The words “city life” tend to paint a certain picture in people’s minds. We think of public transportation, crowded streets, touristy places, and overall concrete jungles. There’s an exciting way of life that comes with living in cities, but this excitement could come at a cost by taking a bigger toll on the environment than one would imagine. Today, approximately 80% of Canada’s population (approximately 29 million people) lives in urban areas. Some 10 million of these people live here in Ontario, and about 6.9 million live in the Greater Toronto Area alone.
At Sierra Club Ontario, our work mainly focuses on protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem, growing and protecting the Greenbelt, and promoting Green Energy adoption in Ontario. Sierra Club Ontario also works on very local issues, in coordination with smaller communities in Ontario.
(Niagara’s official plan policy consultant, David Heyworth. Photo: The St. Catharines Standard)
The Niagara Region has embarked on a new three-year process to develop a new Official Plan. What hinders this path, possibly to ruin, is that it is heavily influenced by a peculiar type of environmental stakeholder: consultants in the pay of developers.
(Acadian Flycatcher. Photo: Edward Plumer)
On May 8, 2018, the Niagara Falls City Council voted to approve what is now termed the Riverfront development. This would, if approved by the Ontario Land Use Planning Tribunal (LPAT), call for the destruction of 120 acres of diverse natural habitat, some of which is now protected wetlands.
The Thundering Water Forest is a 500 acre woodland on the Welland River in Niagara Falls. For over two years, a struggle has been taking place between the Haudenosaunee First Nations and GR (CAN) Investment Co. Ltd., an investor for massive commercial and real estate development in Niagara Falls.
by Becky Bassick & Lino Grima
Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Ontario Chapter
Ontario's 42nd general election is scheduled for June of this year. Sierra Club Ontario (SCO) is working hard with a coalition of other environmental nonprofits to ensure that water is part of the political conversation. In addition, SCO is taking this opportunity to discuss fundamental questions regarding our election process.
Despite enormous pressures from developers and municipalities in the Niagara Region, the provincial government denied all requests to shrink and dilute the Greenbelt. This was done in two locations. One was in Grimsby south of the Niagara Escarpment, in an area that is increasingly being used for tree fruit and grape crops. Another is in a corridor from Lake Ontario to Lake Gibson, along the Twelve Mile Creek.
"Protecting Water for Future Generations" warns that increased storm water discharges created by urbanization "adds sediment to streams that can negatively impact fish and other aquatic species" and also "increase water temperature, affecting the survival of fish species such as brook trout that need cold water". It stresses that Brook Trout will not survive in warmer water created through the ecological degradation associated with urbanization.
As the African proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”. This was quoted by one of the judges to conclude the 2017 AquaHacking semi-finals competition. It epitomized a powerful theme for an evening that involved bringing people and organizations together that had been working to develop integrated water governance by promoting technological innovation in this sector. Moreover, to engage future leaders by bringing water problems to the forefront of public and private sector agendas and fostering commitment to solving them.
"Let's change our national motto - "From sea to sea" forgets that we have three oceans; the Arctic is largest part of our coastline. We're an ocean nation, if our youth grow up knowing that, it will change how we do things... 'From sea to sea to sea'!" - Geoff Green, Executive Director and Founder of Students on Ice
"...The more we all know about and love the ecosystem that embeds and surrounds us, the more we feel that we are a part of it, the more we will see ways to enjoy, protect, and enhance what we have..."
The official announcement came on December 7th. The province is proposing to grow the Greenbelt by up to another 345,000 hectares (see Figure 1), adding on to the 810,000 hectares already in permanent existence plus the extra 10,000 hectares of urban river valley lands and wetlands that were announced this spring. This is a truly impressive proposal.
From coast to coast, Sierra Club Canada Foundation staff and volunteers in all 5 of our Chapters have worked hard for years, campaigning to protect endangered Blue Whales in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, to ban the use of bee killing neonicotinoid pesticides, to create a national climate change action plan and to expand green space in and around our cities.