CollingwoodToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to an article regarding a move by The Blue Mountains council to protect the environment, published Jan. 25.
Kudos to Town of The Blue Mountains council for making the right decision and voting to pass a proposal to increase the collaboration between regional municipalities and upper tiers of government to protect the environment and our threatened greenspaces.
Ontarians deeply care about environmental protection. Opinion polls regularly show that environmental issues are a top concern for voters in our province. This is clearly demonstrated by the unusually diverse alliance of groups and individuals across Ontario that continue to rise up in opposition to Doug Ford’s Bill 23.
Protecting our unique and irreplaceable natural assets is an objective that Ontarians want leadership on. Provincially, we are lagging dreadfully behind in meeting Canada’s 30-by-30 goals and our precious escarpment, one of the richest, most biodiverse areas, could be damaged irreparably by pending mega-developments.
We have also recently learned from the auditor general’s report on the Niagara Escarpment Commission that the protection we thought the Niagara Escarpment Plan afforded us, like the Greenbelt Act, is getting weaker by the year. The citizens, businesses and governments of Southern Georgian Bay need to stand united and do their part.
This requires firm and formal processes — and that cannot be established without leadership by our elected officials. And the Town of The Blue Mountain’s council has shown exactly that by putting forward and voting for a motion to design such a process for our region.
What is even better is that it is not “just another process.” It’s an idea that intentionally aims to share the responsibility that both private and public stakeholders have when it comes to land conservation across our escarpment. What better way to do that than by bringing together all involved stakeholders and collaborating on this specific issue?
Environmental matters are too interconnected to maintain strict boundaries between the involved stakeholders. What happens in Clearview matters to Collingwood. What happens in The Blue Mountains matters to Grey Highlands. However, it’s not just important to hold each other accountable. What matters, too, is supporting each other. The voice of smaller municipalities can be exponentially stronger when requesting help from the provincial government or pushing back against powerful private-sector interests. We are much stronger when we can benefit from each other’s experiences, input, research, and expertise.
In the context of land conservation across the escarpment, all of our region’s municipalities are in the same boat and there should be a formal process to ensure collaboration. Without these formal processes, the conservation of our environment will be left to chance and lucky circumstances.
That’s not just a bad situation; it’s a dangerous situation. For all of us. Council’s idea is a strong proposal to protect the environment — and our democratic processes. The Escarpment Corridor Alliance, board, volunteers and supporters look forward to engaging in a positive and meaningful way in 2023.
President, Escarpment Corridor Alliance