If you are interested in showing your displeasure about the Ontario PC government’s plan to ram a provincial limited access highway through the heart of the greenbelt all but destroying Brampton’s planned Heritage Heights community, here is your chance.
Several grassroots organizations have banded together to raise awareness about the proposed 413 highway and the 2,000 acres of irreplaceable farmland that will be destroyed and that will set the stage for car dependent development for the next 30 years!
You can join walkers starting from the Heart Lake Garden Centre on Heart Lake Rd. at 10:00am. You can join cyclists starting near Kleinburg or from Mississauga at the Lisgar GO station. Both rides start at 9:45am. Walks and rides end at the Brampton Fairgrounds in Caledon.
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.
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!
The BEA also held its in-person public/member meeting as part of the day’s activities. Thanks to BEA members, P.A.L. (People Against Littering), Sierra Club, and Human Impact Environment whose volunteers helped out at the event!
The ‘Paint by Numbers’ activity is a component of the anti-litter waste education campaign “You’re the Solution to Less Pollution. (See blog post by David Laing on August 10th). Saptha, the BEA student intern and project coordinator, used this event to engage the community and communicate about litter and its effects on the environment.
A shout out to the staff of the City of Brampton’s Operation Centre. They supported us by providing a shelter space to use while completing the waste bins and transporting the bins to the sites.
Saptha created the initial designs of the anti-litter art for five waste bins. Sima Naseem, a local public artist, helped refine those concepts. Saptha and Sima collaborated to paint the anti-litter art and messages onto the waste bins.
On the event day, community members participated in painting 3 silhouette waste bins. The other two waste bins were ready to go on-site.
The next part of the project is to collect and analyze the data for the final report. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected using a combination of surveys and, social media feedback. Observations and data will be collected throughout September.
Saptha wants to understand the public perceptions of all five of the newly painted waste bins after they’ve been in their new locations for a while. She hopes to see positive changes around the areas with the painted cans. Her hypothesis is that, as community members engage with keeping parks clean, it will create a sense of stewardship for those parks meaning reduced litter and an increased level of caring for the environment.
Positive data may inform whether or not anti-litter public art on waste bins can become a future element in the structure of public spaces to help people engage with their community.
The Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) will include a survey as part of the Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Project (SNAP) newsletter to be distributed to the Bramalea community.The survey will capture peoples’ perceptions about disposing litter in these waste bins and its significance in saving the environment.
A sample question in the survey will ask if the amount of litter in the waste bin reflects the presence/absence of littering in the general area of the park. For instance, is there less litter in the area and more litter in the painted waste bins? Staff from the City of Brampton’s Operation Centre have also been asked to observe changes in littering behaviour when changing the waste bins’ garbage bags.
An Instagram poll has already been conducted from @bramptonea where folks voted for their favourite bin! If you notice these bins at the parks, take a snapshot, and tag us on Instagram! Let us know what you think.
Saptha wants to thank the BEA member volunteers as well as public artist Sima Naseem, the City of Brampton Operations Centre staff, and the TRCA SNAP project team for making this project possible!
Stay tuned for the project outcome blog post October 2022.
A MODEL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY AND ECONOMIC STABILITY
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:
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.
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.
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.
Many aspects of the environment are used by everyonebut 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.
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
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.
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.”
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!
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.
Brampton’s littering problem contributes to environmental impacts that interrupts economic growth and breaks down the quality of life. As the population grows amongst diverse communities, some people may have a limited understanding of proper waste disposal methods and their effect on the environment. Additionally, the economic sector of the city is vast, but it is not entirely responsible for environmental impacts such as air pollution and the possible loss of ecological habitats.
The BEA and its members including the TRCA, Sierra Club, Human Impact Environment and People Against Littering, have teamed to produce a waste education campaign to reduce waste, soil, and air pollution from littering.
A healthy, accessible, litter-free urban park encourages people to engage and connect with green spaces. This waste education campaign will inspire people to take action and contribute to healthier urban parks. As litter slowly disappears the risk of visiting parks in Brampton reduces. Reducing litter can ensure safe and welcoming urban parks.
A major part of the campaign involves engaging people to paint park waste collection barrels and create public art posters. Public art has the ability to shape urban behavior.
Creativity in waste education campaigns to engage the community along with consistent city enforcement, and provision of proper receptacles, all contribute to a positive paradigm shift to reduce littering behaviour. It is an interactive component in the public realm. Hence, anti-litter public art designs can help people behave and interact with the art.
