2023, Year in Review

Twelve months ago we optimistically embraced 2023 as the post COVID year, the end of mask mandates and the beginning for economic recovery and environmental optimism. In many respects 2023 did not live up to expectations. Although the markets rebounded of late, inflation and housing affordability remain top issues for many Canadians.

Environmentally we degraded into scandal surrounding the Greenbelt, and carbon pricing carve-outs, while the Supreme Court ruled against the Federal Impact Assessment Act and emboldened Provinces to become even more aggressive in their challenge against Canada’s plans for clean fuel standards and an emissions cap on the oil and gas industry. All of this in a year of unprecedented environmental disasters including floods on both coasts and raging forest fires from New Brunswick to B.C. Continuing conflicts in many parts of the world including Ukraine and, most recently, the middle east, have added significantly to our sense of angst.

In that context, your Brampton Environmental Alliance team worked to maintain positive focus on local environmental issues that matter to Brampton residents and to take actions to move Brampton closer to being a sustainable community. The actions of the BEA fall into four categories, Advocacy, Events, Education/Resources and Collaboration/Networking. Looking back on 2023, the BEA has had a successful year in each of these categories. Let’s review a few of the highlights.

Advocacy

The BEA was involved in many advocacy initiatives during the year. In January BEA members made a submission to the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) on improving the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights. We continue to follow up with the LCO to ensure our voices are being heard.

We met with Brampton North MPP Graham McGregor several times during the year on different topics ranging from the implementation of Green Building Standards as part of the Conservative Government’s target of building 1.5M homes, to suggestions for improving the wildlife corridor along Brampton’s Heart Lake Road. We also supported MPP McGregor’s initiative for the Ontario Government to partially fund a City and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority Shoreline Restoration Project at Loafer’s Lake.

BEA members participated in the Walk for Soil to raise awareness about regenerative farming and the importance of healthy soil and to encourage government to enact policies for the protection of soil health.

Members of the BEA supported a Lead Now initiative to encourage the Federal government to implement carbon emissions cap on the oil and gas industry. We gathered hundreds of signatures and presented a petition to Brampton North MP Ruby Sahota that she subsequently raised in the House of Commons.

The BEA also participated in many environmental committees including Peel Enviro-Hub hosted by Environmental Defence, Sierra Club Peel Chapter meetings, Caledon Climate Collaborative organized by the Town of Caledon, Best Practice webinar on Farmland and Natural Heritage Protection organized by Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, Credit Valley Trail Symposium organized by Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVC), Brampton Climate Change Adaptation Plan and Litter Reduction Forum organized by the City of Brampton, Watershed Alliance organized by TRCA, Future Ground Network Building Power symposium organized by the David Suzuki Foundation, and the Ontario Climate Emergency Network.

Finally, the BEA delegated to both Regional and Brampton City Councils on environmental matters related to development projects and active transportation.

Events

Working with our members and partners, the BEA was involved in planning and organizing 35 environmental events in the past year. 30 of these events were delivered as part of two projects where the BEA received grant funding.

In the spring, the BEA was awarded a New Horizons for Seniors grant from the Federal Government to deliver the Graceful Aging Through Connecting with Nature, GATCWN, project. It was designed to encourage seniors to participate in outdoor physical activities with objectives to improve physical and mental health and to increase awareness of the benefits of and the threats to local natural elements including woodlots and wetlands.

BEA partnered with four of its member organizations to deliver workshops and events throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2023 in various locations throughout the City. It also partnered with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), to deliver a workshop and an event specifically tailored to seniors living in the Bramalea SNAP area near Bramalea City Centre . This was part of the TRCA’s “Building a Healthy, Connected Bramalea Program”. You can read posts about the GATCWN events and see the GATCWN final report here.

In the summer, the BEA was awarded an Ontario Seniors Community grant by the Ontario Government. This project, Rooted in Hope (RIH), was designed to connect seniors’ groups with secondary school students to plant trees and then learn how to monitor their health and growth over the coming years. Sixteen youth from three high-schools, joined 12 seniors who, along with other community volunteers, planted 300 trees in Gore Meadows Park. The youth and seniors also participated in two tree monitoring training sessions with another session planned for this spring. See Rooted in Hope posts here.

Education

The BEA created its first-ever Youth Council to provide opportunities for environmental youth engagement and mentorship. A York University student intern helped organize YC events and activities.

Educational newsletter posts touched on many topics including, why Greenbelt lands need continued protection, how to navigate the grant process for home energy retrofits, and debunking myths about coyotes in an urban environment.

Guest speaker, Sarah Syed spoke eloquently at the BEA annual general meeting this past January on the importance for communities to take action on climate change. Sarah, an 18 year old environmental activist from Toronto, is the founder of You are the Change. She has won 2 regional science fair gold medals for her research into bioplastics made from food waste and is a Canadian Top 25 under 25 award winner.

In the fall, the BEA was invited to provide a guest panelist at the International Film Festival South Asia’s. It’s Interactions, Take Action! segment aims to leverage the power of cinema to spark discussions around issues of environment and climate change, and ignite positive change within our communities.

Collaboration and Networking

The BEA provided plenty of opportunity for collaboration this past year. Member organizations and community partners worked together to deliver the GATCWN and RIH projects as noted above.

Many thanks to individual and organizational members from, Friends and Stewards of Dorchester Park, People Against Littering, Heart Lake Turtle Troopers, Sierra Peel and BikeBrampton for their dedication and support of these projects. Thanks also to Association of Canadian Educational Resources (ACER), CVC, TRCA, Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS) and Brampton City staff from Parks and Environmental Planning for their services that contributed to the success of these projects.

Finally, thanks to all of you for being interested in local environmental issues and for making whatever contributions you can to make a difference. It’s yet another proof point of the power of alliances within communities to address issues of a global nature. Wishing you all the best for 2024. Happy New Year!

David Laing at IFFSA
David Laing with panelists and moderators at IFFSA
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