Duffy Kniaziew, owner, Orangeline Farms, inspects the exclusion insect netting on top of his Leamington, Ontario greenhouses. It’s the accordion-style material that fills the roof vent openings to keep his Leamington greenhouses as clean as possible from pests. Photo by Glenn Lowson.

According to the Duffy Kniaziew is on a rocky greenhouse high. He’s invested more than a million dollars in rooftop netting to exclude insects from his climate-controlled greenhouses. But looking ahead, he sees more threatening business risk on the horizon. Like the other 205 greenhouse operators in Ontario, the Leamington grower is facing new headwinds on April 1 – a federally imposed carbon tax.

“Growers are scrambling to understand the new system and rules, along with the multiple exemption forms that must be submitted, “says Kniaziew, referring to the Canada Revenue Agency ruling that Ontario greenhouse growers will be exempt from 80 per cent of the carbon tax. It’s a nod to Ontario growers who argued successfully that they should be on equal footing with Alberta and British Columbia operators.

In the space of 18 short months, Ontario has pivoted from one set of rules under cap-and-trade to a new energy tax being collected by the gas utilities. With energy costs comprising up to 60 per cent of greenhouse operating expenses, it’s no small worry to the sector. According to Joe Sbrocchi, general manager for the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, in the not-too-distant future, the major issue will become access to hydro, water and natural gas. He points to the rapidly developing Essex-Windsor area – the epicentre for Ontario’s 3060 greenhouse vegetable acres – which will have significantly higher electricity demands in five to seven years. Continue Reading

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