Vote For Only Those Candidates Who Promise to Protect and Preserve What is Left of our Precious, Life-Sustaining Natural Heritage
A Message from Ontario Nature, a group dedicated to advocating for healthy natural places in Ontario
Posted October 3rd, 2022 on Niagara At Large
On October 24th, Ontarians will return to the polls to vote for their municipal leaders. The mayors and councilors elected will play a vital role ensuring a healthy, sustainable future for our communities.
Please keep nature, farmland and climate change top of mind when you cast your ballot. Here’s why:
- Municipal governments set the direction for protecting natural areas and systems in our communities. Globally, we are facing an unprecedented and accelerating loss of biodiversity. Locally, strong environmental policies and plans are vital to stem the loss. And of course, words on paper aren’t sufficient – the political will to ensure municipal decisions align with good policy is also key.
- Municipal leaders can prevent sprawl and preserve farmland by freezing urban boundary expansion and embracing smart growth. Loss of farmland in Ontario is on the rise. Currently, we are losing 319 acres of farmland daily. Municipal leaders can make a difference by opposing major highway expansions and refusing to seek Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs), which override policies intended to protect farmland and natural heritage.
- Municipal leaders can increase housing supply and affordability by updating zoning rules to promote infill development and gentle density (e.g., smaller scale apartment buildings, semi-detached homes, townhomes and co-housing). Affordable housing does not require sacrificing what’s left of our wetlands, forests and farmland to highways and urban sprawl.
- Municipal leaders must recognize that investing in the protection of natural areas and farmland makes economic sense. For example, in southern Ontario, wetlands provide over $4 billion in water filtration benefits per year and conserving them can reduce flood damage costs by close to 40 percent.
- Municipal governments can take action to address the climate emergency. Since 2019, dozens of communities across Ontario, from Kenora to Ottawa to Sarnia, have declared climate emergencies. Aiming to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, they are developing plans to become net carbon neutral by 2050, for example, by promoting public transportation, walking and biking, investing in energy efficiency and electric retrofits, and generating local clean energy. Conserving near-urban nature is another cost-effective measure municipalities can take to enhance climate resilience and store carbon.
With the right people at the helm, we can move towards sustainable communities. Vote for leaders who are prepared to be responsible custodians of our long-term future.
What You Can Do
Be an informed voter. Find out more about your local candidates and, where applicable, their voting record on environmental matters. Local news outlets and your municipal website are good sources of information about your candidates.
Ask your candidates for mayor and council what they will do to protect nature, farmland and the climate through email, visiting campaign offices or when they come to your door.
Attend all-candidate debates and ask candidates for their stances on the five priorities above.
Share this blog with your friends and family.
If you’re not already on the voters list, register to vote. Your municipal website will have information on how to register.
Most importantly: VOTE on October 24th. You can also ask for information about whether your municipality is offering alternative voting methods such as vote by mail or internet voting.
About Ontario Nature – Ontario Nature is a conservation organization that protects wild species and spaces through conservation, education and public engagement.
A registered charity (# 10737 8952 RR0001), Ontario Nature represents more than 30,000 members and supporters, and more than 155 member groups from across Ontario.
For more on Ontario Nature, click on – https://ontarionature.org/
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