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Field nats quiz council hopefuls on climate change, MZOs

Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists sent out questionnaire to candidates running in Midland, Penetanguishene, Tiny along with acclaimed Tay council members
2020-10-08 ap
Concerns were initially raised about wetlands on this future Midland construction site, but a consulting biologist said they're not considered 'provincially significant.' Andrew Philips/MidlandToday

The results from Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists’ first-ever municipal election candidates questionnaire are in.

The local club sent a list of five questions to candidates running in Midland, Penetanguishene and Tiny Township as well as acclaimed council members in Tay Township along with those vying for election in Georgian Bay Township.

And while the club notes that even though climate change and environmental issues are the most important challenge and crisis facing the world today, these issues often receive little attention in local election campaigns.

“Tax rates, parking meters and harbour parking lots seem to hog all the limelight,” the club says.

“We believe local governments need to join the fight against climate change and for the preservation of the environment. Here's a statistic from the Federation of Canadian municipalities website: Greenhouse Gas emissions in Canada that municipalities have influence over – 50%.”

Compiled by club president Susan Hirst, vice president Bob Codd and program director Ken MacDonald, the questions are as follows.

  1. Could you give an example or two from your personal or public life of something you have done in an effort to mitigate climate change and/or protect the environment?
  2. How high among the concerns of an elected Municipal Official would you place Climate Change mitigation? Could you briefly describe policies and actions you would like to see enacted for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in your municipality?
  3. Are you aware of and in support of The Simcoe County Municipal Comprehensive Review – DRAFT Climate Change Strategy of October 2021?  Would you support the recommendation of the Review: that municipalities should prepare standalone climate change action plans?
  4. Without protective policies, our natural spaces will be under constant threat to urbanization.  Where do you stand on Greenbelt protection and its expansion to Simcoe County? Are you concerned with the increasing use of provincial Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) to circumvent municipal planning processes and environmental protections?
  5. Degradation of wetlands, quarrying for aggregate, air pollution, pollution of Lake Simcoe, Severn Sound and Georgian Bay, fragmentation of wildlife habitat, protection of endangered species, loss of biodiversity, control of invasive species are all significant problems. Which of these issues is most urgent and which would you work on if elected?

In Midland, council candidates Roberta Bald, Jim Downer, Sheldon East, Bill Meridis, Beth Marie Prost and Matthew Vaters did not reply.

In Penetanguishene, Mike MacRae, Suzanne Marchand and Michael Mayotte did not submit responses while in Tiny deputy mayoral candidate Steve Saltsman as well as council candidates Dave Brunelle, Ema Canadic and Stephen McNamara did not respond to the survey. Fellow council candidate Anna Aggio replied that due a family emergency she was unable to respond by the deadline.

In Tay, meanwhile, none of the acclaimed council candidates responded, save for Deputy Mayor Barrie Norris and Mayor Ted Walker.

The responses for Midland candidates can be found here, Penetanguishene here, Tiny here and Tay and Georgian Bay Township here.

Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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