Season’s Greetings from the Brampton Environmental Alliance

Backyard deer

The members of the BEA Board want to take this opportunity to wish you, your family and loved ones, all the very best this holiday season. We look forward with optimism and excitement to 2023 despite the economic, social, and environmental challenges we face.

This year the BEA advocated at all government levels for legislation and actions to bring harmony and balance to social, environmental and economic issues. We partnered with conservation authorities and other agencies to sponsor events that highlight environmental problems and bring specific actions to our neighbourhoods. And we’ve supported our members in their work, restoring and protecting habitat, cleaning our neighbourhoods, planting trees and riding bicycles.

This coming year we will maintain our prime objective to have Brampton grow as a sustainable community. We will stay focused and strive for the future. We look forward to working with you as we continue building momentum for a caring and balanced Brampton community that is healthy and resilient, economically, environmentally and socially. Think of the planet as you complete your seasonal shopping.

Merry Christmas!!

Brampton asking for resident input to improve neighbourhoods

Loafers Lake Cherry Blossoms

Brampton city staff, from the Community Safety and Well-being Office, are looking for your input on the Nurturing Neighbourhood Program. Now in its 4th year, Nurturing Neighbourhoods is designed to give residents an opportunity to have conversations with staff and members of Council to share their experience on a range of topics that will help create vibrant and inclusive neighbourhoods where everyone feels safe and connected.

Since the program started, staff and Council have visited with residents from 15 neighbourhoods across all 10 city wards. Now they are looking for feedback that will help set their plans and priorities for 2023 and beyond. They want to understand what you like and don’t like about the neighbourhood where you live. They want to know how safe you feel, what your concerns are and how the city could do better.

Members of the Brampton Environmental Alliance are invited to participate in an on-line survey.

Brampton Environmental Alliance joins protests over the Province’s Bill 23 New Homes Build Faster Act

Saturday morning dawned cold, wet, and blustery. By noon, the rain had stopped and about 50 people braved the low temperatures and wind chill to protest the Ontario government’s intent to remove land from the Greenbelt and to implement the New Homes Built Faster Act 2022, a bill that would further erode protections for environmentally sensitive areas in the province.

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You’re the Solution to Less Pollution

August 27th BBQ and Paint by Numbers Event

A great way to revive community spirit! On August 27th, Brampton Environmental Alliance (BEA) set up a ‘Paint by Numbers’ station for the community of Knightsbridge to paint anti-litter art on waste bins.

Saptha (left) and Sima Naseem (right) are ready to facilitate the ‘Paint by Numbers’ activity at BEA’s station

The BEA event was part of a ‘Back 2 School BBQ’ event organised by Families of Virtue in support of the community. There was plenty of food and vendor displays along with games and activities for children and families. It was lively and fun!

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Managing without Growth

A MODEL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY AND ECONOMIC STABILITY

Managing Without Growth – Second Edition

The relationship between the natural world and the “progress of humanity” has been complicated and contentious ever since man invented tools and fire. The human brain and psyche have allowed us to out compete most other living organisms. We have developed a model that measures progress based almost exclusively on economic growth.

For centuries our ingenuity and the application of technology have allowed human populations to continue growing at increasing levels of prosperity, consuming resources and producing waste while skirting the limits of a finite world.

How long can we continue dancing on the edge of the cliff and not fall into the abyss? We now affect, what some would argue, is an outsized portion of the world’s resources compared to our population. Example, our species is throwing so much carbon into the atmosphere that it is affecting the climate, threatening our very existence as well as the natural world around us.

Is there a better way? Is there a different model based on something other than Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that would allow us to live in relative comfort while maintaining a sustainable relationship with the world that surrounds us and nurtures us? Smart people like Peter Victor think so.

Peter Victor is a Professor Emeritus in Environmental Studies at York University. His book, Managing Without Growth – Slower by Design Not Disaster, challenges the priority that rich countries continue to give to economic growth as an over-arching objective of economic policy. The challenge is based on: a critical analysis of the literature on environmental and resource limits to growth, the disconnect between higher income and happiness, and on the failure of economic growth to meet societal objectives of full employment, elimination of poverty and environmental protection.

