Excitement in the Green community is at an all time high: the Green movement is growing. You may already be part of it without even realizing it! Every conversation you have about our communities, economies, and environment builds the impetus toward change. We’re seeing an appetite for a green future beyond anything we’ve seen in past elections… and this one hasn’t even begun!
WRGreens are growing a people-powered movement in Waterloo Region to elect our first Green MPs!
You’re invited to our 2019 WRGreens Candidate preNomination Social Thursday, January 31st
7:00 – 9:00pm
at Fresh Ground ~ 256 King St E, Kitchener
People from all parties and backgrounds are invited to come find out how we will make the community, economy, and environment our priority.
WRGreens believe our only credible path toward a healthy and robust future for our region and our country is decisive action: we need to start electing Green MPs. We have all the tools and solutions. All we need do is choose to act together. Be part of the solution by joining the first wave of this movement as we build toward the October election!
Come meet Waterloo Region’s Green Party candidate nominees
So far we have half a dozen declared candidate nominees for Kitchener Centre, and we may have contested nominations in all 5 ridings! This is your chance to find out what our potential Waterloo Region Greens candidates are working for, and why they’ve committed to running under the Green banner in 2019! If you are interested in throwing your hat in the ring (or know someone else who might be) for the riding of
Our first combined nomination meeting will take place on March 6th, when GPC members of the Kitchener Centre and Waterloo EDAs will choose their candidates. Then In April, we’ll host the combined meeting for Kitchener South–Hespeler, Kitchener–Conestoga, and Cambridge candidates.
If you’re not a member yet, before you can vote for the next Green Party Candidate in your riding, you’ll need to join the party. You can purchase your $10 membership online before the preNomination Social, or you can wait and do it at the event.
Whether you’re a GPC member or a friend, this will be a great opportunity to grab a coffee, listen to music, and get to know each other. Families are welcome.
Bill 66 was introduced in the Ontario legislature just before the Christmas holidays. The short timeframe for discussion and consultation makes me think the legislators are trying to pass it before people have a chance to understand its effects. It is an omnibus bill, affecting dozens of different pieces of Ontario laws and regulations, many items of which are hidden behind indirect references, and all of which are to be voted on en masse. Omnibus bills tend to carry deleterious clauses which would never stand on their own, but which get passed only because of some other items in the same bill that are perceived to be more beneficial than the rest of the bill is bad.
Many groups joined together to provide information on Bill 66, and to make a concerted effort to bring our dissatisfaction to local municipal and provincial leaders. I made twodelegations to Woolwich Township Council urging them to pass a resolution to reject Bill 66 and to pledge that if passed, not to use this legislation to bypass the environmental regulations currently in place. Woolwich did pass a resolution, but stopped short of adding the pledge not to use it.
Bill 66 is a direct affront to the citizens of Ontario. Doug Ford made a pledge in May 2018 that the Green Belt areas would be not be subject to development. Now that Doug Ford is Premier of the Government of Ontario, I expect that pledge to be honoured.
Bill 66 affects existing laws and regulations at many Ministries, not just the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. It detrimentally affects the protections for workers in many separate regulations, detrimentally affects the protections for children in childcare, detrimentally affects seniors and patients in long-term care, and detrimentally affects consumers protections from wireless carriers. This is not an exhaustive list.
Bill 66 detrimentally affects environmental regulations more than any other. Under Schedule 10 municipalities no longer have to follow the regulations under the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Protection Act, Greenbelt Act, Lake Simcoe Protection Act, and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, among many others.
Ontario and its municipalities have experienced the greatest prosperity in the last ten years, without needing to circumvent the environmental protections put in place by previous Conservative and Liberal governments. Removing these protections now will pit one municipality against another — if one municipality allows development in a protected area, it creates pollution for all the downwind and downstream neighbours, both in that municipality as well as surrouding municipalities. There will be increased infrastructure costs for those municipalities that receive the extra traffic from the development, but none of the anticipated revenue. Bill 66 is not something municipalities have asked for for, nor is it something municipalities need.
Speculators may have purchased land in the currently protected areas. Just having Bill 66 on the table has affected land values. Currently permitted uses for protected areas will become unaffordable, and the pressure on local governments to bypass environmental protections will be great. I’m happy to see many municipalities have passed resolutions rejecting Bill 66.
