In the lead-up to last fall’s general election in Ontario, Sustainable Waterloo Region partnered to create a non-partisan expert review of the energy policies of leading political parties, entitled Ontario’s Energy Future: A Climate Change Perspective, with the goal of informing the debate surrounding the province’s energy and climate future. Now, one year later, residents of the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo will head to the polls in a by-election scheduled on Thursday, September 6th and Sustainable Waterloo Region has asked each of the four leading candidates to contribute a guest blog and inform the reader:
- How their party’s platform has evolved over the past year
- What they see as the most pressing environmental issues in Waterloo Region and Ontario as a whole
- How the provincial government can support organizations in becoming more environmentally sustainable
- Why they, and their party, are the best choice for action on the environment and organizational sustainability
The blogs will be released un-edited in the same order as they are received.–Candidate Response: Stacey Danckert, Green Party of Ontario.
In this by-election, you are probably considering how your vote can make a difference in our community and province. Like me, you want to see K-W reach its potential and become an even better place in which to work and live.
Having sat on the Environmental Advisory Committee for Kitchener City Council, I’ve most enjoyed working with great people to implement various positive plans to improve our community.
I’m running as a Green Party of Ontario (GPO) candidate because I’m committed to moving solutions forward that will strengthen our environment and economy. If elected, I commit to use my deciding vote in the Legislature to effect positive change.
Since the last election, the GPO has led on key environmental issues in Ontario. We have run campaigns to prevent logging in Temagami, continued to press the government on the issue of the Mega-quarry, and most recently to make sure that key environmental protections weren’t dismantled in the last budget. We also have kept up the pressure on the energy front, continuing to advocate for smart energy policy that focuses on conservation, and against expensive new nuclear.
Below, I’ll outline what actions I would take as MPP, on three key environmental issues in Ontario.
1. Energy generation and conservation
It has been extremely disappointing to see the government continue to throw good money after bad by looking to increase our nuclear energy supply.
For half the amount of a new nuclear power plant, we can retrofit 1.6 million homes to save the same amount of electricity while creating 90 times more jobs. The high environmental risks of nuclear energy are not worth it when we can make choices that are cheaper, create more jobs, and are more sustainable.
As your MPP, I would work to prevent nuclear cost overruns from being passed to our households and businesses. I will also push to have the Home Energy Retrofit program reinstated and expanded. By providing tax credits for business, organizations and individuals to invest in energy efficiency and building retrofits we can make organizations more efficient and businesses more competitive.
2. Active transportation
As a GO train rider myself, I know the trials and tribulations of transit in K-W and the region. And while I support investments in making sure that Hwy 7 is safe, building a new highway (through farmland and wetlands) is not the best choice. Transportation and infrastructure initiatives need careful planning and shouldn’t be part of an election-promises goodie bag.
My goal is to promote policies and investments that will make our community a model of efficiency, innovation, and sustainability for Ontario. I will work towards investments that spur local job creation, and improve our regional and local transit options.
I will support investments in active transportation to help tackle gridlock, make our roads safer, create health benefits that will reduce pressure on our health care budget, and support our local businesses.
Currently, Ontario has no dedicated funding to support cycling or pedestrian infrastructure. In comparison, Quebec spends $200 million on cycling infrastructure and earns $135 million each year from bicycle tourism alone. The US dedicates 1.6% of its transportation budget for states to invest in cycling infrastructure.
As MPP, I will push to dedicate 1% of our transportation budget to cycling infrastructure and 1% for pedestrian infrastructure.
3. Wolf Lake in Temagami
Wolf Lake is home to the largest old-growth red pine forest in the world. Located in the Temagami canoe area, Wolf Lake Reserve is part of an endangered ecosystem that is estimated to be only 1.2% of its former size.
Late last year, the government threatened to remove “forest reserve” status from this diverse ecosystem that has thrived for centuries, which would have opened the area to mining. After a successful campaign opposing this change, Wolf Lake kept its reserve status. However, the area is still not protected from logging.
I believe this diverse ecosystem deserves permanent protection, and will advocate for making the area an official Ontario Park.
Every vote for the Green Party and for me, sends the message to Queen’s Park that short-term politics-as-usual won’t cut it; that what you really want is to make sure our government makes decisions that will create a prosperous province for our children and grandchildren.
Elizabeth May has set an incredible example in the House of Commons, standing up for issues the other parties are afraid to talk about. I am committed to bringing this same leadership and fresh, sensible ideas to Queen’s Park.
—For more on Stacey’s platform, visit www.danckert.ca.
Sustainable Waterloo Region is a non-partisan organization as does not endorse any candidate or party. For more information on this series and to view the other candidates posts see Ontario’s Energy Future and the Kitchener-Waterloo By-Election.