2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Landowner's reforestation efforts help drainage, but assessment of costs sticks

In 1979, Max Iland purchased an "abandoned farm property" and in 1980 he began to forest the lands under an agreement with the Province of Ontario.  He initially planted 50,000 seedlings.  Although his land is low and wet, and it was hard to grow the seedlings, he now has trees that are over 40 feet tall.  He continues to regularly plant additional seedlings and the reforestation of his land has dramatically reduced the need for drainage of his property, resulting in up to a 50% reduction in surface runoff.

Accordingly, Iland felt that he should not be assessed for a share of the costs of a local drain petitioned by the MTO - the Headrick Drain.  The drainage report was initiated by a petition submitted by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) under Section 4 of the Drainage Act to provide drainage for a portion of the new Highway 17 in the Geographic Township of MacDonald, now part of the Municipal Corporation of Macdonald Meredith & Aberdeen Additional. The municipality appointed the Engineer in August 2007. The Engineer conducted site meetings on October, 30, 2007 and May 15, 2008, determined the "area requiring drainage" and subsequently prepared a report dated October 31, 2008 (the Report). The Report provided for deepening of the existing drain channel, brushing, culvert adjustments and erosion protection. The watershed comprises 360 hectares some of which is under agricultural production of hay, cereal grains, produce and berries.

Mr. Iland is the owner of two properties at the easterly upstream limit of the Headrick Drain watershed.  The Report assessed the two properties Outlet for 2.0 hectares and 23.0 hectares, corresponding to $170 and $990 respectively.

On appeal, the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Tribunal accepted Mr. Iland's argument that reforestation of his land does in fact result in up to a 50% reduction of surface water runoff, and commended him for his reforestation efforts. However, the Tribunal did not accept Mr. Iland's argument that the drain is of no benefit to his lands. By his own admission, he agreed that the runoff due to reforestation would result in a reduction of surface water of about 50% as compared to grassed or agricultural lands. The Engineer testified that he had already applied a 50% reduction in the assessment of Mr. Iland's lands to account for reduced runoff caused by the tree cover. Accordingly, the Tribunal did not order any changes to Mr. Iland's assessments.

Read the decision at: Headrick Drain.