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Extra work, expense for 'most farmers' who don't live on site
to the editor,
Robert Kirkpatrick's letter is a prime example of the lack of
understanding of the issues with the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) that
affect our area differently than other areas.
As far as crop spraying, he has greatly oversimplified the
issue. It's not an issue of seeing a sprayer and a person turning
around. There are re-entry periods with many of these chemicals that
can be up to two days long. Just because you don't see the sprayer in
action does not mean it's safe to re-enter the area.
Much of the land being traversed is planted in potatoes and
other root vegetables. These crops are sprayed on almost a weekly basis
and different farms spray on different days. This would create sections
of the trail being cut off at various points throughout the growing
season, which would also be the main TCT use season. That would also
require gates be put up to keep people out until it is safe to re-enter
and someone to go out and open them when it is safe. Most of these
fields are not worked by the people that live on the farms, which means
farmers would have to travel back out and re-open the gates, extra work
and expense for the farmers.
To say that making the trail public would keep off motorized
vehicles is ridiculous. They will continue to use it, and the removal
of existing barricades will allow them even easier access. I have seen
sections of the Bruce Trail on the way to Owen Sound and there is a
beaten path made by 4-wheelers around the trail gates which are
complete with signage prohibiting motorized vehicles. To think this
area would be any different, and especially to think that trail users
will be able to police it any better than the land owners have been
able to thus far is ridiculous to say the least.
As far as cost, while costing has been done for initial
building the trail, which I think has been greatly underestimated
itself, there is also going to be maintenance costs. We live along the
rail corridor, it bisects our farm and I know that it is thick with
poison ivy and other noxious weeds (as defined in the noxious weed act).
When we had Parks and Rec representatives out a few years ago
to discuss all the issues we were having with people using the trail to
access our property, bother our livestock, and a myriad of other
issues, we asked them about their obligations under the weed act to
control the ones on their property to keep them from spreading
constantly onto ours. We were told that it would cost thousands a year
just to look after the weed control in our section and the Town was not
prepared to do that. If it's that much just for the section that
crosses our farm, I'd shudder to think how much it would be for 20+ kms.
I would assume that with the public, including children, using
the trail, there would be a need to control the noxious weeds along it.
That is not even touching on maintenance of fences, picking up litter
and other issues that would arise.
Those occasionally using the trail recreationally cannot possibly
understand what it is like to actually live along it. Just because
someone who spends a couple of hours a month on it has never come
across a problem does not mean they don't exist. When you live on the
rail line and have people trespassing, feeding your animals over the
fence, leaving litter behind, flying through on motorized vehicles and
creating biosecurity concerns, then you can understand the issues.
I believe we are one of the only farms that actually has
livestock that abuts right onto the right of way and we have very
legitimate concerns regarding the spread of disease to our animals from
trail users, especially when they feel the need to interact with our
animals directly over the fences.
To say this area is the same as the other areas the trail has
gone through without issue just is not true, the type of farming taking
place along this section is different than the wheat and hay fields
that it crosses in most other areas that require minimal maintenance,
and needs to be dealt with differently. This is the farmers'
livelihoods, they have a few months a year to get their work done, and
time is money, delays in spraying or extra trips back to fields because
of the trail affect their bottom line.