Working to Protect Ontario’s Watersheds, their Natural Heritage, and our Receiving Waters
January 11, 2021: Revamped Website and new project – Headwater Alliances
As we face on-going challenges to protect Ontario’s environment, the OHI is please to announce a new project, Headwater Alliances as well as the first headwater alliance, for the Credit watershed, in partnership with 8 local organizations.
The OHI will be facilitating the creation of these alliances in order to develop Community Visions to help us better protect our headwater areas in the future than how we have managed the downstream areas of most of South-central Ontario in the past.
You can learn more at https://ontarioheadwaters.ca/headwater-alliances/, and of course we are happy to chat with you if your area could benefit from establishing a local alliance. Please feel free to e-mail me at the address above or call me at 416 231 9484.
The new project is described on a rejuvenated OHI website, including an updated organizational Brochure, a Backgrounder on Watershed Management, a Fact Sheet on Wetlands, a second Fact Sheet on What can I do?, and a higher profile for our YouTube channel, all at https://ontarioheadwaters.ca/education/.
We will also be linking Headwater Alliances to WaterScape and the Declaration to Preserve Ontario’s Ecological Integrity, which if you have not yet signed you can do so here.
We look forward to continuing to press for a sustainability lens for land use planning in Ontario, transitioning the province to Integrated Watershed Management, and including headwater areas in enhanced watershed mapping, planning, monitoring, reporting, and restoration.
Andrew McCammon, Executive Director.
Feb 26, 2019: Ontario’s Obsolete Approach to Planning
At a time when both the planet and south-central Ontario appear to be approaching various tipping points related to greenhouse gas emissions, access to clean water, and food security, the Province has turned its vision for development from the future to the past.
The onslaught began with Bill 66, which sought to allow municipalities a license to ignore the Greenbelt Act, the Clean Water Act, the civil right of public notice and consultation, and the legal right to appeal in order to develop secret bylaws to approve new employment lands, when Ontario has an inventory of more than 16,000 hectares zoned and ready as employment lands. The public hue and cry against an unnecessary effort to convert additional agricultural land and greenspace led to an announcement that the government would withdraw the offending sections of Bill 66. It has not yet done so.
Next came consultations on a housing strategy. The consultations were focused on five areas in which housing needed improvement: the speed of approvals, the mix of available housing choices, housing costs, access to rental housing, and innovation. The OHI asked four questions, seeking to know if the government had:
- Data that demonstrates any existing or pending shortage of housing lands;
- Data on key land classifications where new housing lands may be located – eg: by either expediting construction on existing housing lands, converting employment lands to housing lands, or converting agricultural lands;
- Material that demonstrates how much time can be saved in various changes to the approvals process to get from a development application to say 10% new home occupancy rates; and,
- Projections in end price cost savings for new homes under various scenarios under a proposed new housing strategy.
The answer to our request was: thank you for writing.
More recently, the government announced its desire to amend the Growth Plan, with comments due February 28. While the plan has some redeemable qualities, key negative aspects include allowing for urban expansion into greenspace, lowering density targets, and weakening or not pursuing natural heritage and agricultural system mapping and related policy initiatives. This, like the other initiatives, casts planning as a quantitative exercise where people will only be able to balance home prices with commute times rather than make a qualitative investment in a community where people want to live. You can see our submission here.
Rather than take a progressive and conservative approach to planning, the Ontario government is turning the clock back at least 15 years, abandoning its responsibility for environmental protection, food security, sustainable planning, complete communities, employment for the 21st century, and social and economic well-being.
The OHI urges the government to do better.