Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
July 23, 2024
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Letters May 1

Fawcettville's Butternuts, Doctor Poaching, and more
<p>(Jed Tallo/GazetteStaff)</p>
(Jed Tallo/GazetteStaff)

Fawcettville’s Butternuts 

Re: “Fawcettville,” (April 24). It is sad to think that all it takes is money to destroy 16 endangered butternut trees, a species which sustained early pioneers with their sweet nuts.

I am not against building houses, which are sorely needed by those who require a roof over their heads. Subdivisions are sprouting up like mushrooms around the County’s towns and the world is changing. I get that.

What I don’t get is the way development follows a worn out strategy of clear and grade. I wonder if it would be possible to revise this way of doing things, perhaps look at the site and see what is there that would benefit the new community being created.

Some of the mature trees could be incorporated into a community park. The benefits of mature trees far outweigh those of the small trees that will be planted to replace them. Mature trees reduce the surrounding temperature by 10 degrees. This could be a matter of life or death for residents in a heatwave. Trees purify the air, provide shade, help in flood control and have proven health benefits. 

As things stand, developers want to get maximum dollar out of every square inch, but trees have a role in increasing property values. It is time to end subdivision communities with handkerchief-sized parks, often doing double duty as storm drains or detention ponds. Let’s rethink development with a view to  the future, especially mitigating climate change and preserving as many trees as possible around our towns.

Susan Banks, Picton

Shoot the Messenger

Re: “Fawcettville” (April 24). A recent Gazette story about a coming housing development in Fawcettville reads, “An Environmental Assessment found 16 mature butternut trees in the woodlot that are subject to environmental protections. The developer would have to pay a fine for cutting them down.” 

It continues, “‘The majority of the trees will be removed’, a rep from Fotenn Consultants confirmed.” 

While I’m not disputing that the operative meaning of “subject to environmental protection” in Ontario is, “completely unprotected, but subject to (small) fees for destruction,” this is actually a travesty.

To read it reported as though the developer having to pay a fine for cutting down trees is simply what “subject to environmental protections” actually means, to read the confirmation from the developer that, yes, they do plan to break the law, reported as though that’s a completely acceptable practice in the County and does not even require a comment is completely horrifying.

It is the opposite of journalistic integrity to subvert the true meaning of language and gloss over developers’ indifference to anything but profit.

Rosalind Adams, Milford

Doctor Poaching

On April 23rd, Shire Hall did the right thing. Council approved a crucial Memorandum of Understanding between the County and Belleville, Brighton, Quinte West and Hastings to curb any poaching of each others’ doctors.

This agreement is incredibly important given the effort and investment of each of these Quinte Region municipalities in getting and keeping vital family physicians.

Poaching doctors is not a new concern.

The Canadian Medical Journal and the Health Council of Canada tackled this issue in the context of poaching foreign doctors from strapped Third World Counties, calling it “unethical,” essentially foreign aid in reverse.

The head of the Ontario Hospital Association also chided doctor poaching. He noted that Ontario hospitals should not lose primary healthcare professionals to a burgeoning system of private (and costly) clinics.

But have we, as a community, given enough thought to the potential impact of poaching doctors from desperately underserved and under-staffed Northern, fly-in, Indigenous, and poorer rural Ontario communities? 

British Columbia is wrestling with that kind of inequitable healthcare now, even calling for an audit of its own Northern Health Authority.

The World Health Organization paints a similar bleak picture. It notes that remote locations have more than double the healthcare professional vacancies of wealthier and more developed areas. 

Does such potential poaching from the poor in Ontario run counter to Canada’s vaunted principles of equitable and universal healthcare? Of course, there are no easy answers. To the credit of our excellent County staff, they have given this conundrum a good think.

Investing in local nurses and more Nurse Practitioners is an approach Alberta has taken. Speeding up the accreditation of well-trained foreign medical professionals who are already in Canada, driving taxis and cleaning office buildings, might be another. The Canadian Medical Association is worried about family doctors who work over 50 hours a week, with only 36 of those hours spent caring for patients. The rest go to paperwork.

Doing the correct thing for the Quinte Region is unarguably essential.

It also gives pause for thought regarding the bigger picture as well.

Bill Roberts, Councillor for Sophiasburg 

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 18 edition of The Picton Gazette
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