The news still goes on

Speaking with a fellow newspaper publisher elsewhere, we commiserated over the revenue struggles in January and February.

It’s a tale as old as time in this business and, as sure as spring always comes, better times will return. In the meantime, what doesn’t seem to fail in the first weeks of the new year is the necessity and importance of news in most people’s lives.

Sure, there are those who happily ignore the world around them or rely on gossip and social media to stay plugged in, but the vast majority look to credible journalists on subjects that matter. And with good reason.

This week’s edition gives plenty to think about and offers up reasons why the local press is important all year round.

Several stories this week outline Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearings. LPAT has approved at least two applications – one to expand a pit and another approving the hidden quarry near Rockwood. Both issues were contentious and offer examples of why many residents feel unheard when it comes to planning issues.

In the end, LPAT or its predecessor, the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), often seems to side with proponents as opposed to residents.

Zoning and planning issues are often dry subjects, but their impact on the future of a community is profound.

Guelph-Eramosa, along with the hidden quarry decision, was recently handed a lot line adjustment proposal for comment. At the crux of the matter was the potential severance of a smaller parcel, house and out-buildings which were to be considered a small farmstead of 9.5 acres, after the fact.

The concept of severing off the house and a small acreage has been on the go for a while. Basically, large farms, which seem to be the scale at which farming is now profitable, have seen numerous old family farms eviscerated in the name of expediency.

The large remaining tract is theoretically sterilized and usable only for cropping. No buildings are permitted after this type of planning tool is deployed. The remaining smaller acreage and home are typically sold off to write-down the cost of the initial purchase.

Slowly but surely, the rural fabric is changing.

With regularity, there are also zone changes in town to maximize land use or value. Neighbours want to know what the applications are and how that will impact their neighbourhood. Even folks across town have an interest, because we all know precedents set could eventually mean changes on their street.

In Erin, single-use plastic alternatives are being considered. As Mayor Allan Alls indicated, “We’re trying to be a little ahead of the scene and do the proper thing in our own community.”

Rest assured other communities and concerned citizens will follow suit and ask their own council,  “What are you prepared to do?”

Along with these subjects, there are celebrations most weeks of communities caring for itself and its people. Chilifest in Fergus raising $11,000; the Groves gala raising over $300k; Kin Canada celebrating 100 years; a new charitable foundation effort starting in Wellington North – these are all good things about living in Wellington County.

As February coasts into March and hopefully better sales return, it goes without saying how much we appreciate our advertisers who help weather the storm that is January.

The news still goes on.