When will Science based Intelligence Kick In at the Provincial Level?

We the People of Ontario Deserve That,  And We Should Demand It When It Comes to Protecting Our Environment!

A Commentary by Klara Young-Chin, a resident and a member of Friends of One Mile Creek in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Posted May 1st, 2019 on Niagara At Large

In a recent story from CTV, I read  in disbelief about this provincial government’s decision to eliminate a program that is aimed at planting 50 million trees in urban areas in Ontario.

Here are some key points from the the CTV story –

  • “The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry told Forests Ontario the day after the Progressive Conservative government delivered its budget this month that the 50 Million Tree Program was being eliminated.”
  • ” Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario, said since 2008 more than 27 million trees have been planted across Ontario through the program, which saved landowners up to 90 per cent of the costs of large-scale tree planting.”
  • “About 40 per cent forest cover is needed to ensure forest sustainability, Keen said, and the average right now in southern Ontario is 26 per cent, with some areas as low as 5 per cent.”
  • “ The program’s annual budget was about $4.7 million, Keen said, and Forests Ontario was told it was being cancelled as a way to cut provincial costs.”
  • “ A spokeswoman for Natural Resources and Forestry Minister John Yakabuski said the government is committed to balancing the budget in a responsible manner.”
  • “ Justine Lewkowicz said in a statement that the forestry industry, which depends on a sustainable supply of wood, is a responsible steward of the province’s forests.”
  • “ On average, the forestry industry plants 68 million trees per year, creating jobs for foresters, nurseries, and tree planters,” she wrote. She did not say how many trees are harvested per year.”

I would like to point out that the 68 million trees (referred to in the CTV story) replanted in the forestry sector, is mandated by law up in Northern Ontario, after trees are harvested by the industry. There are no new forests being created.

The Ontario program of 50 million trees was successful in Southern regions of the province through the planting of those trees on smaller acreages. Most of that planting takes place with the co-operation of private landowners, which is vital since we are dealing with issues of urban sprawl and more direct effects of climate change.

The front cover of a report  on the economic value of planting trees that Forests Ontario published earlier this year, less than two months before the Ontario government cut funding from the organization’s tree planting program

Through all of this, new tracts of forest were being created.

Whatever backward thinking that led to the axing of this tree-planting program speaks to a crucial education of awareness needed for our provincial leaders when it comes to our environment.

I would have thought that young Mr. Sam Oosterhoff,  MPP for Niagara West, who will be 54 years old – the same age as his boss, Doug Ford, is now – in the year 2051, would be very concerned and would have spoken up about the ill-advised decision to cut this program.

If Mr. Oosterhoff is around in the year 2051 and if, by then, he has a family of his own, I wonder what he will say to his children and members of his family, and others if he does not speak up now.

Will our Niagara West representative in the Ontario Legislature take up the  challenge?

He might anger his boss, but he would be a hero who would be admired for years to come.

I appeal to you Mr. Oosterhoff, listen to your conscience, take a stand, and speak up. You are representing the youth, it’s your future.

In the meantime, please watch a 37-second timelapse of urban sprawl over 35 years in the city of Toronto and area by clicking on – https://www.blogto.com/tech/2019/04/google-earth-toronto/.

Klara Young-Chin is a resident of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and a member of Friends of One Mile Creek at friendsofonemilecreek.org .

To visit the CTV story referred to in this commentary, click on – https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/ontario-cancels-program-that-aimed-to-plant-50-million-trees1

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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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