The announced closure of a tree seed plant in Angus, Ontario, threatens the future of the Ferguson Forest Centre [FFC], and the CEO of the FFC, Ed Patchell, has called on local MPP, Steve Clark, to work in the legislature to have the closure cancelled.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forest’s Angus Tree Seed Plant south-west of Barrie is scheduled for termination in September of next year, having been operated by the Province since 1923, as part of the reforestation program designed to repair serious damage caused to forest cover in Ontario by 19th century logging and forest destruction. The work which the seed plant has been doing for those decades, providing and processing seeds from known and tested sources for facilities across the province, will be handed over to private commercial companies. The Ontario Government announced its plans in August of this year, without consulting interested parties in the industry.
Ed Patchell believes that the closure of the Angus plant could threaten the future operations of the FFC. “If the closure of the Angus Seed Plants goes forward as planned, it will be hard, if not impossible for the Ferguson Forest Centre to continue to provide appropriately seed sourced forest seedlings for eastern Ontario”, he wrote in his letter to Steve Clark. “The Angus Tree Seed Plant has been the primary supplier of locally sourced seeds for the Ferguson Forest Centre since it was initially opened in 1946. The seed plant is the only forest tree seed processing facility in all of southern Ontario”.
The Ferguson Forest Centre, over the last 20 years, has produced and shipped over 50 million seedlings. Since 1946 over 350 million seedlings have been produced. The Centre employs the equivalent of 13 full time staff and spend over $1 million dollars in the local economy annually. This would obviously be a major economic blow to the community, but it would also threaten a vital natural asset for the people fo North Grenville. The FFC is the location of numerous public trails, Veteran’s Way and memorial Parl, the Dog Park, and a wonderful green space in the heart of our community. Without the FFC, it is hard to imagine the green space surviving untouched.
Steve Clark expressed frustration over the government’s failure to acknowledge the serious concerns being raised, and the alternatives proposed, by the Ontario Tree Seed Coalition to keep the Seed Plant operational.
“Industry experts weren’t consulted on this and are warning the minister her plan is ‘unreasonable’ and ‘irresponsible.’ It’s time for her to put the closure on hold and work with the industry, including the Ferguson Forest Centre, on alternatives” he said. “The cost of closing the seed plant won’t only be measured in lost jobs and economic activity, but the potential loss of important environmental initiatives that keep our forests healthy and sustainable.”