Landowners want woodlot bylaw axed

A bulldozer worked the ground where trees used to be on a plot of land on Plank Road in Sarnia. Lambton County wants to update its woodlot bylaw but the idea is drawing a lot of fire.- Heather Wright Photo

A bulldozer worked the ground where trees used to be on a plot of land on Plank Road in Sarnia. Lambton County wants to update its woodlot bylaw but the idea is drawing a lot of fire.
– Heather Wright Photo

Cheryl DeVries says the proposed Lambton County woodlot bylaw is “heavy handed” and “absolutely ridiculous” and should be axed.

DeVries, speaking at county council on behalf of the Middlesex Lambton Landowners Association, said the bylaw which is under discussion goes against the foundational principals of private property rights.

Lambton County has had a bylaw which regulates tree cutting on private lots since 1979. It introduced a tougher bylaw in November at public meetings which was widely panned. The proposed law imposes restrictions on how much wood a landowner can cut for personal use, allows smaller trees to be cut, and establishes fines for damaging woodlots while cutting.

A recommendation that no one, including commercial loggers, cut between March and July, has already been removed from the proposed bylaw after the county’s only lumber mill said it would go out of business.

After two packed public meetings, the county set up a working group which includes mill owners, land owners and agricultural representatives to improve the bylaw.

But DeVries says the whole bylaw should be scrapped.

“Property owners are not going to ruin their own land,” says DeVries. “It’s just a heavy-handed approach.

“The removal of a persons’ right to grow or harvest trees on their own property is not what should happen in Canada,” she added.

“I’m asking that you the elected officials of this county turn down this bylaw flat… and let the province handle it with existing legislation…It might even save the ratepayers some money.”

Some county councilors agreed the proposed bylaw goes too far.  “I strongly oppose the changes to this bylaw,” says Lambton Shores Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Davis Dagg. “I found 20 separate problems with the bylaw…It is an excuse for over-regulation.”

“I never understood why we were throwing out the old bylaw,” agreed Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriot. “Why couldn’t we tweak it?”

The revised proposed woodlot bylaw is expected to go to council committee for discussion in April.

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