The citizens of Ontario are clear: Bill 66, with all its recissions of existing laws, must not be passed. I hope the elected representatives in the Legislature will fulfill their mandate and represent their constituents’ demands to reject Bill 66.
It affects every municipality in Ontario. Bill 66 allows municipalities across the province to create “open-for-business by-laws” that would trump critical legal requirements to protect water, natural heritage, farmland and human health and well-being. These by-laws would take precedence over municipal official plans.
It threatens drinking water across Ontario. Open-for-business by-laws would override policies in approved source protection plans intended to protect existing and future sources of municipal drinking water from threats such as landfills, sewage systems and improper handling of fuel, manure and pesticides.
It threatens wetlands, woodlands and habitat for species at risk across Ontario. Open-for-business by-laws would circumvent protections for these important habitats and species set out in the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) under the Planning Act.
It threatens farmland across Ontario. Open-for-business by-laws would bypass agricultural protections set out, for example, in the PPS. This could lead to more urban sprawl.
It threatens two million acres of natural areas and farmland across the Greenbelt. Open-for-business by-laws would override protections for natural heritage and farmland set out in the Greenbelt Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan.
It threatens fresh water and the ecological health of the Lake Simcoe watershed. Open-for-business bylaws would trump requirements set out in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan.
It would undermine efforts to make Ontario communities more livable, sustainable and resilient. Open-for-business by-laws would override PPS policies supporting active transportation, affordable housing, green infrastructure and climate resiliency.
It would compromise transparency and public engagement. Contrary to current legal requirements (Planning Act, Clean Water Act), the by-laws could be passed without any prior public notice, behind closed doors.
It would leave citizens without recourse. Community members would not be able to appeal open-for-business by-laws to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
It threatens human and wildlife health through increased exposure to toxic chemicals. Bill 66 proposes to repeal the Toxics Reduction Act, which requires certain industrial facilities to consider ways to reduce the use and emission of toxic chemicals in their operations.
During the election, Mr Ford categorically promised not to touch the Greenbelt.
Not only is the Greenbelt home to 5,500 farms, 78 species at risk and 102 million tonnes of carbon storage, the reason it was protected in the first place was to protect a great deal of Ontario’s water.
But now Mr Ford’s majority government has introduced Bill 66, The Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, legislation. This will indeed open Ontario’s Greenbelt up to development.
Because it was introduced quietly going into Christmas, and the Ford Government has made no secret of its intention to push Bill 66 through quickly, I don’t know if anyone has yet managed a thorough examination of all the ramifications of Bill 66.
It may only be 35 pages long, but it’s an omnibus bill, which means everything you need to know isn’t contained in this draft legislation. You’d have to read through every one of the 22 laws it will change:
Some of the changes it makes may be good things, but the bad things thoroughly outweigh any good that may be there. That’s the thing about Omnibus Bills: many different things are bundled together in a package too big to be adequately considered in a democracy.
There is no reason Bill 66 couldn’t be stopped, and the good parts could be reintroduced as ordinary laws that can be properly understood and debated in the Legislature.
Our unrepresentative voting system has gifted Mr Ford’s government with 100% power to pass any law it wants, even though it was elected by only 40% of the votes cast. (A mere twentysomething percent of eligible votes).
So what’s the rush?
There is nothing stopping them from allowing citizens and the MPPs in the legislature to know what it is they are passing, and allow adequate parliamentary debate of all aspects. That’s how our system is supposed to work. In a majority government, even though the party with all the power can pass any law it wants, the reason we have an opposition parties is to ensure that our legislators make sure the laws they pass stand up to scrutiny. If there are bad unintended consequences, or even if the legislation is too broad or unclear, these things can be dealt with before they become law.
The only reason for pushing something like this through fast is to keep us from knowing what they’re doing until it’s too late. Keeping the people in the dark is not how a Government for the people would operate.
In the Region of Waterloo discussion of Bill 66, Waterloo Mayor Jaworsky said, “No one asked for this.”
Mr Ford keeps saying he needs to do this to show Ontario is “Open For Business.” But what does that mean? This law is supposed to “cut red tape” that prevents development.
