Wilson says PCs would review decision to close Angus seed plant if elected
Simcoe-Grey MPP and PC candidate Jim Wilson with Fred Somerville of Somerville Nurseries outside the Ontario Tree Seed Plant in Angus -Alliston Herald photo
Nursery owner concerned about tree availability
by Brad Pritchard Alliston Herald
Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson says the Progressive Conservatives would conduct a “thorough review” of the Liberal government’s decision to shut down the tree seed plant in Angus, if elected to govern the province in June.
Wilson was joined by a crowd of supporters when he made the announcement outside the plant on May 14.
“The Liberal government made this choice with no input and no consultation,” he said. “We need answers about why this happened. We will find out and get to the bottom of this matter.”
Wilson said the PCs would sit down with experts to discuss what could be done to keep the plant open.
“We will be willing to look at alternative business plans and all options to keep open a tree seed plant on this property,” he said.
The move to close the plant this September became public knowledge last August after employees at the historical facility on King Street were told about the impending closure.
The province has said the plant, which employs six people and has operated on the site since 1923, needs to be closed in order to move toward a “more efficient and modern native seed genetic archive.”
“The decision was shocking to many, who didn’t see it coming,” Wilson said.
The province said it expects the private sector will be able to step in to provide the seeds that are grown at the plant, but businesses have pointed out this is not realistic and will require significant new investments on their part.
Industry experts have repeatedly called the move short-sighted and have requested the province delay the closure by three to five years, to allow the tree sector to adjust.
Fred Somerville, owner of Somerville Nurseries in Everett, said his business has relied on the plant since it started up nearly 70 years ago.
“We are extremely concerned here that if seed is not available in this southern Ontario location, then we just don’t know where we are going to get our seed,” he said.
Wilson said the government has yet to provide any details on the new seed archive it plans to build.
Liberal candidate Dan Hambly calls the closure “a bad bureaucratic decision” and promised to reverse the plan if elected as MPP.
Hambly also called out the PC Party on its track record of privatizing reforestation efforts in the 1990s.
“So forgive me, but I find it extremely difficult to believe that the PC party of today, with the massive cuts to spending that they are threatening, has a plan for forestry even if they did keep our plant open,” he added.
Green Party candidate Jesseca Perry believes the province should have held a proper public consultation process before making any decision.
“If I were elected MPP, this would be an issue I would fight for, just like I have since I first heard of the discussions. The tree seed facility must remain open,” she said.
Simcoe.com did not receive a response from NDP candidate Dave Matthews.
Tree seed plant becomes election issue
By Roger Klein CTV News Barrie
Two local candidates are pledging to fight the closure of the tree seed plant in Angus.
Simcoe-Grey Progressive Conservative incumbent Jim Wilson stood outside the gates of the Ontario Tree Seed Plant on Monday, and made his promise to more than a dozen people.
“As long as I’m in office, and for hundreds of years more that this property is preserved, and there be a tree seed plant of some scale here, as long as it’s needed,” Wilson said.
A spokesperson for Doug Ford tells CTV News that the PC leader would reconsider the closure if he is elected.
“Doug Ford stands with his candidate, Jim Wilson, and is committed to reviewing the current government’s plans to close the Ontario Tree Seed Plant in Angus,” says spokesperson Melissa Lantsman.
Liberal candidate Dan Hambly is promising to push to keep the plant open. He says the closure was a “bad bureaucratic decision.”
He finds it “extremely difficult to believe that the PC party of today, with the massive cuts to spending that they are threatening, has a plan for forestry, even if they did keep our plant open.”
Tree seeds from Ontario’s forests have been gathered and sorted at the plant since the 1920s. The Liberal government decided last year the work will soon be turned over to the private sector.
Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says as far as it’s concerned the plant is still scheduled to close in September.