The goal of this project therefore is to provide accessible information and education to people including those in vulnerable communities. Graphic and public art messages will be circulated in the neighborhood and on social media. This can grab the community’s attention. Using large fonts, slogans and bright images, on posters and public art will include important details about littering.
The program will culminate with an event on Saturday August 27th, 1:00-5:00pm in the Greenspace behind 4 Knightsbridge Road where the community can help paint City of Brampton waste cans based on an artist’s design. Keep that date open on your calendars and stay tuned for event details.
The pressing need of the climate emergency gives us a unique opportunity to rethink how we use land and how we move people and goods in the Greater Toronto Area. Building more super highways such as the proposed 413 and the Bradford Bypass represent status quo thinking that is bad not just for environmental reasons but also because of the cost and the negative social implications. Recent BEA blog posts outline these consequences so please check them out for more details.
We still have an opportunity to do this right but first we have to get our Provincial Government to rethink their position that supports building these highways. The first step is to encourage the Federal Government to complete a full impact assessment to take yet another detailed look at the impact of Highway 413. Add yours to the chorus of Ontario voices who are concerned the Provincial Government will be taking us in the wrong direction if this highway is built.
You may have voted Conservative in the last provincial election but recent surveys indicate you don’t support spending billions on highways that are of questionable value and certain to cause environmental damage. Please take action to make your position clear on this issue. Thank you!
Submitted by: Save Huttonville Forest member Ken MacDonald
A year ago, a Brampton resident stumbled upon a peculiar finding on City maps, while searching for future walking trail plans in his new Huttonville neighbourhood. Placing a digital image of subdivision proposals over Google Map images revealed that 37 houses were to placed directly over a thick forest overlooking the Credit River. The discovery led to conversations with long-time residents who had attended past City planning meetings and were equally baffled with the forest destruction. The concerned residents launched a “Save Huttonville Forest” campaign to investigate how 3 hectares of protected greenspace and locally-significant wetland on the river’s edge had been released into the hands of developer Great Gulf Homes.
The so-named Huttonville Forest sits at the rear of the village’s most historic 200-year farm on a high and picturesque tract of table land on the south side of the Credit River. Ironically, it is directly beside Heritage Road where the much-maligned Highway 413 would slice its way through this last major development frontier of Brampton, if the Progressive Conservative government has its way.
The “Save Huttonville Forest” team went to work, establishing a Facebook Group to document and share its findings with the community and environmental groups, like the Brampton Environmental Alliance, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defence and others who would care about this destruction.
Meetings were held with the City, the developer and twice with the Credit Valley Conservation Authority (CVC). Further freedom of information (FOI) documentation disclosed that this important greenspace was transferred by the City, to the developer, against the recommendations of the CVC. The only reference to the land transfer was an arrow in a thick planning report pointing to a “boundary change.” This City action to transfer the lands is estimated to have created an instant $50 million windfall to Great Gulf Homes . After being pressed for answers, neither the City nor the CVC has yet produced any information to suggest that they received any compensation for the forest. A formula normally applies requiring hectare-for-hectare compensatory plantings when trees are removed from table lands. In this case, City direction to the consultants who produced developer-funded “Environmental Impact Studies” was that the Huttonville Forest be designated as “Valleyland.” In City vernacular, that label exempts lands entirely from the rigor of detailed tree and vegetation analysis and compensation.
Massive Executive houses, that few can afford will replace the decades old forest land that now tumbles irregularly down the river slope. The land is poised to receive final plan approval, unless something is done, and will be shaved clean of all life and vegetation, and then filled in with several metres of soil to match the adjacent table lands.
The greenspace boundary change, amending the community’s approved official Secondary Plan, that took place in 2010, without CVC approval and without any public disclosure to citizens, was the first deviation to public process. More followed. The one (and only) public meeting held on April 9, 2018, failed again to disclose to participants that the thriving forest was underneath the housing blocks displayed to the public. Again later, no public notice was given to residents, when a Draft Plan and Rezoning of the lands was considered by the Planning and Development Committee of Council in 2021 . During that meeting, it would appear one local Councillor was cognisant of the blindsiding of citizens. He asked, explicitly, that before the motion be heard again, that City staff “extend the distance requirements for notice of this application to all residents of River Road (the Huttonville residents most affected by the project).” City staff did not comply with this formal Council request, taking away any opportunity for knowledge-of, and challenge-to the forest destruction, by citizens.
Save Huttonville Forest team is committed to fighting this, but there’s nothing like the passion found in the words of Grade 7 student Shaurya Jadeja, from Cheyne Middle School. His class wrote letters to local politicians, after learning of our issue, expressing in some cases a very raw fear for their own future, with the environmental destruction they see.