Peter’s book uses a rigorous approach to provide insight at the frontier of ecological economics using both systems modelling and a more conventional macro-economic analysis. I encourage you to read the book but here is my précis.
Summarized elements of Peter Victor’s economic model:

  1. The Economy is a system which converts inputs (energy, material, land) into valued goods and services which contribute to individual well-being. Along the way, wastes are also produced as by-product. As the economy grows it consumes more inputs, generates more goods and services and creates more waste. The Economy is an open-ended system meaning that, theoretically, it could grow forever. It is responsible for neither creating the inputs nor for assimilating the wastes. For these things the Economy relies on the Environment. But the Environment is a closed system meaning that there is a finite limit on the amount of inputs it can supply and the amount of waste it can assimilate. As the Economy grows beyond the bio-physical limits to support it, economic output goes into precipitous decline.
  2. Initially individual well-being improves as the economy grows. But, as economic growth continues the relationship between economic growth and improvement in well-being becomes less and less direct. What that means for most “western” economies is that economic growth is no longer contributing positively towards individual happiness.
  3. In a traditional economy, economic throughput is essentially controlled by market prices. The economy assumes that all of the inputs are owned by somebody. If someone wishes to produce a good or service that requires an input (raw materials, labour etc.), a price for that input will be established with its owner. The scarcer the input, the higher the price. The higher the price, the more effort will be expended to create cheaper alternatives or discover ways to reduce consumption by making more efficient use of the input.
  4. Many aspects of the environment are used by everyone but owned by no one. Lack of ownership means no custodianship and scarcity in this context is not defined nor effectively measured. Market forces, therefore, are not good at setting prices for environmental qualities. Examples would be the atmospheric quality degradation as a result of the production of greenhouse gases or the bio-diversity reduction as a result of habitat destruction. There is not an entity that owns the atmosphere or that has custodianship of bio-diversity. Until recently, this didn’t matter so much as the natural cycles were able to accommodate and adjust to the environmental pressures caused by economic growth. Now the scale of the economy is so large that the natural cycles are being overloaded and have begun breaking down. A partial answer to this dilemma is to reduce the global rate of economic growth to near zero.
  5. In Canada, a no-growth economy would still strive for the following:
    a. Full employment (defined at 4% unemployment or less)
    b. Poverty elimination (based on Statistics Canada Low Income Cut-Off model)
    c. 2% inflation or less managed by the Bank of Canada
    d. Environmental sustainability as measured by decreased GHG emissions that would sustain a 1.5°C increase or less to the global climate
    e. Declining debt to GDP ratio
  1. The government policy elements that would move us in the direction of this low or no growth economic model would be:
    a. Balancing immigration levels, life expectancy and birth rate to achieve a stable (not growing) population base
    b. Management of the environment according to the three “Daly” principles, i.e. :
    i. The rate of consumption of renewable resources should not exceed their rate of regeneration,
    ii. The rate of depletion of non-renewable resources should not exceed the rate at which renewable alternatives are created,
    iii. The rate of waste emissions should not exceed the eco-system’s ability of to absorb it (For example, this implies setting a price on carbon emissions, either tax or cap and trade)
    c. Setting out a measures to combat social exclusion and poverty including:
    i. Macro-stabilization and framework measures, (e.g. framework legislation establishing rights and freedoms)
    ii. Protective measures aimed at maintaining a safety net, (e.g. targeted wealth transfers such as social assistance and social housing)
    iii. Measures to promote work incentives and support labour market entry and participation, (e.g. literacy, language and skills training)
    iv. Measures aimed at creating/expanding/maintaining economic opportunity, (e.g. job creation and support for self-employment)
    v. Measures to promote community based economies and neighbourhood quality, (e.g. community, social and economic development, local support for culture, sports and recreation)
    vi. Reformation of public programs for greater accessibility, (e.g. health, education and financial services access)
    vii. Measures promoting the quality of life, well-being and personal development, (e.g. investments in health programs and support for issues such as teen pregnancy, mental health, substance abuse)
    viii. Measures aimed at enhancing community receptivity, (e.g. anti-discrimination measures)
    d. Setting our measures to encourage work-week reduction to reduce individual “over-employment” (i.e. those working more than 50 hours/wk) and provide better work/life balance as well as creating more employment opportunity)
    e. Focus investment, productivity gains and technology development patterns in ways that support and reflect the changing direction in how people lead their lives: more leisure and recreation, more time with family, friends and community, more public goods, fewer private, status goods.
    f. Tax corporations based in part on the capital that they employ because it favours investment in people over produced assets
    g. Impose a structured capital gains tax that favours investment in beneficial, less damaging technologies
    h. Impose tax structures that favours maintenance and repair of, rather than replacement of, existing capital stock
    i. Implement limits on economic throughput that would translate productivity gains into increased leisure to reduce the rate of unemployment or to reductions in environmental burden through environmental training, awareness and changes to process
    j. Implement technology assessment programs that would review proposed implementation of new technologies to evaluate both their beneficial and deleterious effect in terms of achieving the goals that people really value
    k. When evaluating the benefits of international trade agreements, consider their environmental impact both in the source country and in the transport of raw materials and finished and semi-finished goods around the world. Aim for net zero balance of trade on a global basis.
    l. Impose policies to curtail the culture of consumption as a way to increase status at the expense of others. Instead, consumption should be focused on purchasing goods or services that are truly useful and on increasing individual well-being.
  2. Caveats:
    a. Don’t expect very many of these policy initiatives to come from governments as they are now structured. As Peter Victor says, “they must be wanted and demanded by the public because they see a better future for themselves, their children and the children of others, if we turn away from the pursuit of unconstrained economic growth.” (hence the Fridays for Future movement)
    b. It is highly unlikely that a single country could move towards a no-growth economy on its own. It must be a global initiative, one which initially tolerates growth for the less developed countries at the expense of growth for the currently, “richer” nations
    c. While small community based initiatives will help initiate and support the groundswell, ultimately the change must migrate to the mainstream. Again to quote Peter Victor, “A ground swell of support for voluntary simplicity and for more locally based economies and communities, or something similar, might be just what is needed to lead the transformation that logic, data and compassion say is required, but it will not be sufficient. Unless governments introduce appropriate policies for managing without growth based on widespread support but obliging all of us to change our ways, the contributions of those willing to lead the way will prove insufficient.”

