Musician captures frustrations over Wilmot farmland expropriations with new song

A Waterloo region singer-songwriter is hoping his new tune will help keep a controversial move by the region to purchase, or expropriate, farmland in Wilmot Township fresh in peoples' minds.

Steve Todd — known as Punkeydoodles Steve on YouTube — was inspired to write the song, titled 770 Acres, after reading about the issue. In March, a dozen owners of six farmland properties and six residential properties were told the Region of Waterloo plans to purchase their land.

In total, the region is pursuing 770 acres — roughly 311 hectares — of land in Wilmot Township near the intersection of Nafziger Road and Bleams Road, south of New Hamburg.

If the landowners refuse to sell, they have been told their land would be expropriated. The region has said it needs the land for future industrial projects, but has not provided specific details.

"I live in Punkydoodles Corners, and we had a traffic fatality there, one of our neighbours," Todd said. "We all got together as a community to try to get change, to make our area safe."

"There's three different councils, plus the regional municipality — Perth, Oxford, Wilmot and then the Region of Waterloo — that all had to kind of cooperate to make a change in our area."

"We are in Wilmot as well, so I was really paying attention to how Wilmot was gonna deal with the land expropriation. So I was kind of like laser focused on what was happening in our community."

Todd said the song came together quickly, taking about four days to write, record and release it online.

It includes the lyric: "Take away the farm and you take away the food."

The intersection of Nafziger and Bleams roads in Wilmot Township, where any farmers  are feeling forced from their homes after receiving notices on behalf of the Region of Waterloo, stating their land is needed for future industrial projects.
The intersection of Nafziger and Bleams roads in Wilmot Township, where many farmers are feeling forced from their homes after receiving notices on behalf of the Region of Waterloo, stating their land is needed for future industrial projects. (Karis Mapp/CBC)

"I've gotten an awful lot of response online," he said. "It's all been 100 per cent positive and most people have just said that what I said is how they feel."

"The song lyrics really try to boil down all the different emotions and different frustrations."

Todd said he wrote the song as a concerned citizen, not a member of any group like Fight for Farmland.

"I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody else," he said. "I just really read an awful lot of news articles."

He said he hopes the song helps keep the issue fresh in peoples' minds.

"The song was released at the beginning of July," Todd said. "I think that's important, because people forget about politics over the summer months. We think about maybe our kids' baseball games and camping and barbecues."

"I think it's the perfect time to have the song released, and people can think about it and it stays on the news," he said. "It would be nice to maybe get invited to one of the rallies to play it as well."

"But I just hope that it keeps the story in the news and fresh, that's all."