We’ve all heard the tale of the stranded sailor who says "Water, water everywhere yet not a drop to drink.” Well if we don’t take care of our plentiful hydro resources we might face the same maddening situation.
That’s the message a group of environmental coalitions dedicated to protecting the Oak Ridges Moraine (also called southern Ontario’s "rain barrel’’) want the province to hear. The moraine can’t wait and yet the government seems to push the problem to the fringes, largely ignoring it. Issues at stake include the depletion of water resources and even more concerning is the chance of polluting our drinking water.
STORM (Save the Oak Ridges Moraine) is the coalition that has committed itself to protecting the vast expanses that stretch from the Trent River out east to the Niagara escarpment in the west. The moraine in itself is a natural treasure. It works as a recharge and discharge depot for groundwater and in turn supplies drinking water to more than 250, 000 people.
The most worrying this is that Canada’s biggest city, Toronto, is a stone’s throw away from it and supplies the colossal cosmopolitan with sand & gravel for urban construction projects.
Yet balancing development and the moraine’s environmental importance is a precarious business fraught with several challenges. In the ten years since the province passed the legislation called ‘’The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan’’ several concerns and weaknesses have been constantly coming up says Debbe Crandall who is the executive director of STORM.
The lack of concern from the government is reflected by the fact that the plan was supposed to be reviewed in 2012 but that has been pushed back to 2015. Regardless, environmental groups know that three years can be a lot of time and they think at least some of the activities within the plan need to be regulated more stringently now.
The Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation was created right after the plan and given $15 million by the province to invest in projects and education about the moraine. The foundation raised a further $35.8 million on its own, funding 177 projects. But Kim Gavine, executive director of the foundation says that funding taps are running dry. It could be resolved by bringing concerned individuals to the table in order to work with landowners to restore streams and forests.
The province has been ignoring their demands for more funding and they fear they’ll have to ultimately have to shut their doors in the not so distant future. John Wilkinson, the minister of environment said the province under Premier McGuinty has made the environment’s protection a priority. “That’s a wonderful legacy to leave our children, which the Hudak PCs voted against.’’ said the statement.
The political manoeuvring continues, given the looming elections. Thus, making the environment a critical issue couldn’t have been more important at this moment. The moraine has been assaulted in the name of development with the building of more pipes, roads and utilities. The commercial fill coming from the GTA has made the area a dumping site which is near the vulnerable aquifer and the municipal and provincial governments have already started the blame game. Golf courses have suddenly sprung up in places where they can’t be placed because of the protections of the legislation and yet there they sit.
As you noted before, an election is coming to an election office near you! If you don’t fight for the issues you care about it’s time to throw the towel and resign to a life of not complaining.
But if you care about the health of your family, about the water you drink and the air you breathe. Or about the state of the provinces’ environmental health, then it’s time you start thinking about the elections and start voicing your ideas and grievances.
Make them loud and clear and perhaps they’ll carry through to fruition.