The Ontario Landowners Association. A Year in Review

Published November 1, 2017

It is important to reflect , at this time of year, about the significant differences made by the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA). It is also important to remember that the OLA’s achievements are carried out entirely by volunteers. We have no bricks and mortar head office, no staff, we do not rely on government grants. Our strength comes from the many dedicated people who believe that property rights are paramount to a democratic, prosperous, and caring society. The following is a brief summary of the activities and accomplishments of the OLA Executive for the year November 2016-October 2017. We thank all of the county chapters who helped and supported the OLA in achieving our goals. We could not have done it without you!

Outreach:
In the fall of 2016 to Spring 2017, the OLA participated in the Blue Ribbon Panel on Property Rights, travelling across Ontario on our own dime, to introduce the message of changing the tone on property rights. The Blue Ribbon Panel often met twice a month for up to 4 hours, some driving for two hours to attend the meetings. We released our report on Property Rights in January 2017 and then we took our message to Ontarions by organizing small town hall meetings. To see the Blue Ribbon Panel documents and meeting reports, please visit www.yourpropertyrights.ca.

Starting with the Ottawa Valley Farm Show in March 2017, we staffed booths at several events across Ontario including the Rebel Live Event (June 2017 – Toronto), Ontario Fur Managers Annual Convention (August 2017 – Carp), and the International Ploughing Match (September 2017 – Walton).

Following Donna Burns’ initiative, we have met with several organizations to introduce them to the objectives and mandate of the OLA. While we may not agree on all fronts, we have found that there is considerable common ground when it comes to property rights and the tendency of government to overstep their authority.

Spring Directors Meeting:
… was held in Lindsay on April 22, 2017. Pros and cons of incorporation were discussed. A motion was passed to have each county chapter contribute $100 to the OLA Defence Fund – to be revisited at our 2017 AGM. Joanne Cooney from the Carleton Landowners Association walked the directors and guests through a presentation about growing our membership, fundraising, and social media.

Litigation:
The OLA supported three attempts to have intervenors recognized who would represent the property rights perspective in the Gilmor appeal. (The Gilmors were denied a permit to build on their property because of a wetland designation.) The intervenor applications were turned down by the court of appeal, leaving the appeal heavily weighted on the conservation authority side (both the Ministry of Natural Resources and Conservation Ontario were granted intervenor status). The Gilmors lost on appeal. However, we did raise considerable awareness of this type of abuse of power by conservation authorities.

The application to Superior Court for a review of the constitutionality of the OSPCA Act was made in October 2013. After many delays, the hearing is scheduled for February 13, 2018 at 10 AM. Details will be posted on our litigation website www.fixthelaw.ca.

We thank everyone who contributed to the OLA Litigation Fund whether through our website at www.fixthelaw.ca or by mailing a cheque to the OLA Litigation Fund, PO Box 346, Woodlawn, ON. K0A 3M0. All donations gratefully accepted.

Memberships:
Our membership fees were increased for the first time since 2009 from $50 to $60. The increase will in part assist with our OLA Litigation Fund expenses. While we do receive some donations, our main source of income to cover our expenses is membership sales.

The OLA would like to remind you that if you would like assistance in doing a mail out to your members for renewal, we would be happy to help. We will send a newsletter updating your members on landowner events and activities, focusing on local news, and enclosing a membership form and return envelope. We do the work and bill the county group for expenses (stamps, envelopes, labels). Contact Marlene (613-831-2642 or thelandowner@bellnet.ca) or Shirley (613-623-0675 or sjdolan@xplornet.com) to arrange a mail out.

Social Media:
Our website is www.ontariolandowners.ca. We encourage you to send people to our site and have them subscribe to our FREE electronic newsletter. Do you have a story from your county group you would like to share? Do you have a meeting you would like to advertise on our Events page? Contact Marlene (613-831-2642 or thelandowner@bellnet.ca) or Shirley (613-623-0675 or sjdolan@xplornet.com) to submit a story or an event. The newsletter goes out the first of each month so please submit by the 20th of the month.

Our OLA Facebook page is gaining in popularity. More and more people are connecting with us through our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/OntarioLandownersAssociation They ask questions about property rights, about joining the OLA, about forming a new group, and they send us stories about property rights issues in their neighbourhood. If you are on Facebook, please join our page (Like and Follow) and encourage your “friends” to do the same. By sharing our posts, you help broaden our reach.

Answering the Phone:
Tom and Marlene Black continue to get calls every day from people who need help to understand their rights. Marlene and Shirley also answer emails coming to us via the OLA website and our Facebook page. We know many of the county groups are doing the same. We now have a good network of knowledgeable people, some with specialties on wetlands, official plans, patents, etc. to help with answering our calls.

New County Group:
The OLA is pleased to welcome a new landowner group in Elliot Lake. Bothered continually by a building inspector, a couple of property owners posted “Back off Government” signs at the edge of their property … and this seems to have solved the problem of repeated visits. A subsequent meeting with President Tom Black and a few landowners resulted in the start-up of this new group.

Fighting for Property Rights in the Courts:
Jeff Bogaerts, OLA Vice-President and President of the Lanark Landowners Association, has a vision: to establish the Canadian Property Rights Legal Services to take on conservation authorities, bylaw enforcement; anything that challenges property rights. And the work has already begun. Jeff obtained his paralegal license a little over a year ago and he has been representing people in the courts ever since on property rights issues. He draws heavily on the work of OLA Director of Research Elizabeth Marshall who has worked tirelessly almost since the organization’s inception to provide legal support for property rights cases. Jeff is also supported by a growing number of other paralegals who believe in the protection of property rights.

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