SIMCOE COUNTY GREENBELT COALITION
An initiative undertaken by the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition has had more than 70 municipal candidates across Simcoe County sign a pledge as a part of their Community Leaders for a Sustainable Simcoe, or CLASS, program.
CLASS is aimed at being a supportive and educational network for community leaders who are tired of petty politics and want to strengthen the health of their communities. The public can find out which candidates in their community signed the pledge at https://bit.ly/SimcoeCLASS.
The pledge covers a range of topics, including commitments to transition towards renewables, making communities more affordable with more housing types and limiting sprawl, ensuring safer and more vibrant public spaces, protecting water and farmland, and increasing food insecurity.
Margaret Prophet, executive director of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition (SCGC), believes that these types of initiatives are a great first step to enable positive leadership.
“We are all getting tired of petty politics. People want to know that their governments are focused on improving their well-being — current and future — and not constantly distracted by the politics of divisiveness. They want to know that their representatives are using reason and evidence to make decisions rather than bias or influence from bad actors who only care about personal profit. A pledge like this is attractive to candidates who put people and community first. For voters it helps them see who is willing to put their money where their mouth is and publicly commit to a positive, community-centred set of values. Down the road it helps citizens keep leaders accountable to a positive vision for what our communities can be.”
The CLASS initiative isn’t simply a pledge, either. Three webinars were held in September for municipal candidates on food insecurity, protecting local water, and addressing the housing affordability crisis. Over 100 municipal leaders attended these educational webinars, which are now on SCGC’s YouTube channel.
Finally, CLASS will continue to provide opportunities for members to meet, network, build capacity, and share information. The goal of CLASS is to support municipal leaders in making the best choices for their communities, and to do this by building a network of positive, informed politics across Simcoe County.
Prophet says, “The problems we face are too serious to expect our municipal leaders to go it alone. All of us need to pitch in. It starts with supporting hopeful leaders and then connecting as a community to move towards a better future together.”