In October I took a trip to India and came back with a renewed sense of passion for what I do and why I do it. I had the time of my life; expanding my horizons with new experiences, meeting new friends, spending quality time with my family and watching my only sister say “I do” in an enchanting traditional Hindu ceremony. Needless to say, I look forward to going back.
On top of the world: The foothills of the Himalayan Mountains
But it did make me think. India is culturally rich, with breathtaking landscapes, and a beautifully majestic environment. It also has a population greater than the whole of Canada with an infrastructure on overload and undrinkable water. In 2010, Canada’s population lingered around 34 million, India’s, roughly 1.2 billion. In the City of Delhi, where I spent most of my time, there is a population of 18 million, whereas Toronto’s hovers around the 2.5 million mark with roughly the same amount of area. I noticed an expansive “clean and green” initiative throughout the provinces I visited, and have learned that there are many dedicated environmental NGO’s working towards solutions, but the struggle towards drinkable water and solutions for pollution in a highly populated area seem an uphill battle. Ontario, and more largely, Canada has the opportunity to learn from those before us and make changes in infrastructure and planning now, before we look back and realize what we could have had.
Which brings me to why coming home to Ontario was such a breath of fresh air, literally. Citizens are beginning to see trends in smart infrastructure, with developers building up instead of out, saving our vital green spaces and ensuring us clean spaces for the future. We have even observed a trend in polling that repeatedly puts water on top of the list of environmental concerns for Ontarians. Not coincidentally, protecting the natural water systems remains the most-cited benefit of the Greenbelt according to 2011 polling.
With the growth rate of the Golden Horseshoe rapidly expected to rise to 11.5 million, Ontarians need the Greenbelt. Without green space around our cities, we’ll be brushing our teeth out of bottled water and boiling our morning tea and coffee with water purification tablets. For someone who hasn’t experienced it, it may not seem that big of a deal, but believe me when I tell you: it is.
Without any earnest environmentalist talk, the facts and common sense speaks for itself. When the population rises, so does our waste (and hopefully our sustainable practices). We need the space around our cities to and it’s not something we can think about later. Enter Ontario’s Greenbelt, a land use policy that makes more and more sense with our growing province. It is also a policy - which according to 2011 Greenbelt polling has public support that crosses political ideologies. To me, this is news to get excited about because this means a more secure future for me and for my future children.
Travel worn and perspective altered; the first thing I did when I got back to my house was go straight for the tap. A glass of tap water never tasted so sweet. And on Monday morning, I was ready to talk “Greenbelt” with more sincerity than ever before.
Carla Balabanowicz, Communications Coordinator