One thing you’ll notice about the Greenbelt – whether you’re walking, cycling or driving – is the immense numbers of trees. In fact the Greenbelt is home to an estimated 200 million trees, and they do a lot more than provide a shady place to rest.
The Greenbelt’s forests capture and filter water, absorb air pollution, support crop pollination, and store and sequester carbon. These ‘eco-services’ are worth an estimated $1 billion – and the trees provide them for free.
Photo Credit: Michael Manet
Ontario is fortunate to have a landscape and ecology that sustains us with soil to grow our food, with forests to clean our air, and with rugged wilderness to explore. In the Canadian tradition, the land shapes our childhoods, supports our economy and represents our future. The Greenbelt is part of this heritage, building connections between those who grow our food and act as stewards of the land, and those who live in cities nearby.
I am pleased that the Province’s recent announcement on the Land Use Planning Review recognized the value of compact complete communities and green landscape, with recommendations to protect clean water and agriculture, to contain sprawl, and to grow the Greenbelt.
The U.S. Republican primary election is the best entertainment in town. The extreme statements by Donald Trump provide media fodder that is reminiscent of those by former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. The fighting on debate stages is better than any reality TV show. And now GOP elders entertain us with colourful language about the front runner.
But what's really interesting is the commonality between the rise of the unexpected candidates in both parties. Before you think me as crazy as the Donald, hear me out.
On the Democratic Party side, there is Bernie Sanders saying the other candidate is owned by Wall Street and its millions of donation dollars. Sanders is financing his campaign with small donations.That message is playing well for him and has propelled him as a serious threat to Clinton. Young people in particular like that message.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump often reminds his audiences that his campaign is self-financed and that his opponents are in the pockets of lobbyists. That makes him appealing to a large portion of his supporters.
So on both sides of the aisle American voters have tired of the influence of corporate donations. They believe them to be too dominant.
If you like a little fight, you might really love a Sprawl Brawl. The event, held on February 18th in Toronto by Environmental Defence, is a lively discussion that questions: What’s the cure for gridlock in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)?
I'm always surprised when I talk to regular folks—those not in the “Greenbelt” business—about how engaged they are in the Greenbelt and planning issues. I’m often impressed by how much they care, as well as by their intuitive observations and commentary. In other words, you don't need to be a fancy planner or 'died in the wool' environmentalist to have sensible opinions about smart planning and how we build our communities.
I've been working on environmental protection since 1988, creeping up to almost 30 years now. In that time, there have been a lot of international agreements. I vividly remember the Montreal Protocol created to phase out and eliminate ozone depleting substances, and the 1988 Climate Conference in Toronto. I participated in pre-consultations and agenda development for the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil, and I was thrilled to hear about the establishment of the Kyoto Protocol.
As my oldest daughter Zoë contemplates her post-secondary education, the next few months will be busy ones, as she applies to various universities. She’s keen to follow in her dad’s footsteps, hoping to study Environmental Studies and English in either Ontario or British Columbia. So my radar for youth and the environment was particularly alert when I came across a young boy in Niagara who wants to save a woodlot from being paved over by an unneeded road.
As a grant-making organization, we’re fortunate. We get to work with really smart people, and we get to insert ourselves in great new projects that make change. Since 2010, we’ve seen a return of $112 million in increased Ontario sales with our work. This proves that the Fund has been nothing short of a monumental success.
Guest speakers alongside former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. L-R: Foundation Chair and Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP Partner Rod Northey; Broadbent Institute Executive Director Rick Smith; Former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty; Foundation CEO Burkhard Mausberg; and Former Mayor of Mississauga Hazel McCallion.
Regardless of where you live in Ontario, you will likely have a strong opinion about Dalton McGuinty's time as Premier. His departure from politics wasn’t entirely smooth. But headlines notwithstanding, Mr. McGuinty has been called "Canada’s greenest premier ever." This is no small part due to his study of biology as an undergraduate student, and with that his understanding of ecosystems and commitment to environmental protection.
Given that this year was the Greenbelt’s 10th anniversary, this was an especially important Annual Report for us, because we had the opportunity to focus on what we've accomplished over the last decade. We also recognized what the Greenbelt Fund has achieved over the last five years in seeking to create sustained and systemic change to the food system.