By Dan Rankin
On Thursday, Sept. 22, Perth County will be holding yet another public meeting on surplus farmhouse severances, this time in Mitchell.
If anyone has an excuse to be jaded about the long-running merry-go-round of whether or not to permit surplus farmhouses to be severed in Perth County, its Perth South deputy mayor Jim Aitcheson – a third-term representative for the decidedly pro-severance township. But that was not the case at Perth South Council’s meeting on Tuesday, when Aitcheson admitted that he was hopeful that the issue would soon be satisfactorily resolved.
On Thursday, Aug. 4, County Council agreed to proceed to a public meeting to collect input about a heavily-revised surplus farmhouse severance policy made up very different criteria than the ones presented to the public last fall, he said.
“All three councillors from Perth East were against it, but they were the only ones who voted against the motion to go to the public meeting,” Aitcheson said, adding that, by his count, when it comes to actually voting on whether or not to allow surplus farmhouse severances, they will have the support to pass the amendment by a “final vote of 10-8.”
Aitcheson said the new proposed rules have “come a long way,” and called them “open season” compared to those criteria, which were panned by most in the packed hall at the Elma-Logan Recreation Complex in Monkton last fall.
Gone from the list of criteria are the stipulations that both the property being severed and the applicant’s home farm must be registered in the same name. “You can have one farm in your name and one in a joint name, as long as you can prove all are the same entity,” he said. “There’s no distance [restriction] at all. It’s opened up significantly.”
Among other stipulations are that the applicant must have a valid farm registration number and that the house being severed must be at least 10 years old at the time of application, he said.
Aitcheson put out a call for those same people who spoke at and attended the meeting in Monkton (and the one in Sebringville before that) to attend the upcoming Mitchell meeting. “I would like those same people to come back out and say, ‘thank you for listening to our comments. What you have put forth is in the best interest of the County of Perth’,” he said.
Gestures like that could be enough to ensure support of a majority of members of County Council, he said.