Update: I have now received over 200 emails asking me to reject this bill. Please check out this legal analysis from the Canadian Environmental Law Association
I have the 35 page document on my desk. In my inbox there are over 100 emails from concerned people asking me to protest this legislation and carry their voices to the provincial government.
This bill impacts 17 Acts. Some of the changes seem reasonable to me. In this digital age for example, allowing a driver to present their permits as a digital copy on their phone instead of rummaging through the glove box for a little piece of paper seems like a logical evolution. I will leave the verdict on that to law enforcement however, as I may not be thinking of all the ways it could lead to problems.
Of particular concern for all of you who have written to me and other members of council, is Schedule 10 which adds section 34.1 to the Planning Act.
…which allows local municipalities to pass open-for-business planning by-laws. These by-laws involve the exercise of a municipality’s powers under section 34 of the Act and allow municipalities to impose one or more specified conditions. A municipality may pass an open-for-business planning by-law only if it has received approval to do so in writing by the Minister and if criteria as may be prescribed are satisfied. Certain provisions of the Act and other Acts that would ordinarily apply to a by-law passed under section 34 do not apply to an open-for-business planning by-law.
If approved, this would allow particular types of development to be unilaterally approved by a municipality without regard for environmental impacts or impacts to a neighbouring municipality.
This is a tool that creates division and reduces transparency of governance.
While passing of this legislation does not automatically mean development will start springing up in sensitive wetlands and threatened species habitat tomorrow, it represents an erosion of protections. It removes a set of tools we have to ensure that we leave keep the long term health of our environment ahead of corporate interest.
As an example of worst case scenario: this legislation could create a situation where a project such as the Mega Quarry that was proposed in Melancthon Township would be able to be approved with no opportunity for appeal and without any public or resident input. The project could be approved and finalised before anyone knew it was even proposed.
I strongly urge the Ontario Government to reconsider.
This has been a wonderfully enriching experience. From the very beginning, the campaign was full of great conversations about our community and how to make it even better!
We are lucky to have had so many qualified, caring and engaged people who were willing to put forward their names to serve. Those who will not be serving on council, served the community just by running. Having a choice provides the opportunity for dialogue in a way that is difficult to create otherwise.
Wilmot Township has inspired all of us to offer our service. We and all residents can be proud of being part of a community that inspires so much passion and dedication. To those who put themselves forward and were not elected, thank you. You gave of yourself to our community in this race and our dialogue was strengthened by it. Thank you to all the candidates and to this amazing community. Thank you to Marie for giving me that final push to run! I owe a huge thank you for support; to the people who signed my nomination papers, the people who made financial contributions and gave me moral support. Thank you to Megan, Dave, Stacey, Markus, Catherine, Diljot and Sandy for all your time door knocking. Meredith, you are the best! Thank you for volunteering (not waiting to be asked) to be my campaign manager! And the biggest thank you to my husband, Ekk, who has supported me and believed in me always. I am truly blessed.
I am humbled by all the support I have received and take this election as a trust that I will spend my next four years working to honour and fulfill. I’m thrilled to be one of three women joining Wilmot Council this year. Being a woman isn’t what will make me a good councillor, but neither does it hurt. As we move forward with the new Council, I am excited to begin working on the many projects and ideas that this community is asking for. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve.
As I sit on the train and watch the fall colours roll by outside the window, I think about tomorrow. October 18th is Persons Day in Canada. It’s not a national holiday and I didn’t really become aware of it till recently.
Yesterday I was privileged to be part of a group of business people, academics and advocates meeting with MPs and Senators on Parliament Hill to bring our concerns and ideas to the table. Between meetings I slipped over to visit the Famous Five whose footsteps on those very same stones and halls and down the road at the Supreme Court are the reason I am legally called a person in Canada. There was a tourist with her young daughter visiting the ladies too. I was reminded of the New Hamburg woman whose words of encouragement on my campaign were offered with a thanks to me for showing her daughters that women can be leaders in our community. She said, “If we don’t show them, how will they believe they can do it?” I sat a moment and offered my thanks to Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards for their tenacity, strength and passion.
