As a biologist who spent over 30 years in the field and in business devising strategies to protect wildlife, I am very concerned about the future of our environment. Given Midland’s location and abundance of significant natural resources, protecting our environment must have a high priority. We see evidence all around that we need to continue and redouble our efforts soon to deal with potential degradation of our waters, shorelines, wetlands and other ecological features that make Midland unique .
Whether we realize it or not yet, changes happening in the Great Lakes will eventually reach our community. The lake’s natural defences against toxic algae blooms, invasive species and shrinking ice cover appears to be weakening. For example, ice coverage on the Great Lakes has declined an average of 71 per cent over the past 40 years, according to the American Meteorological Society. That’s caused increased evaporation and more frequent and intense storms that batter shorelines and fish habitat. We note from interactions with the Beausoleil First Nation community on Christian Island that fish stocks have declined dramatically there and across Georgian Bay threatening many indigenous livelihoods. These and other related changes could have a direct impact on Midland’s prosperity.
While senior levels of government are struggling to develop policies, for example imposing a national carbon tax, local actions and decisions by municipalities have the most direct effect on the local problems. Already, there is considerable content in the official plan aimed at reducing the Town’s carbon footprint and protecting the environment, e.g. active transportation and intensification targets for housing.
Since 2013, Midland’s corporate fleet has reduced emission of greenhouse gases significantly. The Town’s plan to replace sewers under King Street (the big dig) will eliminate discharge of sewage into the bay during major storms. The development of Midland Bay Landing including exclusive public waterfront access to an upgraded shoreline will transform a contaminated industrial site to parkland integrated with commercial and residential development. At its meeting on 24 September 2018, Council agreed to participate in the Partners for Climate Protection program and its commitment to achieving the milestones set out in the five-milestone framework. These are only a few examples showing how the Town can and will continue to include environmental considerations in planning and operations. But there is much more to do.
As we grow, and the provincial government imposes new environmental regulations, The Town will need to develop new policies and reassess all its plans to include adequate measures to protect the environment. These changes must balance environmental concerns with the rights of property owners and financial costs to the Town.
Throughout this complex process, as your Mayor I will commit to full public consultations with all residents and stakeholders to ensure we do the right thing for all citizens (current and future) and for the environment.
Some Sources for further reading
Narwhal October 10, 2018
Town of Midland Council Agenda24 September 2018 (see segment on Sustainable Severn Sound)
Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 (Policy 126.96.36.199)
Ontario’s Community GHG Reduction PlanDecember 2017
Ontario’s Five-Year Climate Change Action Plan 2016-2020 (CCAP) 2016