HULBERT — With the goal of saving lives, the first civic numbers for farm fields have gone up in South Dundas.
Dundas Federation of Agriculture members Jackie Kelly-Pemberton and Jim Shaw, along with representatives of the Municipality of South Dundas and local fire and police services, gathered at Councillor Archie Mellon’s field to celebrate the debut of the available markers.
Part of a province-wide effort, FARM 911: The Emily Project aims to avoid tragedies by making it easier for 9-1-1 callers to describe the location of an accident occurring on an agricultural property, when time is critical.
Kelly-Pemberton traced the initiative’s start to the death of a little girl, Emily, in Northumberland County, after first responders couldn’t find the involved accident scene. “The tragedy was that an accident happened on farm … and the responders were unable to locate the land base where the accident occurred because there was no civic address to that farm gate, so in the time delay … the child lost her life,” explained Kelly-Pemberton, who also serves as Zone 11 director with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and whose own land in neighbouring North Dundas now features six new civic addresses.
Inspired by the resulting program to put addresses on field entrances in Northumberland, Shaw invited the spearhead from that community to make a similar presentation to the Council of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. “Everybody was on side, North Dundas, South Dundas,” Shaw observed, also acknowledging a $5,000 grant from SDG to help fund the first batch of signs.
Shaw and Mellon also acknowledged the “very instrumental” effort of North Dundas Deputy Mayor Al Armstrong for ensuring the idea didn’t get lost in shuffle. “It sort of got stalled a little bit at County Council table,” conceded Mellon. “And Al and his very subtle and direct way lit a fire back under County Council after several months, and got it to the forefront rather quickly,” he said.
In South Dundas, according to Mellon, farm properties are eligible for two subsidized signs, which drops the price to $75 apiece. However, there’s nothing stopping farmers from securing more signs from the township — at the full price of $125 — if required. His own family’s operation has put up two markers, one off County Rd. 16 — site of the socially-distanced gathering that morning — and another off Fulton Rd.
An allotment of 100 subsidized signs are available on a first come, first served basis, in South Dundas, with a number of those already spoken for, said Mellon, who encourages farmers to take part in the program. “It’s really quite cheap in the big scheme of things.”
The councillor also pointed out the new signs could make it easier for callers to identify the location of vehicle accidents on remote stretches of roadway.
South Dundas Director of Fire & Emergency Service Cameron Morehouse and SD&G Ontario Provincial Police Constable Laura Dargie also vouched for the new signs’ potential to save lives.
“This is going to be so useful for us in locating people who need help,” said Dargie.
Morehouse noted that each new sign’s number is incorporated into the onboard geographical information system used by firefighters and other first responders to locate the site as quickly as possible.
South Dundas has selected a sign blade style otherwise identical to those issued for residential and business addresses. The new field markers, however, do not indicate or confer eligibility to erect buildings at those sites, Morehouse emphasized.