Woodlot will offset summit emissions

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 6:30:44 EDT PM

SIMCOE – Norfolk County is going to help the world’s major economic powers live up to their rhetoric about environmental protection.

Whenever the G7 group of nations gather for a summit, they inevitably have something to say about working together to protect the planet from environmental degradation.

And just as predictably, critics take swipes at G7 members for talking a good game while creating a gigantic carbon footprint travelling to and from these meetings.

In advance of the G7’s 44th annual summit in Quebec this June, organizers have become proactive and are moving to defuse the criticism before it begins.

In partnership with the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association and Global Affairs Canada, Norfolk council this week agreed to plant four acres of forest as part of a symbolic international effort to offset the carbon emissions created by this spring’s summit.

The project involves four acres of marginal land in the Judd Industrial Park in the northwest corner of Simcoe.

Chris Baird, Norfolk’s general manager of economic development and heritage, says the area’s low-lying topography makes it an expensive challenge to develop for industrial purposes. The land has stormwater retention and drainage issues that potential buyers would find unattractive.

“Servicing that land would be particularly expensive,” Baird said at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“It would be a formidable area to develop and is near a (municipal) wellhead protection zone.”

The federal government and the national biosphere reserves association will pay for the trees and the labour required to plant them.

In exchange, participating communities have to provide the land, retain ownership of the land, and maintain the trees for at least 50 years.

The trees planted must be appropriate for the surrounding ecology. The projects must feature an educational component for young people and promote the principles of sustainable logging.

Norfolk County will undertake the project in partnership with the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation.

“This is taking out unproductive industrial land that would be difficult to do anything with,” said Simcoe Coun. Peter Black.

“In return, we’re getting four acres of woodlot for all the right environmental reasons.”

The parcel in question is located at the north end of Luscombe Drive. The Toyotetsu auto parts manufacturing facility on Park Road is located to the east while the Delhi Rail Trail passes to the north.

In his report, Norfolk forestry supervisor Adam Biddle said the project is a good one because the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has yet to approve expanded industrial land inventories in Delhi and Courtland.

Norfolk council approved the expansions to accommodate new investments at Scotts Canada on Highway 59 in Delhi and Titan Trailers on Highway 3 in Courtland.

The ministry has told Norfolk it wants to see industrial land retired elsewhere in the county to accommodate the expansions in Delhi and Courtland. Norfolk has found some industrial land to rezone but not an amount equivalent to the expansions.

Port Rowan Coun. Noel Haydt isn’t enthusiastic about the tree-planting. If Norfolk wants to plant four acres of woodlot, Haydt said the county should do it under the auspices of the Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) program.

That way, Haydt said Norfolk would collect revenue for providing environmental benefits and not encumber the county with a 50-year covenant freezing the trees in place.

Along with Canada, members of the G7 group of nations include the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan and Italy.

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