This Ontario Election, Let’s Demand That Political Leaders Take Action to Protect The Environment
Ontario’s environment is under threat from climate change, from highways and development that will pave over farmland, forests and wetlands, from plastic and toxic pollution and from the erosion of protection for endangered plants and animals.
But your vote can change the future – by electing a government that will fight climate change, promote sustainable development, tackle pollution and restore protections for natural areas and endangered species.
Let candidates know that if they want your vote, they need to be serious about protecting Ontario’s Environment. We’ve created this guide of key policies to look for when you read party platforms and talk to local candidates. We also came up with some of the top questions you can ask candidates.
A strong environment plan for Ontario will
- Slash greenhouse gas emissions to 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, with measures that include the phase-out of gas-fired power plants, a shift to public transit, support for vehicle electrification, subsidized energy efficiency retrofits, and the cancellation of carbon-spewing highways like Highway 413.
- Protect farmland, wetlands, forests, creeks and ravines in Ontario’s most imperiled southern regions by banning and canceling settlement boundary expansions and sprawl Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs).
- End exclusionary zoning, and use future homes and workplaces of all types to turn all our existing car-dependent neighborhoods into complete communities where most people don’t need a car to live comfortably.
- Protect people, homes and habitat from flooding, landslides and soil and water contamination by restoring the full mandate and independence of Conservation Authorities, removing provincial politicians’ power to control or override their decisions, and providing direct provincial funding for all the work they do.
- Protect wildlife by restoring a science-based approach to recovery of species at risk, including mandatory protection for all the habitat of at-risk species, and an end to broad Endangered Species Act exemptions, or planned “pay to slay” funds that let developers and industry destroy that habitat for a fee.
- Safeguard water by mandating reductions in phosphorous, plastic and other pollution, tightening controls on the commercial use of groundwater, and placing a moratorium on new aggregate pits until new, more protective regulations are in place.
- Expand deposit-return to non-alcoholic beverages and improve “Extended Producer Responsibility” by making companies responsible for all of the waste their products generate, not just the 40 per cent collected from households, and set higher collection and recycling targets for plastics for the producers to meet.
Beware of an Environment Plan that:
- Relies on risky, unproven new nuclear reactors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production.
- Claims it is possible to increase the production of plastics or fossil fuels in a “net zero” way by storing the carbon emissions from them underground.
- Claims that the way to deal with plastic waste is through “advanced recycling” or “thermal treatment” which are really euphemisms for burning it.
- Pretends to address housing affordability while refusing to densify existing low-density neighborhoods, or insisting that new neighborhoods be built in costly low-density forms, such as large single family homes, on rural farmland and natural areas where most residents will still need to pay for cars.
- Counts on electric vehicles (EVs) to deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions without actually mandating car companies make EVs available in a timely and convenient manner.
- Claims that destroying wetlands and endangered species habitat can be “offset” by paying a fee and/or building new habitat somewhere else
6 questions to ask your candidates
- Will you take action to reduce Ontario’s carbon emissions to 60% below 2005 levels by 2030, including phasing out gas-fired power plants, investing in renewable energy, and improving energy efficiency?
- Will you immediately cancel urban boundary expansions, end exclusionary zoning, and stop car-dependent sprawl on farmland and natural areas, and instead use our future homes and workplaces to turn existing car-dependent suburbs into communities where people can walk, bike or take public transit to get to work, school and shops?
- Will you restore mandatory protection of all endangered species habitat, cancel broad Endangered Species Act exemptions, and scrap plans to let developers “pay to slay” (pay into a fund instead of taking measures to protect species)?
- Will you safeguard water by pausing new aggregate pits, and mandating reductions in phosphorous, plastic, road salt and other pollution?
- Will you restore the full mandate and independence of Conservation Authorities, empower them to say no to development, wherever science and environmental protection demand it, and ensure that those refusals are free from interference or override by politicians?
- Will you cancel Highway 413, which if built will pave over 2,000 acres of prime farmland, including a section of the Greenbelt, degrade local waterways, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and cost over $6 billion in public funds without relieving gridlock in the region?