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.
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.
"..The consortium proposes a “Near Surface Disposal Facility” (NSDF), a mound of one million cubic meters of nuclear waste on a hillside draining into the already highly contaminated Perch Creek wetlands, less than 1 km from the Ottawa River.
"The Peacemaker's World can only be protected by the direct action of the Ontario government putting rural lands in Simcoe into Ontario's Greenbelt, which would protect such natural wonders as the Minesing Wetlands...Rather than being seen as a controversial hot potato to be tossed around and evaded, the province needs to make a bold move that would win it plaudits from a public prone to cynicism."
On the afternoon of October 28th, on St. Catharine’s' Lockhart Drive in a threatened Carolinian Old Growth Forest north of the Niagara Escarpment, the Sierra Club celebrated a major environmental victory. This was the extension of Ontario's Greenbelt to 21 major urban river corridors from Northumberald to Niagara. In Niagara, this involved the protection of Lake Gibson - a reservoir for most of the drinking water for Niagara's residents.
The following article was written by Becky Bassick, Sierra Club Ontario's Green Energy & Great Lakes Campaign Volunteer.