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North Glengarry clear-cutting bylaw could be a template for other Eastern Ontario municipalities

A new bylaw to regulate the clear-cutting of forests in North Glengarry, which would require landowners to obtain a permit before undertaking large projects, can be a template for other communities in Eastern Ontario to follow, says a spokesman for a group which pushed for the new regulations.

“I’m thrilled that the bylaw went through,” said North Glengarry resident Pete Bock, of the group Glengarry Neighbours, which has lobbied municipalities in the area to take action on unregulated clear-cutting of forest lands. “It took a lot of work from a lot of people, and council’s willingness to listen – they’re the first council in the whole region that has listened.”

Bock said he is hopeful that other municipalities in the United Counties of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry (SDG) and Prescott-Russell (UCPR) will take note, and take the necessary steps to pass bylaws of their own. He thanked officials and council members with the Township of North Glengarry, who he said worked diligently to satisfy all parties with an interest in the bylaw, in order to come up with a solution that was acceptable to everyone.

The Township of North Glengarry Council passed its much anticipated clear-cutting bylaw at the Tuesday, October 12, council meeting. Prior to the bylaw being passed, two public consultations were held: one in November 2019, and one in September 2021. Members of local groups, as well as individuals, were given the opportunity to speak and pose questions to members of the council. Council and staff met with members of the Glengarry Federation of Agriculture, as well as Glengarry Neighbours, to discuss the contents and intent of the bylaw.

The intent of the bylaw is to regulate any nuisance associated with clear-cutting. Under the new bylaw the owner of woodlands who intends to harvest an area of 1.0 ha (2.47 acres) or more of woodlands, will have to submit an application to the township. The information must be submitted no less than 30 business days prior to the start of harvesting. The new bylaw came into effect October 13.

Clear-cutting is a contentious issue and the new bylaw is aimed at finding middle ground between those who support clear-cutting and those who would like to see the practice stopped entirely, said Jacob Rheaume, Director of Building, Bylaw and Planning for the Township of North Glengarry. The bylaw will also provide the township with awareness of planned projects and should alleviate some of the historical issues caused by unregulated clear-cutting in the municipality.

Rheaume said the township worked closely with local agricultural societies and environmental groups on the new bylaw. He noted the new clear-cutting bylaw only affects larger parcels of land and will not affect smaller tree cutting operations by residents of the township.

“Some are worried that if they cut a few trees they’re under the bylaw’s jurisdiction but they’re not,” Rheaume explained. “It’s really when you’re cutting more than 2.5 acres that you have to apply, so if you want to cut some trees you’re good – it’s only for large clear-cutting projects.”

Rheaume also supported the idea that other municipalities in Eastern Ontario may look to use North Glengarry’s bylaw as a template for clear-cutting bylaws of their own – noting it is the first of its kind in the region.

Information regarding the clear-cutting bylaw is available on the Township’s website or by contacting the Township of North Glengarry’s Director of Building, Bylaw & Planning, Jacob Rheaume, at [email protected] or 613-525-1116.

Reid Masson

Reid Masson is a graduate of Algonquin College's Journalism Program. He has over 20 years of experience as a staff writer and editor for various newspapers across Canada, including The Ottawa Citizen and Brockville Recorder and Times.

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