2023, Year in Review

BEA Youth Council

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.

Continue reading “2023, Year in Review”

Municipal Election

The people have spoken and we have a new municipal council, a new regional council and a new set of school board trustees.

Thanks to all the candidates who put their names on ballots and who had the courage to stand up for what they believe in. Congratulations to the winners who now have challenge and responsibility of following through on their campaign promises.

And thanks to those who took the time to research their candidate positions and then to vote for the candidate of their choice.

Continue reading “Municipal Election”

On Being a BEA Student Intern

Students Rajbalinder Ghatoura and Gavin Lin reflect on their time supporting the Brampton Environmental Alliance as student interns.

Rajbalinder Ghatoura is a fourth year student in Environmental Studies at York University. He is also a Brampton resident who has been involved in several environmental initiatives starting when he was in Grade 7! As a secondary school student, Rajbalinder was one of the founding members of Human Impact Environment, a youth focused environmental not-for-profit organization.

Here is a video that Rajbalinder produced summarizing his time working with the BEA as the Director of Memberships.

Gavin Lin is also a fourth year student at York University in Environmental Studies. Gavin’s focus is urban planning and incorporating sustainable practices as part of city building. Although he is a resident of Mississauga, Gavin chose to join the BEA as a student intern last fall. He continues to support the BEA as a Board member at large. Here is Gavin’s description of his time at the BEA.

My experience working with the Brampton Environmental Alliance (BEA) as a student placement has been very pleasant. The BEA is a professional organization with an active board of members who are each very passionate about their role while creating positive change in the city of Brampton through different environmentally focused initiatives. I was able to attend their regular meetings and take part in different aspects of the organization such as marketing, website development, and research.

Outside of board meetings I had weekly meetings with my supervisors Stacey and Rajbalinder, they were extremely friendly and were able to help me stay organized during my placement. They also continuously encouraged me to build and improve on my skills throughout the term. The entire placement was a very good opportunity for me and I appreciated the level of professionalism and communication I experienced. 

In my experience with the Brampton Environmental Alliance, I have been able to be a part of a growing community of passionate individuals looking to create a positive change for Brampton and I would encourage any environmentally driven students and individuals to apply and be a part of this initiative.

The BEA currently has opportunities for student interns to fill roles for the spring, summer, and fall of 2022. Anyone interested is welcome to apply by forwarding their resume and cover letter to, info@bramptonea.org.

February is Winter Walk to School Month

Courtesy Ontario Active School Travel

Whether we were born in Canada or came here later in life, it seems many of us don’t like Canadian winters. Did you know there is a scientific reason why winters make us feel so lethargic and unhappy?

It turns out the lack of light affects our brain’s ability to generate serotonin and melatonin, two chemicals that help regulate our sleep cycles, energy, and mood. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Lack of exposure to full-spectrum natural light also reduces the body’s production of vitamin D, a chemical necessary for calcium absorption. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to many diseases including, breast, colon, and prostate cancers, heart disease, depression and weight gain.

Low levels of vitamin D in children are related to rickets which causes soft, poorly formed bones. Children can also experience SAD and the affects can be similar to clinical depression. This includes negative thinking, changes in sleeping or eating, and lower overall energy. Loss of concentration is another symptom, which may affect the child’s school results.

For many children and teenagers, an effective antidote to SAD and low vitamin D levels is to get outside and absorb the natural light. Even 30 minutes of winter light exposure per day on the face can generate sufficient levels of vitamin D, serotonin, and melatonin.

The World Health Organization recommends children and adolescents aged 6 through 17 get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily to maintain healthy bones and muscles. But, according to the Region of Peel, fewer than half of Peel’s kids are getting the minimum amount of daily activity. And 27% are overweight or obese.

Walking or riding to school and back, at least some of the days of the week, may be the simplest and easiest solution to these related problems. It builds physical activity into the child’s daily routine which supports better mental health outcomes, higher concentration abilities and better academic performance.

February is Winter Walk Month and there is no time like the present to put your child on the “Road to Health”! Encourage them to walk or ride. Walk with them if you have the time or join with a group of parents to form a walking school bus or bike train. Who knows, you may find that winters become enjoyable for both you and your family!

Visit Ontario Active School Travel, or Walk + Roll Peel for more information about walking and riding programs in Peel.

What’s walking and riding to school have to do with the environment? Well, 20-25% of Peel’s morning and afternoon vehicle traffic is from children being driven to school. Increasing the amount of walking or riding will decrease vehicular traffic which is the single biggest producer of carbon emissions in Brampton.

City Accepting Grow Green Awards Nominations

The City of Brampton has created a new award program to recognize individuals, businesses, organizations and institutions in the city that have demonstrated environmental leadership and have significantly contributed to the “Grow Green” vision of conserving, enhancing, and balancing our natural and built environments to create a healthy, sustainable, and resilient Brampton. Nominations will be accepted until February 28th, 2022 and the awards will be handed out during an Earth Day Environmental Festival to be held at Norton Place Park on Saturday April 23rd.

