SUBMITTED BY SAL FLORIO.
I am writing to you regarding your “Resident’s speak out on official plan” article in your paper of Feb. 28, 2019.
I am a small farmer in NOTL with 7.9 acres.
What you reported in the article is very upsetting to me and I am sure others in similar situations.
Allow me to explain.
What the big wineries and Ms. Zimmerman are doing is lobbying the Town to prevent further competition from entering into the industry. They cry that many of them are not profitable or as profitable as they would like to be. But does that not apply to all industries? Some businesses make money and some do not and end up closing. The government does not get involved and limit/prevent more businesses like them from opening new ventures!
I am in agreement that in order to use the word “estate” in describing your winery you should possess a certain amount of land. However, I do not see the rationale for a small farmer requiring 10 acres in order to be a farm winery. What is the rationale for this other than preventing small farmers from adding more competition for the large wineries.
Why 10 acres? Where did this number come from? Someone just pulled it out of a hat! Why not five acres? This would make more sense as in order to be classified a farm on the tax roll you must farm more than five acres. Also, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will grant you a winery license if you have more than five acres with grapes. Why not bring all of this into alignment?
Ms. Zimmerman should stick to looking after us growers and not lobby on behalf of the wineries. After all the name of the organization she represents is the Grape Growers of Ontario. If a small grower like myself wishes to diversify to make their operation more economically viable for their family, why is she standing in their way and asking for restriction?
The Consultants report clearly states that the Town needs to be more flexible towards small farmers in order to provide them with the ability to diversify and offer alternative farm products to make them economically viable. Imposing restrictions like those Ms. Zimmerman and the existing wineries are calling for will not achieve this; it will only once again show how the political and big business machine really works!
The Town and its elected officials are put there to look after the taxpayers and make decisions for the good of the taxpayers and the Town. Until someone explains to me in detail how imposing a 10 acre restriction on farm wineries is a good thing for the Town and its small farmers, I will have no option but to believe this is nothing but people looking after their own best interests and not what they are paid and/or elected to do!
I have written to both the Lord Mayor and Ms. Zimmerman asking them for the rationale and benefits these restrictions would provide. To date, I have received no response.
I hope you will provide the small farmer a fair representation on this issue in you paper.