An organization of private woodlot owners will not be receiving financial help from the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR).
On December 7, 2022, Boisés-Est requested $75,000 from the UCPR to assist its members with remediating damage caused by the May 21, 2022, derecho storm that swept across the region. At that time, the request was met with resistance from the UCPR’s eight mayors. At the UCPR council meeting held on Wednesday, February 22 2023, the mayors voted to deny the funding request.
The decision to deny the funding was agreed upon at the UCPR Committee of the Whole meeting, held on February 8. Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux said he disagrees with funding forestry on private property and does not believe the Ontario Woodlot Association has made similar demands of other levels of government. He said there are other concerns in the United Counties – including affordable housing, health care, and childcare – to address.
“These I find are more of a priority than helping private woodlot owners, by the way, which we already subsidize,” Leroux said
Leroux added the UCPR already provides a 75 per cent tax subsidy for woodlots.
Leroux is concerned the lack of provincial and federal help for certain issues will mean an extra financial burden on municipal and regional governments.
“We will be picking up the slack going forward,” he said.
Clarence-Rockland Mayor Mario Zanth said city council there had requested the UCPR approve the $75,000 for Boisés-Est.
Hawkesbury Mayor Robert Lefebvre referred to a CBC news story from July of 2022, about similar requests for derecho recovery funding made to the provincial government by private campground owners, which were denied. He said it shows woodlot owners are not the only ones wanting help.
“We cannot take on every situation,” Lefebvre remarked.
Both Leroux and Lefebvre said more pressure is needed on the provincial federal governments to aid.
Casselman Mayor Geneviève Lajoie also said continued pressure is needed and agrees with environmental conservation, but said providing financial assistance to Boisés-Est would set a difficult precedent.
Leroux said he was disappointed the landowners did not offer any of their own funding to supplement what was being requested from UCPR.
On February 22, Alfred and Plantagenet Mayor Yves Laviolette moved to deny the $75,000 requested by Boisés-Est. The motion was seconded by Lajoie and carried. However, both Zanth and East Hawkesbury Mayor Robert Kirby voted against the motion.