But the fact is that development isn’t being prevented. There is plenty of room in Ontario, plenty of land available and open for development without going anywhere near the protected lands of the Green Belt. There is no need to endanger our water or anything else. That’s why municipalities across Ontario are passing resolutions saying they don’t want or need this.
Why is this happening?
Because when the laws protecting Ontario’s water and the Greenbelt were put in place, land prices in the Greenbelt stayed low. When a farmland can’t be turned into a factory or subdivision, it stays viable as farmland. But because of the low prices, some developers bought land in the Greenbelt, speculating that in time they would elect a government willing to undo Greenbelt protections.
Although all-party approved changes to Ontario’s election financing law prevented political parties from accepting corporate donations directly, the changes didn’t go far enough, because developers like Mattamy Homes were allowed to contribute ridiculous sums of money to Partisan third party advertiser Ontario Proud which specialized in attack ads against Mr Ford’s opponents. (And Mr Ford is undoing that election financing law because the people he is for have lots of money to spend to ensure the governments they want get elected. But that’s another story.)
The only reason the Ford Government is trying so hard to carve up the green spaces of our province with factories and subdivisions is because their rich supporters want to make a profit.
Ontario has been doing a pretty good job of long term planning, protecting sensitive environments, our water and our food supplies. Once farmland is paved, its gone.
The best we can hope for from Bill 66 is that decades of careful land management will be messed up. The worst is another Walkerton. Or another Elmira.
And if that’s not bad enough, Bill 66 does away with any requirement for public notice or consultation or meetings, and no matter what problems are caused, we won’t even be able to appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. So called “Open For Business” by-laws passed behind closed doors will trump laws, policies and municipal official plans developed through extensive and open public consultation. Communities would have no recourse to influence or challenge them.
And even if your Council doesn’t do any of these things, the Council next door might, and endanger the environment we all share.
January 20th is the deadline for comments to Bill 66 on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (EBR).
Be sure that you and others that you know speak up and let your concerns be known. It would be fantastic if your group or organization can make an official response or submission. There is plenty of information in the Bill 66 Recent Articles
linked below. There are a myriad of issues and concerns, but you can say as little or as much as you like in your comment. Don’t be shy about making comments personally – even if it is just a short sentence or two. I would suggest making it clear right at the top that you don’t want Bill 66. I am afraid to say that at this point they are not likely to listen to what we say, but they will certainly tally up how many comments support or oppose the bill.
Please take two minutes to send a message to the Ontario Government to stop Bill 66:
You can also visit the Green Party of Ontario’s Defend The Greenbelt website. If you feel you need assistance in using the comment process, the GPO advises you to Click here for step-by-step instructions to participate in the government consultation.
Climate Change is an enormous problem. Even if we manage zero emissions, the problem is we have already exceeded our carbon budget, we’re living on borrowed time. We don’t just need to stop emissions, we need to start putting carbon back where it belongs. But there is no single magic solution. The reality is that there are many ways the Climate Crisis can be addressed. The book “Drawdown” looks at 100 of the solutions.
“We would want to implement these solutions whether or not Global Warming was even a problem because they have cascading benefits to human and planetary well being.
• Renewable electricity results in access to abundant clean energy for all
• Plant rich diet, reduced food waste, results in a healthy global population with enough food and sustenance.
• Family planning and educating girls? This is about human rights, about gender equality. This is about economic improvements and the freedom of choice. It’s about justice.
• Regenerative agriculture, managed grazing, agriforestry, silvopasture — restores soil health, benefits farmers and brings carbon back to the land.
• Protecting our ecosystems also protects biodiversity and safeguards planetary health and the oxygen that we breathe. It’s tangible benefits to all species is incalculable.”
“We estimate that to implement all 80 solutions would cost about $29 trillion US$ over 30 years. That’s just about a trillion a year. Now I know that sounds like a lot, but we have to remember that global GDP is over $80 trillion every year.”
“And the estimated savings from implementing these solutions is $74 trillion US$ dollars– over double the cost. That’s a net savings of 44 trillion dollars.
“So Drawdown is possible. We can do it if we want to. Its not going to cost that much and the return on the investment is huge.
“Here’s the welcome surprise: when we implement these solutions, we shift the way we do business from a system that is inherently exploitative and extractive to a new normal that is by nature restorative and regenerative. We need to rethinhk our global goals to move beyond sustainability towards regeneration. And along the way, reverse global warming.”
