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Feature Article - September 1, 2005

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Feature Article

September 1, 2005

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Gray MerriamLegaleseGeneral information and opinion on legal topics by Rural Legal ServicesNature Reflectionsby Jean GriffinNight Skiesby Leo Enright

Letters to the Editor

Waterfront Taxes - the Hidden Nightmare

The debate over waterfront taxation is missing one very important point: if taxes rise to the point where only the very wealthy can afford the family cottage it is very likely we'll see increasing numbers of powerful boats, personal watercraft and even amphibious aircraft. Meanwhile the cottages themselves will increasingly be renovated into lavish year-round homes, placing an even greater strain on the lake and the environment.


Many waterfront properties are family cottages acquired when property values were low and carefully nurtured, often in their original designs, for generation after generation. Now that the baby boom generation is facing retirement it is more than possible that a dramatic boost in property taxes will force many retired or semi-retired owners to sell.

It may be convenient to think of waterfront owners as 'rich' and 'able to pay' but if the responsible ones are forced to sell to people with deep pockets we'll soon have the madness of Muskoka in the Land of Lakes. Personally, I'd rather have quiet neighbors who enjoy an early morning canoe ride on a calm lake than high speed watercraft, loud parties and monster homes.

It is time to support waterfront property owners because if we're forced to sell you can bet your peace and quiet that you won't like the people who buy our cottages.

Jim Bradley

Re: Line Fences Act isn’t the only obstacle to Rails to Trails

I was appalled at the tone of your editorial on August 18 re trails. To deal with your concerns in sequence:

Liability? Many jurisdictions in the U.S. (a more litigious society) and a few in Canada have legislation that protects the owners of both the land on which a recreational trail runs, and adjoining lands, virtually absolutely. These governments have

recognized the enormous public benefits of trails.

Fences? All that is needed is to abolish the 100 % rule, and make the regular provisions of boundary fences apply. One decision of the Ontario Referee found this to be the reasonable solution in the circumstances. If this is followed, only where fences are truly needed would they be built.

Bridges? There was an offer two years ago that these could all be rebuilt by professional engineers, at no cost to the municipalities. This offer might be able to be revived.

Surveys? If a municipality purchases the rail bed, there are provisions in the current legislation such that surveys would only necessary in a few specific areas.

ATVs? This could be the major concern. However, if the municipality owns a trail, it can control by by-law when, and what parts of a trail are available for ATVs. Sections could be designated as available, whereas built-up areas could be off limits. Peer pressure can be effective; also, legitimate trail use cuts down rapidly on the abuses.

The Provincial government has a committee examining these problems. I urge the Central Frontenac Council to send a resolution to Toronto supporting the establishment of recreational trails, by abolishing the 100% cost rule on fences, and also abolishing the right to sue landowners where the land is used for a recreational trail. Your children and grandchildren will thank you.

K.E.B. Cartwright

MOE, MPP and Us

Shortly after Leona Dombrowsky was appointed Minister of the Environment, I published an open letter to her in the News. I suggested that a low cost measure that she could take to significantly improve the performance of MOE would be to remove the ministerial discretion that can excuse violators of all the existing laws against damaging the environment. The Minister did not accept the challenge.

The Sierra Legal Defence Fund (an environmental-legal support group unrelated to the Sierra Club) has used the Freedom of Information Act to reveal numbers of violations of Ontario's water pollution laws in 2002 and 2003. There were 2500 violations over the two years resulting in the release of over 5,000,000 litres of pollutants. In 2002, 16 industrial facilities had 10 or more violations and one, the "Chinook Group" had 555 violations. In 2003, one offender, "Stepan Canada", had 221 violations.

One has to wonder how many of these offences escaped punishment because of that ministerial discretion that is still available to the Minister of the Environment? As long as ministerial discretion is widespread in Provincial Ministries, can the public really know what protection we have from existing laws?

Gray Merriam

Liberal foreign policies

I have long been offended by the Liberal government’s foreign policy of providing aid to China – something like a billion dollars over the last 10 years, and $50 million planned for this year alone. China is a brutally repressive communist state that has been consistently condemned worldwide for its human rights abuses. There are many nations where aid is critically needed and deserved – and where it would be used effectively to help improve the quality life of its citizens. China however is not such a nation.

Now we learn that China has become a major financial benefactor of the barbarous and corrupt regime in Zimbabwe! This is unconscionable and we should be hearing the Government of Canada expressing its outrage and immediately terminating all aid to China. But we hear nothing from Paul Martin or his Department of Foreign Affairs. This is shameful, and can only further erode our now slim international reputation.

Paul Martin’s silence makes all Canadians complicit in propping up Zimbabwe’s abusive regime. Marin and his Liberals claim to speak for Canadians – rather, they shame us.

Frank Kimmett

Flying our flag

Recently I read a statement by Ernie Jukes: “Our red and white flag represents us around the world as a people and country that promotes tolerance and peace by negotiation – not confrontation. It represents trust. We are the true North, strong and free. Our flag stands for many traits including its place as liberator of the oppressed – becoming greater as we grow – fly it proudly.”

This is so true, and I was disappointed to only see three or four flags in all our villages. Come on, folks, we live in the second most wonderful country in the world!! Show our pride and thankfulness – fly our flag!

Mary Howes

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