by Darlene Coyle, Environmental Policy and Planning Lead at Watersheds Canada
Keeping up the momentum from our Engaging Elected Municipal Officials to Protect our Freshwater webinar, now is the time to act!
Candidates across Ontario are campaigning for the upcoming municipal election on October 24th and it is up to you to bring freshwater issues to the top of the agenda. This is especially true since municipalities readily market their clean, beautiful, healthy freshwater for tourism, growth, and development — we need to prioritize the big issues!
Despite the fact that municipal decision-making directly affects how people gain access to, use, and experience our freshwater resources, municipal elections are often poorly attended in Ontario, ranging from 48-38% voter turnout (AMO, 2022).
But this election is special.
With ambitious climate change targets set for 2030, the new council coming out of this year’s election will have a big hand in whether these targets are reached. Shorelands restored with dense native vegetation can help reach these targets as a natural climate solution by:
- Mitigating erosion
- Capturing and storing carbon dioxide
- Managing flood risks
- Filtering pollutants from surface runoff before they enter the water
- Providing wildlife habitat
- Providing shade in increasingly hot summers
It is not only important to vote but engage your candidates on issues you care most about, namely the protection of our freshwater resources, which support economic development through tourism, offer many recreational opportunities, provide beautiful landscapes, and support biodiversity.
To help get the conversation going and assess whether your candidates have freshwater health in mind, here are our top 5 questions we think property owners should ask their municipal candidates:
- What do you want to achieve in 4 years to help your municipality become a sustainability leader? How will you measure your success?
- How will you pursue meaningful public consultation and open dialogue with residents?
- How will you promote scientific evidence when making decisions?
- How do you plan on investing in waterfront restoration in the face of increased development pressures?
- How will you embrace partnerships with environmental organizations to help in the protection and restoration of waterfront areas?
Let us all make the most of this election season by making freshwater protection and restoration a top priority!
Planning for our Shorelands (PFOS) is a program that presents webinars and best practices resources to address common and very complex problems facing waterfront communities today such as: water quality, fish and wildlife, erosion, and flood risks. We are addressing this problem by promoting an ecosystem-based approach in land use decision-making.