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Province launches environmental plan at Cold Creek

December 6, 2018   ·   0 Comments

Written By MARK PAVILONS  AND JOSHUA SANTOS

Ontario’s new environmental plan will meet global reduction targets without “picking the pockets of taxpayers.”

King’s rural topography drew officials from Queen’s Park last week, to officially launch the new Preserving and Protecting our Environment for Future Generations: A Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. It includes actions to integrate tangible environmental solutions that save people and businesses money, address local priorities, and support communities in doing their part for the environment.

King-Vaughan MPP Stephen Lecce played host to Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, at Cold Creek Conservation Area, just east of Bolton.

“I’m proud to highlight the important actions our government is taking to conserve our natural environment, reduce litter, and protect our rivers, lakes, and land, Lecce said. We are building upon our party’s record – from creating the TTC, to building the vast majority of our subway network to closing the first coal power plant in Ontario, and creating the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Act that has protested our green space for a generation. We are moving forward with a made-in-Ontario plan while not punishing families, commuters or small businesses with a punitive carbon tax.

“We promised the people of Ontario that we are serious about addressing the environmental challenges of our day while respecting hardworking taxpayers – and we are keeping that promise, said Phillips. This made-in-Ontario plan is tailored to our province’s specific priorities and region-based challenges and opportunities.”

The plan will protect and preserve the environment, Phillips said, without the punishing impacts of the carbon tax.

The government will hold polluters accountable with stronger enforcement and tougher penalties for breaking environmental laws. The emission standards will also consider factors such as trade-exposure, competitiveness and process-emissions and will include the authority to introduce exemptions for Ontario’s auto sector and other exposed industries as needed.

The plan represents a “clean break from the status quo” and balances a healthy environment with a healthy economy. Ontario, he said, has a solid track record of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but we have to take even greater ownership of our environment. Ontario leads the way in reducing emissions by 22% since 2005, putting us only 8% away from the international targets set out in the Paris Agreement – 30% reduction by 2030.

Phillips said the plan makes these goals achievable and puts us on a more stable path.

Phillips pointed out the government, in preparing the plan, consulted with the public, receiving more than 8,000 submissions. The government will continue to consult and engage stakeholders in the months to come.

Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones highlighted the ministry’s objective to increase transparency in allowing real time monitoring of when sewage overflow or bypass occurs. She said she has been fighting for it aggressively when she was in opposition.

“When I was in opposition, I actually had a private member’s bill on this, said Jones. I think it just makes sense that the public should be aware when there is a sewage bypass often as a result of heavy rain or very quick melt that our families, our communities know so they can stay safe and ultimately appreciate the value and importance of our infrastructure system.”

Jones said the plan goes a long way to ensure there is clean water and parks.

“We’re trying to expand the amount of individuals who have access to our Ontario parks systems, said Jones. These are critically important public assets and we need to make sure that they are available for as many Ontarians as possible.”

She said the plan will actually empower people to be part of the solution in the battle against climate change.

“We have and are offering concrete examples of how individuals can keep their water ways safe, keep their public parks and open public spaces safe, clean and litter free, that all speaks to our ability as individuals to make a difference,” said Jones.

The plan has four main components – protecting our air, lakes and rivers; addressing climate change; reducing litter, waste and keeping the soil clean, and conserving land and greenspace.

Phillips said the plan offers a “sensible, achievable approach,” that sets standards and makes industry and polluters accountable.

The government also plans a province-wide climate change assessment, to document impacts in all regions of Ontario. With that data, we can all work together to find solutions.

The bottom line is the plan will help us leave the province better than we found it, without any extra cost.

They have decided to take the lowest cost option, and some argue it doesn’t go far enough.

Phillips said the province is using the benchmarks set out in Paris, and adopted by our own federal government.

“Our plan gets us to that objective,” he said. “Industry is enthusiastic about working with us.”

While Ontario is at odds with the federal government’s carbon tax, Phillips said he hopes to meet with federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna to discuss the plan.

         

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