The Climate Change Award will be given to an individual and a business/organization that has significantly contributed to advancing climate change mitigation, adaptation, awareness/knowledge, and or actions.

The Stewardship Award will be given to an individual and a business/organization that has significantly contributed to the advancement of environmental sustainability iniitiatives related to the conservation and/or stewardship of trees, natural heritage systems, water, and/or the reduction of waste.

The Environmental Youth Award will be given to an individual or youth group that has demonstrated exceptional achievement in the advancement of environmental protection, climate change actions, and/or sustainability.

The Environmental Legacy Award will be given to an individual who has provided outstanding personal service and ongoing contributions to advance the “Grow Green” vision of conserving, enhancing, and balancing our natural and built environments to crate a healthy, resilient and sustainable city.

Centre for Community Energy Transformation Board Member Application Deadline February 25th.

CCET logo

The City’s new Centre for Energy Transformation CCET is looking for members of the public to apply for volunteer transitional board positions.

The primary purpose of the transitional board will be to set up the CCET as a not-for-profit organization, hire an Executive Director and set the operational priorities for the first year.

Nine Board positions will be selected to work with five members of City staff to set up the CCET organization. The CCET will then act as a catalyst to help residents and businesses reduce energy consumption and move to lower carbon energy sources.

If you have experience in finance, governance or setting up a new organization, consider applying. The deadline to apply is February 25, 2022. Find full details and submit a board member application at www.brampton.ca/CCET.

Brampton Council Approves Centre for Community Energy Transformation

CCET logo courtesy City of Brampton

This past Wednesday Brampton Council unanimously approved seed funding for the Centre for Community Energy Transformation, or CCET. This is a very important milestone on the city’s path to a low-carbon future.

The concept for the CCET started in 2018 as part of the Brampton 2040 Vision exercise, one of the most comprehensive public engagement process the City has ever undertaken. The Vision maps how the City will grow over the next 18 years, living the cultural mosaic of our diverse population.

The importance of Brampton as a green, environmentally sustainable city, featured prominently in the public feedback sessions. In response, the vision document called for the creation of an independent organization that would help steward Brampton’s green journey. The CCET is now that organization.

Using 2016 as the baseline year, the City set targets to cut carbon emissions by 30% by 2030, 50% by 2040 and 80% by 2050. Improving building energy efficiency is an important part of achieving Brampton’s Energy and Emissions Reduction Plan.

Courtesy City of Brampton

Residences are the second largest source of climate changing emissions. The average Brampton home consumes more than twice as much energy compared to an A-rated home in Germany. Brampton has a large number of older homes that are less efficient. And most homes burn natural gas for heat and hot water.

A major purpose of the CCET, therefore, will be to help residents reduce energy consumption and convert to lower carbon energy sources. The CCET will work with banks, municipalities and other governments to make it easy for homeowners to finance building retrofits. It will also work with industry and post secondary institutions to recruit and train the auditors, technicians, contractors and installers necessary to create low-risk retrofit solutions at scale that will pay for themselves over time through reduced heating and air conditioning costs.

Depending on the age of the house, retrofits could be as simple as sealing doors and windows or adding insulation to attics, walls, and basements. Or, it could involve replacing natural gas furnaces with high efficiency electric heat pumps, installing solar hot water systems or tapping into a “district energy node”. Regardless, the changes promise exciting times for both residents and business as the Centre for Community Energy Transformation develops over the coming year.

Rogers Communications Inc. requests City Council support two Ministerial Zoning Orders

Less than a week after Committee of Council voted to refer the City’s use of Ministerial Zoning Orders to staff, Council is being asked to support two more MZOs.

The latest request is from Rogers Communications Inc. which is looking to build a new 200,000 square foot office/retail complex in Brampton’s downtown in the block south of Railroad St., east of Elizabeth St. N. and west of George St. N. The land in question is currently mostly open field and a disused surface parking lot.

8200 Dixie Rd. (Photo Google Maps)

Rogers is also seeking an MZO that would permit the conversion of existing space held at 8200 Dixie Rd. into 1.2M square feet for industrial logistics uses plus up to 25 acres for residential development along Dixie Rd with a range of housing types being proposed.

The Rogers proposal involves much needed investment in both housing and jobs in the downtown core. The Rogers downtown site would support approximately 3,000 employees relocated from the Dixie Rd. location and establish the downtown as a “transit-oriented” complete community. This would likely act as a catalyst for further downtown investments and strengthen support for extending the HuLRT up Main St. to the Brampton GO station.

What isn’t clear is why the need for an MZO that would effectively cut the public out of the planning process and limit the time available for staff to analyze the impact of these major developments on the City’s land use plans, sustainable development goals and environmental protections.

The development proposals may be just the right thing for Brampton at this time. But why the rush? How will the opportunity be affected by taking the necessary time to step through the City’s planning process? On the other hand, what’s the risk to the City of not taking the time to analyze the proposals impact? If these MZO are approved by Council, we may not know, until it is too late. It will be interesting to see if Council votes to support the MZO requests or if it will give staff the time to analyze and develop a process for MZO approvals. More information on the City’s use of MZOs can be found here.