• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Large scale solar is a huge error

In Energy
Jan 28th, 2011

Letter from Cindy Hillard Severn Township January 28 2011
re: Simcoe Solar Farm Awareness Project Symposium – this Saturday, 11am-1pm.
The Ontario government is making a huge error in contracting large scale solar “farms”. This issue is not just about the sites within Severn Township. In total, 800 acres of good farmland will be lost in Simcoe County and 1,000’s of acres across Ontario. Less than 13% of Ontario is farmland. There are many alternatives for solar energy. There is no reason for any farmland to be used for solar.
There are many existing government policies and initiatives which address our growing need for access to healthy food and water for all. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is a partner in The Severn Sound Sustainability Plan.
Their “Building Healthy Communities” Initiative encourages residents in all townships to work with municipalities to help implement the Plan. Their fact sheet states, “Municipalities show leadership when …they adopt land use policies that protect agricultural land suitable for growing food.” and, “In the last 30 years about 2 million hectares of land formerly used for growing food have been shifted to other uses”.
So lets think carefully about how we will move forward. We have to create a balance.
The City of Orillia and surrounding Townships have made a commitment to endorse the Severn Sound Sustainability Plan. The Plan includes the support for renewable energy projects. However, the Plan also includes support for local agriculture, protecting farmland, encouraging organic farming and local farmer’s markets.
I would like to suggest that both projects can be encouraged and implemented. Microfit small scale solar projects of 10 kw’s or less are good. They can be installed on rooftops of homes and barns or along fence lines. None of it needs to cover productive land for growing food. Even pasture feeds livestock, which provides us with our local meats.
Local farmers are struggling under more and more regulations, making it increasingly difficult for the small scale farm to survive. A local abattoir, more affectionately known as Dan The Chicken Man, has been shut down. Will poultry farmers give up? Will local chicken and turkey will disappear as the peaches did in Niagara, when the canneries were shut down?
It is imperative that municipalities and residents show their support for local farmers. They can start by protecting farmland, and then proceed by opposing strict government regulations not suitable for small scale operations, and finally, promote and purchase local produce and meats.
The Simcoe Solar Farm Awareness Project is hosting a symposium on “The Importance of Preserving Agricultural Land From Large Scale Solar Facilities”.  The symposium is this Saturday, January 29th at the Coldwater Community Centre from 11am to 1pm.  We need your support to challenge The Green Energy Act, and save farmland for healthy local accessible food for present and future generations.
All are welcome. Hope to see you there,

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