CollingwoodToday.ca asked the four main provincial candidates in Simcoe-Grey a series of six questions via email. The following responses were submitted by the candidates and/or their campaigns. The answers have not been checked for accuracy; they represent the candidates’ platforms and opinions. External links have been removed.
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Q: Georgian Bay Forever has been working in Collingwood to run various divert and capture programs aimed at preventing pollution from getting into Georgian Bay. Part of the program involves installing after-market microfibre filters on washing machines to catch microfibres and plastics before they enter the wastewater system. Georgian Bay Forever and other organizations, including the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, are calling for laws that would require these filters to be built into new washing machines at manufacturing. A private member’s bill has been introduced provincially twice, but has not passed.
What is your stance on this issue in particular, and what other actions would you take to prevent pollution to the Great Lakes?
Allan Kuhn, Green: Water, especially the watersheds, wetlands and the Great Lakes themselves are our life giving systems. Without this ecology, we wouldn’t be. To pollute them with plastic and microplastics is absurd! To disallow systems of pollution prevention is equally as absurd. We must do everything possible to rid our water from plastics and microplastics.
We need to restore provincial funding for source water protection under the Clean Water Act. We need to ban single use plastics such as water bottles, coffee cups and other unnecessary packaging. We need to push towards zero waste! Adopt clear, stringent, and enforceable extended producer responsibility standards for waste and packaging generated at workplaces, schools and in public places.
We need to work with Indigenous people and the federal government to create Marine Conservation Areas in the Great Lakes. We need to implement a plan for cutting phosphorus entering Lake Simcoe to 44 tonnes by 2026 and support the creation of a phosphorus recycling facility. We need to support local conservation groups, authorities and initiatives to continue to champion for clean water! I would support every bill that favours not destroying the last intact parts of our ecosystem.
Brian Saunderson, PC: I support this initiative and as Mayor, I championed the microfibre filtration pilot in Collingwood with Georgian Bay Forever. My family has a filter unit on our washing machine. Collingwood is one of the founding members of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSL) which was founded in 2003. I served on the Board for four years and supported the resolution calling for the filtration units to be built into new washing machines.
As a municipal leader, I brought forward many initiatives to protect our local environment including working to eliminate single use plastics from Town facilities, benchmarking the Town’s greenhouse gas emissions, stormwater harvesting and championing UN Sustainable Development Goal #11. In recognition of these efforts, I am one of only 13 candidates in this election across Ontario to be endorsed by GreenPac, a not-for-profit organization that is working to build environmental leadership.
The Progressive Conservative Government passed A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan in 2018 that sets out a strong plan to address climate change and protect our air, land and water. This plan recognizes the fundamental importance of the Great Lakes to our quality of life environmentally, socially and economically. The Great Lakes represent 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water and supplies drinking water to over 70 per cent of Ontario residents.
I will advocate to continue to implement the action items in the Plan and to work with the Federal Government to activate the new Canada Water Agency, to keep our fresh water safe, clean and well-managed.
Ted Crysler, Liberal: As an avid environmental advocate, I am committed to creating a greener Ontario and fully support divert and capture programs to help reduce microfibres and plastics polluting Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes. I would support a bill to require these filters to be built into new washing machines, similar to what France recently enacted with 2025 set as the effective date.
Protecting our Great Lakes is crucial, and another area we need to focus on is sewage. As more extreme weather events become more common, we need infrastructure in place to avoid overflow entering the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay.
Keith Nunn, NDP: It was in fact an NDP bill that sought to prohibit the sale of washing machines not equipped with a filter that reduces the shed of microfibers into soil and water systems. We are committed to re-tabling this bill.
The NDP has a plan to prevent pollution that includes:
- Launching a provincial water strategy based on the principle that decisions about water must be based on public interest, and guarantee public access to sustainable water sources.
- Launching a transparent, public review of the Permit-To-Take-Water process, especially for bottled water, to protect public use and good watershed management.
- Working closely with municipalities, industry and Stewardship Ontario. We’ll improve and expand the producer-responsibility model of waste diversion to include more sectors and set higher recycling targets.
- Banning non-medical single-use plastics by 2024: We’ll enshrine this in provincial legislation.
- Working with municipalities to improve recycling and composting service delivery everywhere in Ontario.