Shaurya wrote: “Huttonville forest has been around for decades, the ecosystem has been built so strong that taking away parts of the forest is going to affect not only us as humans but the entire ecosystem chain. I understand that you want to grow your city, which is a great idea, but I suggest that you grow your city in places that might not be affected as much as Huttonville forest. On another note, Huttonville residents need to agree on the terms of new houses being built over their land. Sources show that in 2009 and 2010 the decision was made to destroy the forest but in hidden documents. Why? Also, later in the year 2018 a public meeting was held, though the builder doesn’t show the plans of the forest being cut down. What are your thoughts about the incident? The information presented in the year 2018 misled the public into agreeing with the “draft plan”. Though in the year 2021 the residents of the area soon come to understand that the “draft plan” was to destroy the Huttonville forest but it was too late it was virtually impossible to change it now. But I haven’t given up yet and it is never too late to do the right thing. Also, CVC should be protecting the areas that are close to rivers to protect the health of watersheds. Yet they are not. What do you have to say about this?” The destruction of Huttonville forest is not only affecting the animals in a way of living but is also taking away their home, taking away their family and much more. I really hope that you take this letter to heart and that you rethink your plan. Thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing Huttonville forest but not the houses, the trees.”
It is unclear why local Councillors have chosen not to call for deeper investigation into this issue. Not one member of Council has spoken to the Save Huttonville Forest team and the only response to date, is a brief e-mail stating that a public meeting was held, and that notice was in compliance with policy.
Without a strong public outcry, we fear this forest and wetland is doomed. We urge readers to challenge this loss of precious forest, by sharing this information and contacting city politicians. To learn more, please visit, and consider joining, the public Facebook Group site “SAVE HUTTONVILLE FOREST”
A footnote: Huttonville Forest is estimated to contain 5000 mature CO2-absorbing trees (10% of the small sapling plantings the City strives to plant each year). In 2019, Brampton City Council voted unanimously to declare a “climate emergency” aiming to reduce CO2 by 80 per cent by the year 2050. Current science indicates that even if all existing climate pledges are achieved, they won’t be enough to reduce global energy-related CO2 emissions to net zero by 2050. Shaurya, presently age 13, will be 41 in 2050, and perhaps raising his own children, when a potential 2-3-degree Celsius rise in world temperatures will begin to display catastrophic effects.
The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is asking for public input as it prepares an update to the watershed plan for the Etobicoke Creek. The last watershed plan was prepared in 2002 and updated in 2010.
The Etobicoke Creek flows for about 35km from northwest to southeast. It starts in southern Caledon, travels through forests, open areas, a dozen or more parks, three golf courses and hectares of residential, commercial and industrial properties. It runs past Main Street in downtown Brampton, past the western end of Toronto Pearson Airport, becomes the boundary line between Toronto and Mississauga. Eventually the creek empties into Lake Ontario along the shores of Etobicoke at the western edge of Toronto.
Second only to the Don River watershed in area, the Etobicoke watershed covers over 200 square kilometres. The watershed is classified as heavily urbanized with almost 60% of the area designated as urban, 28% rural and only 12% as natural. The urban pressure on the watershed has been increasing steadily over the past several decades and watershed health as measured by water quality, habitat loss, biodiversity loss, flood protection and erosion control has continued to decline.
The Etobicoke Creek watershed provides natural habitat for many species of plants and animals including birds, fish, mammals and amphibians. As mentioned it supports dozens of parks, for both active and passive recreational activities and provides much needed areas for overland flood management and protection. Its future depends on the Town of Caledon and the rest of Peel Region growing sustainably, putting as little additional strain as possible on already fragile eco-systems.
Please let the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority know you care about protecting this important natural resource. HAVE YOUR SAY!
The Brampton Environmental Alliance (BEA) is teaming with Engage Peel, Human Impact Environment and GreePAC to host an all-candidates debate for the upcoming Provincial election in the riding of Brampton North. The debate will take place virtually on May 17th, 6:30-8:00pm.
GreenPAC is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that runs 100 Debates on the Environment, with the objective to make the environment an issue that no party and no candidate can ignore. GreenPAC works with local groups to co-ordinate and underwrite the costs of hosting an all-candidates debate.
“GreenPAC believes, debates let candidates know that the environment is a top voter priority”, according to GreenPAC Program Coordinator Rizwana Hussain. “They help voters to make the connection between climate change and their other priorities, like health and affordability, and to make an informed choice at the polls.”
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.