Political and bureaucratic abuses appear leading to rural backlash

100-plus landowners assert their basic right to "quiet enjoyment" of their land

Meeting attendees appear to have had their fill of politicians who don't represent their interests and bureaucrats who have lost all perspective on serving the public who pay their salaries.

RCOC Reporter
August 16, 2005

A gathering of 100-plus concerned and angry citizens turned up for a "Landowners' Meeting" in the Richmond Memorial Hall, Tuesday night.

Tony Walker, President of the Goulbourn Landowners Group open the meeting with a brief history of the underhanded way in which the lands of some sixty property owners was "turned over" to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) and the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), for assessment as wetlands, two years before the affected landowners were told.

Tony Walker chaired meeting


Large gathering turned out to compare stories of property rights abuses.

Councillor Stavinga, of Goulbourn Ward-6 --who freely admits to starting the ball rolling in her capacity as Vice-Chair of the RVCA-- seems to forget that it is the ratepayers who pay her salary, not the RVCA.

Tony says the situation is made doubly worse because much of the wetland-designated property is really dry land that in most cases has been flooded by the city's own mismanaged drainage practices.

Terry Hale, owner of Applewood Farms on Fernbank Road, backed Tony's assessment of the situation, adding that no one is against "true wetlands" and that many landowners are better environmentalists than the politicians and government bureaucrats that are interfering. He clarified, though, "There are authentic wetlands and there are contrived wetlands. They're trying to use city drainage deficiencies as an excuse to re-designate our previously dry lands into new 'contrived wetlands'."

"That's not right or ethical," he asserted.

Terry Hale, of Applewood Farms
Terry also maintains that the application of "complexing" in this case is an example of, "the city abusing the concept."  He added that the "sneaky tactic of fly-overs was just plain wrong," as well.

Mr. Hale believes that, rather than encourage and reward continued good land stewardship, the city's unethical tactics are an inducement for residents to fight back, by stripping all of their land of any potential wetland vegitation.

Mike Westley, who lives on Flewellyn Road, near the corner of Conley Road has found his seasonal flooding problem to be entirely due to city mismanagement of its ditch water. For the last 16 years or so, he has complained repeatedly to the municipality through his councillor, and every level of the administration he could, to fix the problem. He says that it shouldn't be that complicated to figure out. It's a simple situation where, "Water can't get away as quickly as it's being directed to our area." The city can't seem to be able to connect the dots ...or doesn't want to.  

Mike Westley

Glen Lucas, a highly-respected property tax consultant who owns the firm of "Property Tax Review Services," spoke to the audience about city zoning practices and the property values --and the tax implications of it all. He started by saying that, "One of the worst mistakes one could make, is to assume the city is going to act in a reasonable manner."

He backed up his premise with several horror stories, as evidence, and told the audience that he knows of many landowners who have true wetlands, which they often protect better than the city would. He confirmed that those who suffer from false wetland designations can


suffer an 85% loss in property values along with severe land use restrictions.

Lucas stated that he sold his own wetland property when ministry personnel started telling him where he could, and could not, walk on his own property.

He feels that there should be a compensation structure in place before such designations are made.

Jack MacLaren, prominent West Carleton rural rights backer, and respected farmer, took a few moments to promote his solution to city interference in rural lives, and the city's failure to properly manage rural affairs --"which they know nothing about."

The solution, he states, is in the "re-amalgamation" of the rural component of the former Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, into 'Carleton County', wherein rural residents would be in charge of their own destiny, and could avoid a lot of the waste of tax dollars that is currently occurring within the city.


Jack MacLaren is President of the newly-founded Carleton Landowners' Association.

MacLaren indicated that in the short time since the idea was launched just over two weeks ago, on July 31, (see LINK), he has had an "overwhelming demand" for signs.

Randy Hillier, President and co-founder of the Lanark Landowners Association, or "Rural Revolution" as it is more often named, raised several key points about politicians and bureaucrats who have lost sight of their public service mandate. "People have rights," he says. "Governments have responsibilities."

Hillier said that many government officials have tried to label the landowners' associations as "radicals," but he says whatever they want to call us, we consider it a badge of honour. All we are is an organization of citizens who, "When governments do the wrong thing, we stand up and say 'NO'.


Randy Hillier in action

"We --the people-- tell governments how to behave."

He cited names of several politicians, on all three levels of government, that support land use rights and fair compensation in re-designation cases.

Hillier stated that the upcoming municipal and provincial elections will see a lot more focused support by landowner organizations for electoral candidates who have previously declared their support for landowners' rights.

"Don't be surprised to see Landowners Associations, right across the Province, putting forward their own 'slates' of municipal,  provincial and federal candidates ," he said.

Randy's mission in life is to create awareness of the rights people do have, and may not know about. He says, "the public has to be informed," and encourages citizens to link up with the nearest "Landowners' Association" in their area, (there are now chapters throughout Ontario, and elsewhere), and to post the "Landowners" sign.

He sees definite strength in numbers. "If you want to help yourself, help your neighbour! ...We need to stick together and stay together."

Hillier cited three municipalities, that, through united public pressure and the help of fair-minded politicians, have incorporated landowner rights protection legislation into their bylaws and official plans. "That's a great step forward," he said.

The evening was deemed a great success, by those who are looking for ways to protect their basic rights of quiet enjoyment and use of their land.

Landowners are shocked and affronted by the city's invasiveness, sneakiness, and heavy-handed attacks.


Considerable interest was shown in wall displays of maps and pictures.


Anxious residents ponder arbitrary designations

  Tony Walker mentioned in his presentation that, as far as he knows, the landowners in the 120-metre buffer area surrounding the contrived 'wetland-complex' area, have not yet been notified.

"When is the city intending to bring them into the loop?", he asks.

The city seems to believe it can freely work behind peoples' backs, erasing peoples' life- savings, without any fair notice or compensation.


In his closing remarks, Mr. Walker thanked the media and community organizations who have supported the Goulbourn Landowners Group through this whole affair. He thanked John Curry of The Stittsville News for doing several articles on the subject and for printing their many Letters to the Editor.

He expressed thanks to Karen Secord of Ottawa Valley News for her press coverage, and to the Rural Council for its broad support from the very start of the problem. (see LINK)


Glen Lucas chats with residents at meeting

Lastly, Tony expressed his great appreciation for the support, encouragement and guidance of the Lanark Landowners Association.

The audience expressed their appreciation to the LLA, as well, in the form of hearty applause.

In the lingering discussions after the meeting, it was apparent that the Goulbourn property owners appreciated the time and effort expended by the members of the neighbouring  community of Lanark, to help them learn how to unite, in

Property owners are becoming much more determined to protect their own property rights --from politicians who don't defend or represent them and  bureaucrats who are out-of-control.
order to help put wayward politicians and bureaucrats in their places.

In the words of one attendee, on his way out the door, "All in all, it was a very helpful and informative evening."