A current bylaw to preserve woodlots across Chatham-Kent should get plenty of discussion at the Chatham-Kent Council meeting Monday night.
Ward 3 Councillor Steve Pinsonneault introduced a Notice of Motion September 11, 2023 giving his colleagues a heads up he was going to bring the issue forward for debate and a vote.
Pinsonneault wants the temporary clear-cutting bylaw that currently prevents the cutting of trees that was implemented on April 26, 2021 with no end date to come to an end and the Natural Heritage Strategy reinstated.
However, Ward 5 Councillor Aaron Hall gave notice on September 18, 2023 that he wants the tree cutting bylaw to remain in place until the Natural Heritage Committee of the Whole makes recommendations to Council and councillors repeal it and approve new regulations to conserve woodlots.
Hall cited the committee's work is not done and wants further dialogue, consultation, and feedback.
Hall is asking Council to direct administration to create a schedule and work plan to carry-on with the work of the committee and have that schedule return to Council for consideration by January 2024, adding the work by the committee must pick up where it left off when it was paused in March 2022.
"Council has committed to leading by example to reduce our climate footprint, enhancing community resiliency to climate change impacts, and also preserving natural heritage," said Hall.
He added having a clear-cutting bylaw in place since April of 2021 has proven to be effective in deterring clear-cutting activities, while natural heritage policy discussions have taken place across the community.
"Historically having natural heritage conversations in a public forum, without a clear-cutting regulation in place, has proven to be detrimental to Chatham-Kent’s natural heritage, resulting in clear-cutting activities," Hall said.
The Kent Federation of Agriculture (KFA) has said hesitancy with the bylaw is causing uncertainty for farmers because they have obligations to meet with banks and purchases.
The KFA has been asking for more consultation because, as landowners, it felt farmers were left out of the consultation process done in 2013, adding the last consultation process lacked actual science.