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LETTER: Bill 23 'seriously threatens' Ontario

Letter writer believes Bill 23 'does little to address the key challenges' we face and destroys improvements in policy and legislation made over the years
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BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is from Tom Kurtz, who believes Bill 23 will create an imbalance to ecological systems and shatter improvements in policy and legislative
Those who don’t study history are bound to repeat it.

Bill 23 seriously threatens years of progressive policy and legislative improvements that have made Ontario a great place to live, work and recreate in a safe environment that respects the complicated interaction of the various components of the landscape in which we cohabit with all the other aspects of our ecological systems.

In the first half of the 20th century, unbridled development led to severe problems with flooding, erosion, loss of connected habitat, etc., in the province. This was brought to the attention of the then Progressive Conservative provincial government by concerned citizens and the academic community.

Examination of the problem led to the conclusion that all of the components of the environment are interdependent (you can’t alter one without considering the effect on others). This is particularly true in the case of water management (any alteration that you make in an upstream community is likely to have an effect on a downstream community).

This led to a recommendation that a system of watershed-based organizations should be established that permitted municipalities to cooperate with each other with respect to matters that affected their shared environment.

The Progressive Conservative government of the day saw the wisdom of this recommendation and thus passed an act called the Conservation Authorities Act (1946). This was permissive legislation which allowed municipalities within a watershed to band together to give common cause to the management of environmental concerns within their area of jurisdiction.

The acceptance of this approach is best reflected in the fact that over 90 per cent of the populated part of the province is now part of the 36 existing conservation authorities (CA). The technical success of this program is reflected in the fact that much has been done to reduce the devastating effects of flooding and erosion; habitats and habitat corridors have been protected and enhanced; stream ecology and fisheries have been protected; land for recreational enjoyment and environmental education has been acquired and managed; the CAs are integrally involved in the management of the provincial source water protection program. I could go on, but you get my gist!

Bill 23 would negate most of what CAs do and expect the municipalities to pick up the slack (if they were allowed to be involved at all).

Bill 23 does little to address the key challenges that we, as a society, will face if we are to construct homes for Ontario’s immigration allotment (~ 300,000 people/yr.) The challenges can be categorized into some of the following areas:

  • Land availability: Already enough land already approved to satisfy needs. Negates the need to chip away at the Greenbelt.
  • Education availability: Not addressed
  • Healthcare (doctors, hospitals, etc.): Not addressed
  • Availability and training of tradespeople to build homes: Not addressed
  • Supply chain problems: Not addressed
  • Water supply and sewage disposal: Not addressed

And the list goes on. All of these areas except land availability have a current deficit and most, if not all, are a direct or indirect responsibility of the province. Unless drastic action is taken to address these areas of provincial jurisdiction, we as citizens and our children and grandchildren will be doomed to continue to live with crowded schools, inadequately paid educational support staff, not enough health care workers or hospital infrastructure to house them; not enough trained tradespeople nor enough material in a timely fashion to build the houses; inadequate planning as to the ability of an area to supply water or accept sewage.

And the list goes on!

All of the spin-off effects of building more houses need to be examined in a more holistic way in order to ensure that what ends up after many sacrifices is not more of the same.

Perhaps, if this problem is addressed properly, the Ford Government will once again have the legitimate right to call themselves the Progressive Conservative Government of Ontario, just like their forefathers in 1946!

Just sayin'.

Tom Kurtz