UCPR council reviews Boisés Est storm recovery aid request

Par Raymond Berthiaume
UCPR council reviews Boisés Est storm recovery aid request
Boises Est

During its January 26 session, the United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR) voted to consider a resolution at its next meeting concerning funding for a proposed storm recovery project proposed last December by Boisé Est and The Maple Syrup Producers Association (MSPA) through its Eastern region local. The two organizations represent woodlot owners and operators of sugar maple plantations throughout the Eastern Ontario region.

Boisés Est and the MSPA want the UCPR to contribute $75,000 in support funding to help begin a cleanup and replantation program for woodlots that suffered damaged from the windstorm that swept across Eastern Ontario and Western Québec over the May 2022 long weekend.

The windstorm, also known as a derecho because of the severity and intensity of its high winds, left a swathe of destruction in its wake with downed and broken power lines, trees toppled onto roads, and damaging farm buildings and houses in many rural areas of the two provinces.

Cleanup after the storm continues in some parts of the two provinces as many woodlot owners look at replanting their lands to try and raise a new generation of trees for their forestry and maple sugar producing operations. Some local beekeeping operations have also suffered from the storm with hives damaged and some flowered areas ruined where bees would go to collect nectar for making honey.

The Ford provincial government promised disaster aid funding in the aftermath of the storm. But Boisés Est spokesman Jean Saint-Pierre has told UCPR council and media that his group has failed to get any confirmation from Queen’s Park of help for woodlot owners. Newly-elected Progressive Conservative MPP Stéphane Sarrazin has also made inquiries and reported to Boisés Est that the local woodlot owners may not qualify for aid under the provincial government’s disaster relief program.

Now Boisés Est and the MSPA want to set up a program to assist woodlot owners and maple syrup producers with cleanup of their storm-damaged lands and start work on replanting damaged tree plantations sites. The two groups ask the UCPR to provide $75,000 in support funds for the program.

Following the original presentation by Boisés Est and MSPA on the project proposal, UPCR council directed administration to review the potential legal implications to the counties in using taxpayer funds for a project that aids local private businesses. UCPR council expects to have administration’s report and recommendation on the issue at its February session.

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