals for this position had been brought to bear from across the Province, Environment Minister John Gerretsen proclaimed in Kingston on July 7, 2008 that “there would never be enough money to compensate people for the things they may have to do and affected people will just have to live with it.” (Ontario Federation of Agriculture Report #2808; www.ofa.on.ca). This brief, but powerful comment, witnessed by scores of people, identifies two important points: (1) your government is fully aware that a massive cost is about to be foisted upon Ontario’s rural landowners, and (2) your government has no intention of spreading those costs fairly and equitably in a collective, societal effort, as it does with all other Provincial initiatives (health care, roads & infrastructure, etc.). The clear text of the Act, and the clear comment from the Minister show us how singular, unfortunate individuals who happen to own property identified as a “groundwater recharge area”, “well head protection zone” or some similarly damning delineation, stand to be massively and disproportionately burdened with all of the “real” costs associated with the Act’s implementation.

I happen to know from experience how this will play out for affected individuals. My family’s century farm has lost in excess of one million dollars’ property value (recently assessed by Certified Ontario Land Appraisers) due to Provincially Significant Wetland Conservation zoning – and we, of course, are expected to “just…live with it”.

You can do better than this for Rural Ontarians, Mr. McGuinty. You can announce that “errors in judgment were made within the Clean Water Act, 2006 and Section 98 will be immediately repealed. Henceforth, any citizen with a case for significant injurious affection due to implementation of the Clean Water Act will have access to full, fair and timely Compensation to be issued by the Crown.”

You can embrace this initiative which is right and just, Mr. McGuinty, because I believe that although you and I may have very different backgrounds, philosophies and perspectives, we are both highly honourable and principled individuals. Therefore, I am confident that you will show appropriate respect for rural Ontario’s citizens, our hard-earned assets and resources, the integrity of our free-enterprise livelihoods, our indelible contributions to Ontario’s economic and moral fabric, as well as the traditional rights and freedoms imbued within our fee simple land titles – rights and freedoms which must not be undermined or abrogated by the CWA or other land-relevant legislation, without appropriate and commensurate restitution to restricted owners.

Time is of the essence, Mr. McGuinty. MOE regulations are being written and SPC policies are being developed at a rapid pace. The Ontario Landowners’ Association, along with all concerned rural Ontarians, Ontario Agricultural Groups, Rural Ontario Municipalities, and countless other rural interest groups will be awaiting your announcement by September 30, 2008. Should you fail in this, your honourable duty, indignant rural Ontarians will have no choice but to descend upon Queen’s Park in massive protest yet again, in October, 2008.

This letter will be extensively circulated to consolidate anticipation for your Government’s revised position regarding Compensation within the Clean Water Act, on or before September 30, 2008.

Despite a hectic crop harvest schedule, I am at your disposal, should you require any insight and perspective that I may provide during your deliberation and research into this issue. Finally, on behalf of farmers, landowners and honest hardworking citizens, I sincerely thank you, in advance, for resolving this exigent issue.

Yours truly,
Shawn McRae
President - McRae Farms Ltd.
Ag Rep for the Raisin-South Nation Region Source Protection Committee
Director & Past President - Glengarry Landowners’ Association

In conjunction with:
Jack MacLaren
President - Ontario Landowners’ Association (OLA)


OLA
Ontario Landowners Association
Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Rm 281, Main Legislative Building Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A4
Tel: 416-325-1941 Fax: 416-325-3745
Email: dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Dear Mr. McGuinty:

A member of our organization, Shawn McRae, represents his agricultural community on his regional Clean Water Act Source Protection Committee in Eastern Ontario. As a consequence of his Committee’s diligent research into compensation for financial injuries resulting from Clean Water Act Policy, a devilish section of the Act has been exposed, namely Section 98 – “Limitations on Remedies”.

Through our organization, Ontario’s rural people have protested many intrusive, invasive, unjust edicts and policies stemming from a series of Legislative Acts that specifically injure our independent communities and self-reliant people, yet you’ve met these repeated admonishments with utter distain.

