Protecting Our Home: Sierra Club Ontario Calls for Urgent Action In Ontario Election

Media Release on the Ontario Provincial Election


For Immediate Release: May 25, 2022

Ontario is in the midst of both a housing crisis and environmental crises. Sierra Club Ontario, a chapter of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, with thousands of supporters in the province, says they are far from being separate issues and that these crises are fundamentally tied to each other. Sierra Club Ontario also says solutions exist that could help address both. They say this is a crucial election for the environment and the future of Ontario. The organization points to the most recent IPCC report which has confirmed that if we don’t make drastic changes, we are headed towards an environmental and human disaster.

Sierra Club Ontario says that in order to ensure affordable housing for all, the priority needs to be given to building in a way that has a low impact on the surrounding natural environment and which ensures a healthy environment and good air quality for those being housed. Poor air quality places Ontario citizens at increased risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. Too often, they say, the emphasis is being put on building housing with a high impact on ecosystems that isn’t even affordable to those who need new housing most.

Together with their members, Sierra Club Ontario is demanding stronger action and legislation that prioritizes people and the environment, to ensure a liveable future.

Sierra Club Ontario has sent a list of ten demands they want the parties to address, and have collected the major political parties' responses to those demands here:

Among the commitments being demanded of parties are:

1. Banning the burning of plastic and setting high standards for re-use and recycling that would require refill or recycling of 90 percent of beverage containers.

2. Cancelling both Highway 413 & the Bradford Bypass and maintaining the cancellation of the Mid-Peninsula Highway.

3. Committing to fully funding affordable co-op housing to support liveable cities and social equity.

4. Developing and adopting a Rights of Nature Legislation.

Lucy Bain, Coordinator of the Sierra Club Ontario and leader of its Problem with Plastics Campaign, said:
“Plastic pollution is choking the Great Lakes and other freshwater throughout the province, affecting fish, wildlife, and our quality of life. We want Ontario to embrace the principles of reducing plastic waste and require refill or recycling of at least 90% of beverage containers. We need a commitment that Ontario will not open the door to burning plastic that would release toxins into water, air and food supplies — threatening the health of nearby communities. Or do nothing to address the endless tide of plastic waste.”

David Laing of the Sierra Club Ontario Peel Group, said:
“The next Ontario government must not throw away billions of hard-earned tax dollars on highways that non-partisan experts say are unnecessary. Building Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass won’t improve traffic congestion, but it will increase greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, endanger wildlife, and jeopardize Ontario’s greenspaces, forests and wetlands. The Provincial Government should instead be investing in expanding our public transit network. That’s the sustainable choice.”

Leslie Adams, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Goals Campaigner for Sierra Club, said:
“Mother Earth — and all life — has an inherent right to flourish, independent of the value people place on it. Furthermore, all life, including us, are both a part of and dependent on BioDiversity and nature for our basic needs, our livelihoods, our security, and our continued survival. We are asking candidates in this election to develop a process to recognize the Rights of Nature and enshrine them in law. We are ready to work with you to do this.”

John Bacher, Executive Committee member of Sierra Club Ontario, said:
“The latest IPCC report warns that urban sprawl could consume as much as 5% of current cultivated land by 2050 — or five times the current footprint of cities themselves. We are seeing this dangerous erosion of greenspace occurring here in Ontario, threatening our resiliency to worsening climate impacts, air quality, food security, and the fabric of life. We are demanding the next Ontario government freeze the urban boundaries for the Oak Ridges Moraine, similar to those established for the Niagara Escarpment Urban area. We also wish to see a reversal of measures weakening the Ontario Endangered Species Act — formerly the gold standard for species protection — that now allows the Minister of Environment to suspend protections for the growing list of at-risk species.”

Elder Danny Beaton, Mohawk of the Turtle Clan, said:
“Mother Earth is a sacred lady and shares her body with us Human Beings so we can survive and drink her blood: the water. Urban planners, scientists and engineers need to work together if Mother Earth is to be protected and saved. Today, Niagara, Simcoe and Dufferin County are using their lawyers to seek permits in expanding urban boundaries and Mother Earth is under constant attack, and we need leaders more than even who will protect her.”

Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Programs Director with Sierra Club Canada Foundation, said:
“Affordable housing is top of mind for many Ontario voters — with good reason. Leaders in this election need to align solutions to the housing crisis with the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity. We support a comprehensive affordable housing strategy that will create affordable housing in liveable, accessible communities and protect green spaces which are our buffer to the worst of climate impacts. The policies sought by Sierra Club Ontario in this election would create a path to a healthier home for people and for nature.”

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