Ecologists speak up against Ford’s attacks on wetlands

Wednesday, November 09, 2022
Canoe in sunset. End of image description

Save Ontario Wetlands is a grassroots campaign started by wetland ecologists in response to an unprecedented attack on the province’s wetlands. In using Minister’s Zoning Orders as loopholes to pave over Provincially Significant Wetlands and repeated attacks on Ontario’s Conservation Authorities Doug Ford’s Conservative government has demonstrated contempt for these keystone ecosystems. The latest threat comes from Bill 23 — the More Homes Built Faster Act and related changes that will create a gold rush of sprawl development and put Ontario’s wetlands in jeopardy.

Ontario faces a crisis in housing affordability, but Bill 23 will not solve the problem. Sprawl does not create affordable housing — it leads to car dependency and higher property taxes. Most regions in Ontario already have enough land dedicated to development to meet their housing needs, but now Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark is overriding Hamilton’s official plan forcing them to expand. We need sustainable cities with affordable housing, not sprawl.

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Wetlands are our allies in sustainability. Across Ontario, we have already lost 60-90 per cent of the wetlands here, which means we have to work harder to clean our water, protect ourselves from flooding, and support species at risk. We must save all the wetlands that remain and start restoring the wetlands that were lost. The proposed changes to Ontario's wetland evaluation system will mean fewer wetlands in Ontario are protected. Similarly, just last year Minister Clark promised not to develop the Greenbelt. Now he’s breaking his promise — threatening food security, flood protection, and species at risk.

wetland loss in ontario 2001-2011wetlands loss in Ontario 2011-2018

This is why Save Ontario Wetlands is calling on the provincial government to stop Bill 23, drop changes to the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System, and honour their promise to protect the Greenbelt. We are inviting you to take action below — clicking on the tabs below will let you email, call and tweet at relevant MPPs and share your actions on social media. 

 

In addition to reaching out to your own MPP and sharing your concerns, we suggest contacting Premier Doug Ford and Minister Clark. Let them know that breaking their promise not to develop the greenbelt and overriding the official plans developed by municipalities to encourage sprawl will not solve the housing crisis but will worsen the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis.

Bill 23 is also before the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy, which is holding meetings to discuss the More Homes Built Faster Act between Wednesday, Nov. 9 and Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. We encourage you to reach out to MPP Laurie Scott, who chairs the committee, and to MPP Laura Mae Lindo, who is the committee’s vice-chair. You can also submit a written statement to the committee up to Nov. 17.

For more information and updates, be sure to follow #SaveOntarioWetlands on Twitter and visit the Save Ontario Wetlands website.

 


 

Rebecca Rooney PhD

Principal Investigator, Waterloo Wetland Lab

Associate Professor, Department of Biology

University of Waterloo

Andrea Kirkwood PhD

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences

Ontario Tech University

Courtney Robichaud, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow, Carleton University

 

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