So there I was on that sunny summer afternoon, just getting started with our Sierra Club Canada project, “Breathe Easy,” to measure air pollution all across Ottawa. I was working from home, all the windows open, when suddenly there's a cacophony of clattering noise starting up somewhere in the neighbourhood and a real stinky smell wafting into the yard and in through my windows. I investigate to find that a local hedge trimming company has unleashed a team of three ardent cutters on my adjacent neighbour's back yard. I close up all my windows and whip over to see what's going on.
At Sierra Club Ontario, our work mainly focuses on protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem, increasing awareness about air pollution, and promoting Green Energy adoption in Ontario. Sierra Club Ontario also works on very local issues, in coordination with smaller communities in Ontario.
So far unreported in the press, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has been under assault by the Ford government. This situation is especially tragic given the historic significance of its role in environmental protection. The MNRF has evolved to become the guardian of bio-diversity in Ontario.
Evolving out of the Department of Lands and Forests, MNRF, has been characterized by its conservationist use of science. The department’s work evolved from its Forest Protection Branch created in 1911 by the then-Chief Forester of Ontario, Edmund Zavitz.
Although the government of Premier Douglas Ford is no Valhalla for environmental protection, two recent decisions in rejecting municipally supported requests for Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZO) show that engaged citizens can wrest positive victories. One MZO request, by the County of Simcoe, would have put a waste transfer station in the 207-acre part of Simcoe County Forest, designated as the Freele Tract. The second by the Town of Pickering, supported by a developer, supported the urbanization of the headwaters of Carruthers Creek.
Urgent update: Since the discovery of the expansion of the range of the dense blazing star, a new threat has emerged to their survival. Without any reporting of their expansion or of the extent of the destruction in February 2020 to the adjacent habitat of a rare orchid, the Great Plains ladies' tresses, Niagara Falls is going ahead with a Public Meeting on Tuesday, October 6, 2020. Due to COVID the meeting is virtual. You MUST get your comments submitted before the 6th. City Council could proceed to authorize their destruction, subject to an appeal to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal.
July 29, 2020, an important victory was won for the protection of the headwaters of Carruthers Creek. The Durham Regional Council, acting in response to an earlier motion by the Town of Ajax, and many residents, opposed a request by the City of Pickering to urbanize these lands through the imposition of a Ministerial Zoning Order. (MZO)
The Mohawk elder Danny Beaton (Turtle Clan) speaks on the threat posed by two environmental reviews in Ontario.
“How many books have to be written about environmental protection or films made by David Suzuki, Ed Burtynsky, or Jacques Cousteau, before we create another environmental crisis? How many environmental disasters — Katrina, Bangladesh? How many mega projects do we need? There is an Earth crisis still unfolding from killing wild animals in China.
As July has come to an end, I want to thank everyone who joined Sierra Club and thousands across the Great Lakes, for the Plastic Free July Challenge. We had a great month administering the challenge and I hope those who participated enjoyed it.
Thirty-one days of refusing, reducing and reusing. Thirty-one days of activities and action against plastic pollution in Canada.
What prematurely kills some 500 people in Ottawa every year, and about 14,600 in Canada?
It’s air pollution. How serious is that? As I stated in an opinion piece published in the Ottawa Citizen (see link below), that’s about as deadly as the COVID-19 pandemic. Halfway through 2020, about 240 people had died in Ottawa from the Covid-19 virus and about 7300 in Canada.
The explosion of the movement for racial equality recently brings into highlight a threatened old growth forest called Waverly Beach, in Fort Erie, Ontario. Its sacred groves in 1905, earlier a home for refugees from slavery, became the birth place of the Niagara Movement. It was a forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP).
As revelations mount about problems with mercury contamination from the now closed De Beers Victor Diamond Mine in Attawapiskat, opposition to proposed Ring of Fire mining projects soar. Claims by the Wildlands League that the company did not release the monitoring results for mercury contamination at 5 of 9 monitoring wells, received a boost on January 13, 2020, when Justice David A. Thomas ruled that these claims of violation of Ontario environmental laws could proceed to trial.
Although inconspicuously described as “Amendment Number I to the Ontario Growth Plan”, its impact if approved would be catastrophic. Amendment No. 1, would neuter the thrust of provincially directed land use planning, since it began to have an impact in a document entitled “Design for Development” (1966). It was also described as the Toronto Centred Region Plan.
The Ontario Provincial Police investigation into the hiring of Carmen D’Angelo as Chief Executive Officer (CAO) of the Niagara Region has taken a new direction. Now that the former CAO and the Regional Councillors who supported him are in the clear, the OPP is pursuing a new target. The new target is Bonnie Lysyk, the Auditor General of Ontario.
By Dr. Lino Grima
Chair, Ontario Chapter
We all know how big a problem plastic pollution is – and it has not gone away while we’ve been trying to stop the spread of COVID-19.
This is why we invite you to join the Plastic Free July Challenge, a series of activities and actions being organized by the Sierra Club Ontario and the Great Lakes Forums’ Plastic Pollution Team.
Reducing plastic pollution will generate savings for businesses, towns, and governments, and generate tens of thousands of new jobs in Canada - a great way to build back better after COVID.
Take action now - City seeking input to build bike lanes and green infrastructure.
The City of Brampton has taken a progressive stance towards active transportation following the increasing interest in cycling seen during the ongoing pandemic. As of April 18, 2020 they have decided to temporarily close off curb lanes for vehicular traffic and, instead, install interim bike lanes along an East West travel corridor.
From usually reliable sources it appears that the provincial government is planning at the request of developers, to urbanize 2,200 hectares of Carruthers Creek. Carruthers flows into Lake Ontario in the City of Ajax, a community that has long opposed the flood of pollution such an action would bring.
Protect Carruthers Creek Headwaters
The Government of Ontario has decided to restore the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1994 (EBR), effective June 15, 2020. This is a big win for the environment. Ontario had previously suspended the key conditions of the EBR in early April. The suspension worked to eliminate public awareness of ongoing projects and the right to weigh in on environmentally significant decisions using the Environmental Registry.
This would be detrimental to those working towards greener practices.
One of the great victories of the environmental movement of Ontario is now under attack — the Simcoe County Forests. The system was created under the leadership of Premier E. C. Drury, and his friend Edmund Zavitz, to rescue the Simcoe County from being buried in marching sand wastes. This was triggered by ruthless deforestation.
The Freele Tract is being defended by a valiant 770-member environmental protection group which should never have had to be organized. It’s called the Friends of Simcoe County Forests.
We find ourselves in unprecedented times. We are working hard to adapt to the new normal and do our part to reduce the spread of the virus. We encourage you to stay connected to nature in what can be difficult and stressful times. Although we cannot be in nature together, we can still enjoy the outdoors apart! Spending time in the fresh air is helpful for mental health and staying active during this time. Here are our best practices for how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.
1. Stay Up to Date with Local Health Authority Guidelines
Photo: by Jeff Smith on Unsplash.com. In the 1880s, St. Lawrence Market (Toronto, Ontario) sold passenger pigeons which later became extinct. Market hunting became banned throughout North America following passage of the Migratory Bird Convention.
SCO is seeking members to serve on our volunteer Executive Committee
Candidates should be passionate about environmental protection and supporting grassroots activists. Also must have a track record of commitment, reliability, and the ability to be a team player. Sierra Club is committed to equity and diversity in all of its appointments and activities. Self-nomination is welcome.
At this time, SCO is particularly interested in candidates suited to join as Treasurer, Fundraising Committee members or Communications Committee members.