Peter Victor’s book was written in 2009 with an updated edition released in 2019. It’s concepts are even more relevant today than when the book was first released and the reasons for change ever more compelling.

The COVID – 19 pandemic has taught us global economic transformation is possible if the consequences of not taking action are seen as too dire. The catastrophes associated with climate change mount up by the day with untold human suffering and economic damages into the trillions of dollars. What will be the tipping point when collectively we say, “enough is enough. We need to try something different.”

Your the Solution to Less Pollution!

Paint by numbers poster

Join us on Saturday August 27th for a free, fun, social, event to promote waste clean up and reduction. It’s all part of the Families of Virtue “Back 2 School BBQ”! We will be painting City of Brampton garbage cans by the numbers using designs provided by local artists. Our friends from Sierra Club Peel will also be demonstrating what gets recycled and what gets tossed through their waste sorting game.

Where: In the greenspace behind 4 & 10 Knightsbridge Road
When: 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Feeling helpless about environmental issues such as, noxious weeds, pollution, flooding and climate change? Consider joining the Brampton Environmental Alliance. We welcome both individuals and organizations. Come to our BEA members meeting at the BBQ on the 27th. It will run from 1:00 – 2:00pm. Learn who the BEA is and what we do. Learn about One-Planet Living. Meet our member organizations. Learn what you can do to advocate for the environment in your community. All are welcome. See you there!

YOU’RE THE SOLUTION TO LESS POLLUTION

ANTI-LITTERING WASTE EDUCATION CAMPAIGN organized by the Brampton Environmental Alliance and supported the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

Excerpt from a paper written by the BEA’s York University Student Intern, Sapthasvanaa Killewalavan, (Saptha).

Through the 2040 Vision process and other outreach activities, Brampton residents indicated they want the city to be a leader in environmental innovation. They want our civic leaders to build a healthy, safe, and sustainable city.

Community resilience is fostered by helping connect people with nearby nature. We
want people to value nature. Humans depend on forests and rivers for their well-being. We
wish to help people understand human impacts on the built environment.

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Heart Lake Turtle Troopers receives generous merchandise donation from Home Depot

By: Leah Nacua, Heart Lake Turtle Troopers

Three members of Heart Lake Turtle Troopers (one of whom is a Home Depot associate), pose with two other Home Depot associates along with donated merchandise

With support from the BEA, Heart Lake Turtle Troopers was honoured and grateful to receive a generous donation of merchandise from The Home Depot (Brampton #7006, located at Steeles & Hwy 410)! 

We received an assortment of tools and materials that will be used for building and installation of nest-protection boxes, as well as totes that will be used for transporting injured turtles to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre in Peterborough. 

Heart Lake Turtle Troopers will be engaging with ~20 volunteers from the Home Depot team later in May, when we show them the nest-protection work we are doing at Loafers Lake Park.  They will also help us do a park clean up at Loafers Lake.  

Heart Lake Turtle Troopers is a Brampton-based volunteer group. Our mission is to support the protection and monitoring of the local turtle population through a citizen science volunteer program, by working in partnership with community stakeholders to raise community awareness, recruit and engage citizen volunteers and organize and deliver public engagement activities. Visit our Facebook page to learn more about our activities or join our group.

Brampton’s Earth Day Celebration – A Warm Reception on a Cold Day

By: Rosemary Keenan, Sierra Club Peel Chapter Chair and David Laing, President, Brampton Environmental Alliance
Earth Day Activities

It was a brisk, enjoyable and energizing day at the first ever Grown Green Awards Celebration held at Norton Place Park this past Saturday April 23rd. Norton Place Park is a hidden gem in the heart of the City with a small lake beautifully surrounded by trees and trails. The Earth Day event was about celebrating the Brampton City’s and its residents contributions to a more environmentally friendly world.

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