As I prepare for the final few days of campaigning in this election, their example stands as an inspiration for working to make a difference in the world around us.
My vision for the future of Wilmot is a township that has the most efficient energy use, environmentally sustainable growth plan, and positive environment for adoption of green technologies in our homes and businesses.
If elected I will work to connect township policies and strategic incentives for efficiency and green technology with provincial and federal incentive programs to increase the impact for our community. One example would be matching or complimentary rebates.
I will advocate for growth planning that ensures healthy communities where families and individuals can live affordably in an environmentally sustainable way. Where the best choice for the environment is also the convenient and economical choice.
This means working to improve adoption of efficient technology in our facilities. As systems require upkeep and replacement, installing ones that capture lost heat and incorporate solar, wind or other environmentally sound energy strategies needs to be considered.
It means increasing the availability and accessibility of community spaces such as trails, outdoor and indoor gathering spaces and natural areas that encourage healthy lifestyles.
It also means reviewing our programs and infrastructure to ensure that residents have easy and affordable access to sports and recreation programs and efficient public transit.
Meaningful employment opportunities within the community are also important for environmental sustainability. Being able to work close to home reduces carbon footprints and improves our ability to engage in balancing activities such as bike riding and walking. As a township we can encourage this through active engagement in soliciting and encouraging the kinds of development that will bring employment opportunities to our community.
Electing me to Wilmot Council will give you representation that considers all the various factors important to building healthy, sustainable communities.
As I have been talking to people about this election, the most important thing I want to share is my view of leadership. You need to know what kind of leader I would be if you vote for me.
If I am elected as Councillor, I will be the voice for the community. That means stepping outside of my own perspective and taking on the many voices of the whole community. It means hearing everyone’s concerns and weighing all the options for addressing them. It means explaining myself when someone questions why I took a particular position. You have a right to ask me to explain why. If I make a mistake, it means taking responsibility for it and making it right.
We should all engage with our local representatives at every level of government and talk to them. Not just at election time either.
Voting for me means voting for someone who will listen, consider and act. If I can’t fix the problem presented, I’ll take it to someone who can. I will advocate for you.
With the deadline for registering as a candidate behind us; the race is on. You, the voter, have a choice in Ward 4. I think that is a wonderful thing! When a community is vibrant and active and its members are engaged, naturally, there are people who want to serve that community as Councillors.
Over the coming 79 days, I will be coming to your doors to talk about what you think is important for our community and sharing my vision of how we can build on the things that make this community a fantastic place to live.
We know that the biggest single determinant for health, happiness and long life is a feeling of community and connected-ness. Even though this community has that in spades, there are people in our community who may not yet be connected. I want to work to engage people who haven’t found their community niche. I want to work to ensure that we maintain and build on the strengths of our town as we grow by making more community spaces that bring people together, encouraging more public engagement in the township business, and protecting the farmland that feeds us.
On October 22nd, I hope you will vote for me so I can be your voice and serve the community I love.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a nurse and marry a farmer. Politics never entered my mind except when it came to voting. I have never missed a vote since I reached the age of majority in this wonderful country of ours.
Today, I am putting myself forward for your consideration as a Councillor in Ward 4 of Wilmot Township.
Why? Because this town has given me and my family so much love and support that I want to offer to serve as your voice on the Council. It’s the best idea I could come up with to let all of you know what a great place I think this is, and how grateful I am for the privilege of living here with all of you.
My day job is running Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables Inc. with my husband and brother and sister-in-law. It is a job I love. In the past, I have also served on volunteer boards: seven years at Foodshare in Toronto, several years on the Organic Council of Ontario board, as well as the National Farmers Union Local and the Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable.
If you choose to elect me as councilor, I will work hard to consider everyone’s voice, to listen, and to act in the best interest of the whole community.
In the coming weeks, I will be making myself available to hear what’s on your mind by knocking on your doors and of course, attending many of the wonderful events we have.