Section 98 of the Clean Water Act puts any claim for “injurious affection” safely out of reach of any common citizen: No remedy; No costs, compensation or damages are owing or payable to any person… Proceedings barred; No proceeding, including but not limited to any proceeding in contract, restitution, tort or trust… Proceedings set aside; Any proceeding referred to in subsection (3) commenced before the day that subsection comes into force shall be deemed to have been dismissed, without costs… No expropriation or injurious affection; Nothing done or not done in accordance with this Act or the regulations, other than an expropriation under section 92, constitutes an expropriation or injurious affection for the purposes of the Expropriations Act or otherwise at law… while section 99 provides “immunity from action”.

Is this the method by which you propose to “work hand in hand” with rural Ontario’s people, as you acclaimed in the Legislature last winter in response to criticism from MPP Randy Hillier? Obviously, your intent is to steal the utility of privately-owned rural property and turn it to public purpose without paying the owner for it, or the associated damages resulting from the taking.

You, as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and current Ontario Premier, can decide to reverse this draconian assault on rural Ontario’s free-living citizens. You can declare that “the Legislature must amend this Act to ensure that those who suffer “injurious affection” will have their injuries repaired by the Province of Ontario. The objective of “Clean Water” is in everyone’s best interest and no one will be victimized during this righteous endeavour!” You must announce your intention to eradicate Section 98 and institute Compensation Policy by the 30th of September, 2008 or we will expose the dark side of your legislation to the public through a large, peaceful demonstration on the front steps of the Legislature in early October.

As a fellow citizen of beautiful Ontario, I’m compelled to say shame on you and your party for writing this section into the Clean Water Act. Shame on you for not calling for changes during the three readings in 2006. Shame on you for enacting and unleashing this piece of cruelty upon Ontario’s rural citizens. It is easily fixed. The decision is yours and we are providing you with ample time to decide upon the only correct course of action.

Sincerely,
Jack MacLaren
President - Ontario Landowners’ Association (OLA)



Raisin-South Nation Source Protection Committee
June 26, 2008
The Honourable John Gerretsen
Minister of the Environment
12th Floor, 135 St. Clair Avenue West
Toronto, Ontario, M4V 1P5

Dear Minister Gerretsen:

I am writing to you as Chair of the Raisin-South Nation Source Protection Committee. Our Commitee has come together from different sectors to represent the population of rural eastern Ontario in our efforts to identify and reduce risks to drinking water sources. We have been working diligently on the Terms of Reference for our region and in the course of this process have repeatedly discussed the need for the province to provide compensation to any landowner who is financially impacted in a negative way as a reslult of source protection plans.

Our Committee has consensus on this issue. We recognize the current legislative framework does not allow for compensation unless expropriation is exercised. We also realize that our locally developed Terms of Reference may not be approved if the language on compensation is too strong. We intend to work within the framework set by the province to achieve a fair and equitable approach to source protection in rural eastern Ontario, however we feel the current framework needs to be amended.

We respectfully request that the Clean Water Act, 2006 be amended to include the principle of compensation for loss of income to private landowners resulting from source protection plan policies. It is our hope that this principle will not be required, but just as powers of entry are in the Clean Water Act for the few people who willfully polute, compensation should also be in the Clean water Act for the few people who will need to sacrifice personal income for the broader public.

Our Committee would like to meet with you to discuss the importance of this issue and how it relates to financial assistance provisions already established. The stewardship program is an important step to recognize voluntary measures to protect drinking water quality, but it is distinct and seperate from compensation which would address mandatory actions in source protection plans for agriculture, business, industry, municipalities and the general public.

The issue of compensation is complex and will require a significant amount of discussion on how it can be implemented. These details can and should be developed in a collaborative environment. Our immediate need is to establish the concept in the legislation so we can work together on developing fair and reasonable compensation policies.

Yours Truly
Claude Cousineau, Chair
Raisin-South Nation Source Protection Committee
copies: Ian Smith, Director, Source Protection Program
Raisin Region Source Protection Authority
South Natiion Source Protection Authority
All Source Protection Committees



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