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Feature artcle, February 17, 2005

Letters February 17, 2005

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Thank you Safe Drinking Waer Association

We have no doubt that most of your readers are familiar with the controversy between the residents of Sydenham and South Frontenac Council regarding the proposed municipal water system. It seems at the present time that bureaucracy has won over the wishes of the people and democracy no longer reigns supreme in the village of Sydenham. All the reasoned arguments, proof of blatant errors in the environmental report, petitions, water tests which showed that only a small number of properties actually have contaminated wells , etc. etc. have disappeared into the black hole named the council chamber.


The purpose of this letter is to offer a belated, but sincere thank you to the members of the Sydenham Safe Water Committee. They have volunteered untold hours of work and worry with no gain to themselves, except for the knowledge that they have contributed a great deal to their community. We would like to especially thank Mr. Richard Munroe, chairman of the committee, who has continued on in spite of much unwarranted criticism and shocking disrespect from members of council. One member in particular has the temerity to walk out of the council meeting whenever Mr. Munroe is to make a presentation. This person may not be in agreement with what is being said, but as an elected official he should remain to hear it. Otherwise, how can he make an informed decision on the subject? It is also extremely rude. In spite of petitions showing otherwise, it has often been said by council that there are only a half dozen people in the village who are against the proposed water project, referring of course to the SSWA.A recent petition presented at the last council meeting, shows irrefutably that this is not true. Of the 253 properties involved, 223 were contacted and of these, 215 signed the petition. 96% in fact. Yes, 96%!! I think respect and consideration should be paid to such glaringly obvious facts and figures and also to the person who presents them.

This project is going to cause unnecessary financial hardship to most people in our village with no advantage gained. There are other methods of treating contaminated wells without forcing chlorinated water on the whole population. The tragedy at Walkerton, which seems to have triggered this whole episode, was caused by a municipal water system failure, not by individual wells. We hate to think of that happening here. As far as we are able to discover, there have been no deaths due to contaminated well water in this area, or, in fact, anywhere in Ontario.

As relative newcomers to this area, we have been very happy to meet a lot of friendly and helpful people, but are uncomfortable in the way that this and the previous council have consistently ignored the wishes of the people they are supposed to represent. It is beyond our comprehension that council members have insisted on going ahead with this project and would ask them, in all sincerity, the reason why.

- Rosalie and George Knights.

Fishing Derby season is upon us again. Are these events innocuous or do they harm our fisheries?

A day on the ice can be very enjoyable, and to bring a few fish home for dinner is a bonus. If anglers limit their catch, they help conserve fisheries. Fishing tournaments, though, can be counterproductive to conserving fisheries.

Derbies concentrate fishing effort on certain lakes and higher pressure means more fish can be caught. If the fishing happens to be good and there are a lot of people fishing, many individuals of the spawning population of certain species (e.g. walleye) could be harvested. Successful spawning seasons are required to sustain good fisheries.

There are also problems related to keeping large fish, the goal of derbies. Larger fish of a species are often female and these fish are important spawners.

Also, larger fish, as illustrated in the Ministry of Environment's Guide to Eating Sport Fish, contain higher levels of naturally occurring mercury, so consumption of these fish should be limited or avoided altogether.

So, to help maintain the health of your lake and you, limit your catch, keep smaller (younger) fish for dinner and quickly and gently release the big fish back to the lake to spawn. And be creative with derbies: try using categories that don't negatively impact your environment.

- Bud Praskey, Big Clear Lake Steward

Dumping the Garbage

Last fall, a quick look through South Frontenac garbage revealed some basics. An average household sends almost half a tonne (about 1000 pounds) to the dump yearly.

The volume of that garbage is greater seasonally because almost 1/3 of it (over 300 pounds) is organic waste that could have been composted or just allowed to rot down someplace on the property.

Mixed in with that is over 300 pounds of material that could have been recycled -- paper, glass, tin, aluminium and recyclable plastics.

So only about 1/3 of the garbage going to the dump needs to go there, even with the limitations of our simple recycling program. And if we look in that 1/3 of our non-recyclable, non-compostable garbage, there surely is even more that does not really need to be there, such as excessive plastic grocery bags -- some stores take them back, cloth bags avoid them.

The simple lesson is that if 2/3 of our garbage does not need to be in the dump, the dump could be only 1/3 as full as it is and it would not be forced to close so soon. Regardless of our attitudes, the dumps are going to be closed, and the order will come down sooner if we fill them up sooner with garbage that could be avoided.

But the difficulty does not all arise with the taxpayers. The process needs work by the Municipality, too. Arriving at the dump to be told that some recycling bin or other is full and we should just "throw it on the dump" indicates bad management of contractors or attendants. Different lists of materials that are allowed to be recycled, presented to users by the Municipality, the attendants and the contractors also points to the need for greater attention to the program.

In bear country, dumps with smelly food containers will attract bears. Warning signs are an incomplete response. Educational information also is needed. Lanark Highlands, with Ministry of Natural Resources help, provides copies of 'Bear Wise' with the tax bill. Information about both bears and the waste management program is provided.

Garbage is not just a messy business to be avoided. We all are involved and we all pay the bills to deal with garbage as a 'public utility ' component of our society. We all need to take a rational, long-term approach to garbage that considers costs, environmental impacts and basic problems of consumerism in our society. Gray Merriam

2005 Taxes - An open letter to Central Frontenac Council

Escalating township taxes are hurting the people of Central Frontenac. For the average residential property taxpayer, they have increased by more than 60% over the last three years. What can we expect this year?

We cannot look to an expansion of the commercial tax base for relief. While it is encouraging to see the enthusiasm with which members of the Business Development Committee are approaching their task and we look forward to future benefits, it would be unrealistic to expect this initiative to yield any significant relief for the residential tax payer in the foreseeable future. The commercial sector contributed 1.8% of the township's tax revenue in 2004 - even a doubling of the commercial tax base would reduce residential taxes by only 2%.

Neither can we expect any meaningful increase in contributions and grants received from higher levels of government.

The only way another large increase can be avoided is for you, our Mayor and Councillors, to limit township spending. You need to take a very hard look, as you set this year's budget, at priorities and at the efficiency of township operations.

At your January 25th meeting, you embarked on the 2005 budget by asking staff for their proposals. No financial constraints were imposed so that you will hear what staff believe should be done. This is as it should be - it is your responsibility to set priorities and take the tough decisions. However, as you review these proposals, you must heed the advice of Councillor Frances Smith to hold the line. She is obviously well aware that we cannot tolerate another tax increase.

During your budget debate last year, a number of you felt there was insufficient time to discuss various tax saving proposals presented for consideration and that, even if implemented, they would be starting too late to have much effect on that year's spending. We were pleased to learn that, with your first budget meeting set for March 1, you have given yourselves more time this year. We trust that you will use this time to explore and discuss all possible means of avoiding another tax increase. Take a hard, firsthand look at township operations to ensure that objectives are being met in the most efficient manner - look for ways to reduce costs.

We appreciate the pressures imposed on you by the provincial downloading of responsibilities to municipalities; we believe that you appreciate the hardships township tax increases have placed on us, the people of Central Frontenac. These hardships must be your paramount consideration as you set the 2005 budget. Our incomes have not risen 60% over the last three years. We do not have bottomless pockets. As individuals we cannot do everything we want to; we have to limit our activities to what we can afford. We expect our township council to do likewise. You owe this to those who elected you.

- Michael Wise

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