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Green leader's campaign trickles through Elmvale to talk water, gravel permits

'Water is life and we have to do everything we can to protect it,' provincial Green Party leader says during local stop

The rain, wind and sleet didn’t deter supporters of Ontario’s Green Party from coming out to a Save Our Water rally at the Elmvale Flow, Tuesday afternoon.

The event, which included a visit by Green Party leader Mike Schreiner, focused on bringing attention to protecting what has been touted as some of the purest groundwater on the planet. 

“Water is life and we have to do everything we can to protect it,” Schreiner told the crowd of approximately 30 people, while also thanking area residents for continuing their fight over the years. “I want to thank all of you… who have gone on protests at Queen’s Park with me to protect our water. It shows your commitment to protecting this water in this place that you love.

"And I want to thank all of you who were at Queen’s Park on World Water Day  the day I filed a motion… calling for an immediate moratorium on new gravel mining permits  and extensions on existing permits," he added. "We need to put a stop to the threats to our water and until we better understand what those threats are  and whether we actually need all of this gravel mining in the first place.”

New open-pit gravel mines, and expansion of existing ones, are a direct threat to the community’s water, added local Green Party candidate Elyse Robinson, who is running in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. 

Schreiner added that since that day, he has released his party’s plan to double the size of the Green Belt and to have a “Blue Belt” to protect water throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including up through Simcoe County.

Schreiner noted he also wants to see municipalities' ability to say “no” to permits that allow companies to take water from below the water table restored.

“(That’s) a power the Ford government took away from our local democracy,” he said. 

Schreiner also expressed his gratitude to supporters who have continued to work toward putting a stop to urban sprawl.

“We know there is a direct connection between gravel mining, sprawl and climate pollution. The bottom line is we are in a climate emergency and we have to reduce climate pollution right now,” he said. “We have to protect the farmland that feeds us and the wetlands that protect us from flooding and clean our drinking water.”

The provincial election will take place June 2.