Ready to learn
Steven Byvelds welcomed a large crowd and introduced an expert lineup of speakers during the Dundas Drainage Day held at the Chesterville Legion Hall on Fri., March 23.    Sawyer Helmer photo

Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
Record Staff
CHESTERVILLE – Last year Steven Byvelds, past president and current Director of the Dundas Federation of Agriculture (DFA), proposed to organize an event for producers and landowners about rural drainage. On Fri., March 23, he did just that. The full-day speaker series featured seven experts who spoke to a packed crowd at the Chesterville Legion about all things drainage.

The conservation side of drainage
Geoff Owen, SNC regulations officer, aimed to explain some of the drainage regulations in regards to the Conservation Authorities Act. He gave the crowd some helpful advice about protecting property while upholding the regulations.
Sawyer Helmer photo

“From my previous municipal life and experiences, I learned that there is a lot of information that landowners and farmers need to have. Education is a good thing. After the 2017 season I think a lot of us were thankful we had most of the municipal drains up to spec.,” said Byvelds while kicking off the day.

DFA, with Byvelds as the lead on this project, partnered with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), South Nation Conservation (SNC) and the Dundas Soil and Crop Improvement Association (DSCIA).

The agenda began with insights from Sid Vander Veen, OMAFRA Drainage Supervisor Coordinator, and then Lorne Franklin of Robinson Consultants who had some advice on municipal drain maintenance. After a hot lunch from Lyle Skuce, Jackie Kelly-Pemberton, OFA Director of District 11, gave a brief rundown of OFA and DFA programs and initiatives. She encouraged producers to get involved and join the federations.

The majority of the latter part of the afternoon was filled with information from SNC. Geoff Owens covered Conservation Authority Act regulations and Michelle Cavanagh touched on some of the proposed changes to the Fisheries Act and how they could affect landowners. Lastly from SNC, Ronda Boutz explained the benefits of controlled tile drainage for managing land in dry growing seasons. Last to the podium was Albert Zandbergen, of Quintan Products, who rounded off the informative day with a contractor’s point of view and the challenges contractors face with earlier planting dates and later snow falls.

Byvelds seemed happy with the turnout and said another such day would not be necessary for roughly five years, or if some of the Act regulations were to change. Otherwise the comments from those in attendance were positive and confirmed there was a lot to learn at the Drainage Day.