"When the city arbitrarily and intentionally
the property and takes that equity away, that’s theft."
Letter: Heritage farm threatened by city land grab
One hundred and sixty
years. Eight generations. That’s how long our farm has been in
continuous operation. It is one of the most historically significant
farmsteads in Goulbourn Township. It was a century farm owned by
many generations of the Jinkinson family, and has been farmed by my
family for the last 34 years.
But all this is being
threatened by a land reclassification by the City of Ottawa.
Suddenly, after all these years, they’ve decided that this is
“wetland”, not farmland. Maybe we should be raising ducks, not
This is MY land, not theirs. That’s
why I refused to give them permission to come onto my property to
study it. But instead of taking no for an answer, they rented a
plane and conducted a low level (1000 ft) secret surveillance last
September. Is this an invasion of privacy or what. They did not
inform any of the landowners of their tactics, and only after the
study had been completed and approved for the Ontario Ministry of
Natural Resources, did they invite the affected landowners to an
“information meeting” to discuss their plans. At this point it was
already a done deal. It seems to me that the meeting should have
been held before the study, not after it was completed.
By using three-year-old air photos
and computer “spy-ware”, they claim to have identified the types of
vegetation growing on the land. When asked at the meeting to provide
a list of the species they found, they refused.
These year(s)-old air photos are
obsolete, as we have spent the last three years clearing and
renovating trees knocked down and damaged in the ice storm of ’98.
The landscape is dramatically different now than it was three years
ago. But this is beside the point. They were denied permission to
study my PRIVATE PROPERTY, but they went ahead and did it anyway,
without my knowledge or permission.
There seems to be a
definite feeling amongst these landowners that this
(intended) “land grab” is simply to compensate for all
of the development that has taken place on the existing
wetlands in Stittsville. The Timbermere and Deer Run
subdivisions are two examples, not to mention the
shopping complex at Brown’s Your Independent Grocer. By
establishing “new” wetlands, they hope to relieve some
of the pressure brought upon them.
The area we are talking about
consists of approximately 850 acres, 20 of which are on our farm.
Sixty landowners are affected directly but hundreds more are
affected indirectly by the inevitable devaluation of their
properties. Many of these landowners have invested their life
savings, or have been building a “nest egg” for their retirement
years. With one swipe of their pen, the city has destroyed their
dreams and plans.
I can’t speak for the others, but I
know that we have invested in excess of one million dollars into our
farming operation. If the city thinks we are going to sit back and
let them take it all away, the can think again.
They tell us that existing farming
operations can continue without charge. But we all know that once
the wetland classification has been established, it is only a matter
of time before the nuisance complaints will begin.
Have they no respect for PRIVATE
PROPERTY at all. This is MY land. I bought and paid for it. They
When asked about the obvious
devaluation of our properties, they smugly said there would be no
devaluation. When asked if they were prepared to pay compensation,
they said absolutely not.
What part of “NO” don’t they
understand? How can they sleep at night, knowing they have just
destroyed the lives of sixty families? Their hopes, dreams and plans
have suddenly been erased.
Many of these landowners have built
up considerable equity in their property. When the city arbitrarily
and intentionally devalues the property and takes that equity away,
There seems to be a definite
feeling amongst these landowners that this (intended) “land grab” is
simply to compensate for all of the development that has taken place
on the existing wetlands in Stittsville. The Timbermere and Deer Run
subdivisions are two examples, not to mention the shopping complex
at Brown’s Your Independent Grocer. By establishing “new” wetlands,
they hope to relieve some of the pressure brought upon them.
There is a revolution growing
amongst the rural landowners in this province. Rural landowners have
had it up to here with all of the bureaucratic interference and red
tape. They have been pushed to the limit.
Those of you who are history buffs
will recall that the American Civil War was fought over this very
issue. The North tried to take the land from the South, and one of
the bloodiest battles in history resulted, pitting friend against
friend and brother against brother. Don’t think it can’t happen here
because it can. Taking a man’s land is about as serious as you can
The city officials tell us that our
land will not drop in value. If you believe that then you’ll believe
anything. They tell us that we can’t reclassify or develop our own
land without their approval but that they can reclassify our land
without our approval. That’s hardly fair.
Three weeks ago on April11, 2005
the Council of Agusta Township passed a resolution amending its
Zoning by-law and Official Plan. The resolution stated: “Whereas an
individual cannot re-designate or rezone the use of his/her private
property without written consent and approval of the municipality,
it is a fundamental requirement that the municipality not rezone or
designate the use and opportunities of private land without the
landowner’s prior written approval and consent. This principal can
only be abridged for the public good, with fair, just and timely
This concept is being pursued in
all jurisdictions throughout the province of Ontario. The rights of
property owner must be respected. It is THEIR property, not the
There should be no reclassification
without the owner’s approval, and if reclassification occurs, then
fair and just compensation should be paid to the owner.
It is my contention that this
wetland evaluation is seriously flawed.
To consider classifying 20 acres of
active farmland, land that is dry the majority of the farming
season, as a provincially significant wetland is preposterous. Our
cattle graze this land, including the alleged “wetland” throughout
the summer season. This land has produced one of the top Herford
herds in Ontario, including a Royal Winter Fair Grand Champion. It
has been in continuous operation for 160 years.
The city is dead wrong in their
pursuit of this reclassification and should do the right and
honourable thing by stopping it right now before it goes any
They have a greater responsibility
to their constituents than they do to the provincial government.
They tell us that they can’t and that they must do the province’s
Well, as far as I can see, if they
can’t DO anything, then why do we need them?