Frank Burke, president of the North Renfrew United Landowners (NRUL), welcomed everyone to a meeting in the Deep River Legion on Wednesday, November 21, 2018. Burke read a letter from Tom Black, Past President of the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA). Black was to have been the guest speaker at the meeting but due to an accident he was unable to attend and speak on his seven years as President of the OLA. He and his wife, Marlene, have been involved with the Landowner cause for fifteen years because of the utter disregard by the government of the day for Property Rights when creating legislation. The OLA was the only real “country” voice that questioned the legislation.

Black stated, “ how successful we were is very hard to measure, but this group of people, were, for the most part, involved to try to preserve the values that have been passed down to us by those who worked and fought to create a country where the individual rights of citizens were supreme. That premise put us against government agencies and arms length organizations, which the government sanctioned. Entry onto private property without permission or warrant can never be condoned in a free society.”

Black continued, ”After a long battle with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), it would seem that we were somewhat successful in having them state that they will no longer be investigating farm animal complaints. This is a definite win, but we will have to be diligent to make sure that what replaces them has due respect built into their mandate to protect animals and people.”

F. Burke updated the audience on the status of the Renfrew County Official Plan. There was a six-hour County Council meeting recently, to discuss the revised Official Plan from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) regarding the designation of land in the County. The MMAH’s proposals were not acceptable to the County, so Warden Jennifer Murphy contacted Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski. Yakabuski contacted Steve Clark, Minister of the MMAH, and was assured this version of Renfrew County’s Official Plan will not go through.

F. Burke and Bess Burke attended the Ottawa Riverkeeper’s Annual General meeting in October. Meredith Brown, Ottawa Riverkeeper, has two main concerns, the first of which is governance of the 144,000 km2 Ottawa River watershed. Brown stated that policies would be developed based on science using best practices. Municipalities would implement the policies.

Brown’s second concern is pollution from radioactive waste at Chalk River Laboratories (CRL).

B. Burke asked MJ Proulx, Director Watershed Network, whether a Conservation Authority would be set up to govern the Ottawa River Watershed. Proulx responded that there would not be a Conservation Authority because landowners in Renfrew County don’t want one.

PlaceSpeak was used for public input on the Ottawa River Watershed. Unlike other traditional polls, surveys and social media, PlaceSpeak connects the participants’ digital identity to their physical location, as well as providing a platform for expressing their views. This ensures that the data collected on a topic is from residents of communities who will be impacted by the decisions that will be made.

Mark Breckon entered comments on behalf of the 14,000 members of the OLA. He stated that more bureaucracy won’t work; people living on the river are the best stewards for the river. Breckon’s goal is a seat at the table for whatever form the governance of the watershed takes. Proulx emailed a report compiling the comments on PlaceSpeak, which showed that most people wanted a “coordinating group” to govern the river shed.

F. Burke attended the recent OLA AGM in Cobourg. The position of President was not filled so Jeff Bogearts will be Interim President until the Spring Directors’ Meeting.

There will be a Special Meeting of Laurentian Hills Council Wednesday, November 28th at 6:30 p.m. to discuss and obtain feedback from residents on Council’s draft Strategic Plan

Mark Breckon