I recommend getting a copy of the book Drawdown for yourself. The book isn’t mired in jargon, it’s written to be understandable to ordinary people. And not only will it make a great gift for those interested, and it would perhaps make a good educational tool to share with our public libraries and schools, but elected representatives as well.
If you missed the sold out event featuring Dianne Saxe, the Environment Commissioner of Ontario last night (January 11th, 2019),
or if you were there and want to see it again, you can watch it on the Facebook Livestream capture here: https://www.facebook.com/divestwr/videos/356227264929627/
Tonight Bob Jonkman will be making a second Delegation to Woolwich Township about Bill 66. His presentation last week at the Committee of the Whole seemed well received, and Township Staff has prepared a report, and the following Council Resolution will be proposing and passing the resolution that follows.
Whereas a Bill 66 planning by-law proposes to encourage economic development by streamlining the approval process for a major employment use,
And whereas Bill 66 proposes to give an area municipality the ability to decide under what circumstances they wish to pass a Bill 66 By-law and impose any requirement that is reasonable for and related to the appropriate use of land and that the municipality considers necessary for the protection of public health and safety,
And whereas a Bill 66 By-law cannot be appealed,
Now therefore be it resolved that the Council of the Township of Woolwich indicate its concerns with Bill 66 and indicate that the Township would only consider passing a Bill 66 By-law if it provided for the following:
protection of drinking water quality and quantity and other water resources;
protection of agricultural resources;
protection of natural heritage features and hazard lands;
conservation of cultural heritage resources;
orderly development of safe and healthy communities;
provision of land use compatibility;
provision of appropriate water and wastewater servicing;
adequate provision of employment opportunities;
adequate provision of housing, including affordable housing;
appropriate location of growth and development;
promotion of development that is designed to be sustainable, that supports public transit and that supports active transportation; and
provision of adequate public and agency consultation;
And that Bill 66 needs to be revised to provide
Clarification, acceptable to the Township of Woolwich, around the issues of how the number of employees would be ensured over time, whether there would be a distinction between full and part time employees, what mechanisms would be in place to ensure jobs continue to meet thresholds over time and what would happen if an employer is bought out, forced to lay off employees or goes bankrupt; and
That a major employment use would not be defined as including any residential or commercial (including retail use);
And that this resolution be forwarded to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing as the Township of Woolwich’s comments with regards to Bill 66 and that this resolution also be sent to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Premier, and the Waterloo Region Members of Provincial Parliament.Wo
On the face of it, it sounds reasonable, but is it?
None of the provisions Woolwich indicates would need to be in effect before the Township would only consider passing a Bill 66 By-law are part of Bill 66. The absence of these public protections is why Bill 66 exists. Even in the unlikely event the Province of Ontario were to adopt some of these provisions, we will still be stripped of at least some public protections.
Those of us who saw what happened in Walkerton, especially those with family and friends there, understand why legal protection of public health and safety must be enshrined in law. Is it acceptable to place considerations of health and safety negotiable on a project by project basis?
Those of us who saw what severely limited public consultation imposed by the Province looked like when the Bio-En Biogas plant was imposed on our community over strenuous public objection, when the economic interests of a single business owner were allowed to override citizen concerns. In that case the anti-democratic nature of the “Green Energy Act” eliminated any possible means for the community to stop it. Today the citizens of Woolwich bear the cost of a dramatic increase of heavy truck traffic through downtown Elmira along with significant road repairs due to wear and tear on our roadways, and although talked about, the cost of an Elmira truck bypass is too great for the Township coffers to bear.
Those of us who live or work in Elmira are living with the effects of a toxic water supply destroyed by the local Chemical companies before adequate provincial water protection laws were in place. Decades later we still depend on water piped in from Waterloo.
Much of Ontario– including Waterloo Region– relies on the drinking water drawn from the aquifers underground. What happens when Bill 66 exemptions result in damage to the water supply? If Waterloo’s water safety is threatened, Elmira could lose our drinking water in the blink of an eye.
I know this is terribly late notice, but if you can come out to tonight’s Woolwich Council Meeting please do.
Although this is not a Green Party event, it is sure to be of interest, not just to Greens, but every Ontarian interested in the health of our environment. It’s sure to be a lively discussion you won’t want to miss.