North Grenville council has thrown their support behind a project that is looking to have vacant farm fields designated with a civic address. The request came through correspondence from the Emily Project, an initiative started by the family of seven-year-old Emily Trudeau, who died in a farming accident in 2014. “In the event of an emergency, no one should have to wait helplessly for first responders to find them,” said a letter to council. “Time is everything, and a civic address at the entrance of a vacant farm field could make all the difference.”
Councillor John Barclay says there is a real appetite amongst the members of North Grenville’s Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee to have the Emily Project promoted and implemented in the municipality. Currently, property owners can apply to have a civic address designated on their vacant land for $50. “It’s more of an educational awareness to try and get more people in rural areas, or on particular farms, to use this to increase safety,” he said.
Councillor Kristin Strackerjan asked why the municipality couldn’t take charge in assigning civic numbers to vacant fields, especially if the $50 is a barrier to property owners applying to the program. “I’m just wondering why we couldn’t be proactive about it, instead of it just being education and putting the onus on the property owner,” she said. According to Director of Public Works, Karen Dunlop, assigning civic numbers to vacant land is not something that property owners have done in the past, and there is some cost associated with it.
“As you said, it is an application-based program, and the $50 does not necessarily cover the full cost of installation; but it does cover the material for the blade and post,” she said.
The implementation of the program will be carried out by Public Works, Planning and Development and, of course, Emergency and Protective Services. Acting Director of Planning and Development, Amy Martin, says she sees great benefit in promoting the program in the municipality. “I think it’s been a very successful program implemented by our next-door neighbours,” she said. “My next-door neighbour has a civic number next to his farm field, and I think it’s a fantastic program that we should be promoting.”
Director of Emergency and Protective Services, John Okum, believes it is a very valid initiative that should be implemented at the county level. “Maybe we could lobby our County Council to look at this program, maybe ask our paramedic services to look at it as well,” he said. “We could do it jointly.”
Mayor Peckford said that County Council did hear from the family responsible for the Emily Project about a year ago, and they directed staff to actively pursue the project. “With paramedic services being what it is, that collaboration, I think, is critical to the success of the initiative,” she said.
Council passed a motion at the meeting to direct staff to actively pursue the Emily Project and apply for any funding that might be available to help with its implementation. “It sounds like we’ve got a great interdepartmental team here to adopt the Emily Project and apply for any available funding,” Mayor Peckford said.