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Too much salt!

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Excessive salt used in commercial property

During the past weeks, we have encountered several examples of salt not being used or stored properly in Oakville. We saw excessive salt being used in parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, even residues of salt inside the GO train. The impacts de-icing chemicals have in the environment are numerous, it affects the soil, surface water, groundwater, vegetation and fauna.

Salt “inside” the GO train
Salt “inside” the GO train

It is rewarding to see that new generations are aware of the impacts our actions have in the environment. Read the article written by Christine McPherson about road salt.

Let’s Help Stop the Harm Caused by Road Salt

Road salt has become the cheapest and most common way to de-ice our roads, sidewalks, and driveways. Every year, Canadians use 5 million tonnes of rock salt. This salt doesn’t just disappear when the snow melts, it dissolves and washes into groundwater, streams, and lakes. Salt can be very dangerous to ecosystems, particularly aquatic habitats, where it only takes one teaspoon of salt to pollute ten litres of water.

In recent years, Mimico Creek has been inhabited, mysteriously, by Blue Crabs. Blue Crabs usually live in the highly salty Atlantic Ocean. Mimico Creek has become so polluted by rock salt that these creatures are able to survive, and it should serve as a warning to Ontarians to monitor our road salt use.

There are many simple ways that we can do our part to decrease the use of rock salt on our driveways and sidewalks. The best way to avoid excessive salt usage is to always shovel first, as salt should only be used on icy surfaces. You may find that you don’t need as much as you thought you did. Another alternative is to use sand or kitty litter. Although these may not melt ice, they provide traction on slippery walkways. Also, the juice from sugar beets can be used, as it is known to bring the freezing temperature of water down to -25 degrees Celsius. If we all do our part to reduce the road salt usage, we can help protect our groundwater, streams, and lakes.

Thank you Christine!

We have talked about looking for alternatives. There are different types of de-icing chemicals.  Here is an article from the Minnesota Stormwater Manual where they describe the environmental impacts of road salt and other de-icing chemicals.

 

Other useful tips:

  • Pre-wet the salt before applying. This will help the salt adhere to the pavement and will improve the de-icing process. You will need less salt
  • Look for alternatives with little or no chloride
  • Read the instructions or the product of your choice and only use the suggested amount

 

Take responsibility, get informed and act!

Speak out on Bill 66 – An Oakville Call to Action

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We need YOU to share your voice to protect the environment around us!

Please read on and find out why Oakvillegreen is asking for your help to oppose a new bill being brought forward by the provincial government.

Bill 66 is proposed legislation that spells devastating consequences for our Greenbelt, watersheds, farmland and wildlife, by rolling back decades of environmental protection acts, eliminating public input, and designing a process with NO notice and NO chance for appeal.

We want to have this bill stopped.

Visit the Stopbill66.ca for more information on the legislation.

What you can do:

  1. Sign the Petition at EnvironmentalDefense.ca
  2. Email, write or phone your MPP

Tell your MPP and Premier Ford to keep their campaign promise to NOT allow development on the Greenbelt or water protection areas and Stop Bill 66. (MPP contact information is included below)

  1. Register your opposition at the Ontario Environmental Registry (click here). The Ontario government is collecting public feedback on Bill 66. The deadline to collect public opinion is January 20, but Queen’s Park returns on Feb 19th so continue to send your feedback.
  2. Stay tuned by signing up for our newsletter www.Oakvillegreen.org for your chance to join an information rally.

The Issue

The provincial government has proposed Bill 66, called the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, under the premise of “reducing red tape” for businesses seeking planning approvals and increasing employment. The fact is, similar to all other GTA regions, 46% of Halton Region’s land is already dedicated to employment lands. That’s 2,588 hectares of vacant land prime for employment opportunities right here in Halton. There is no need to allow developers and industry to sidestep essential public health and environmental laws and to pave over the Greenbelt. It simply is NOT necessary.

Schedule 10 of the proposed legislation includes amendments which would override critical water, agricultural and environmental protections, without requiring municipalities to provide notice or public hearings. It opens up the Greenbelt for unnecessary factory, retail and residential development: A developer’s dream. It lets corporations ignore drinking water protection rules, and guts the laws that help industry reduce the release of toxic chemicals.

The legislation would undermine decades of non-partisan work to safeguard our environment, and the health of communities across Ontario. This “red tape” that the government keeps referring to are the vital regulations set out in the Planning Act, the Greenbelt Act, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, the Great Lakes Protection Act, the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, the Clean Water Act and more.

Bill 66 would allow development to go forward with NO public notice, NO public consultation and NO ability to appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

Worst of all, Bill 66 will override any municipal Official Plans.

It’s hard to believe that despite how far we’ve come in understanding the value and importance of the environment around us, our provincial government is putting money in company pockets with disregard to our communal health and environmental prosperity.

Our municipalities are standing strong

Thankfully, many municipalities, including the Town of Oakville, are denouncing Bill 66 and the Schedule 10 provision, saying they already have plenty of surplus land zoned for employment and development, that they won’t sacrifice our natural ecosystems and environmental health, and that they value citizen input.

This is NOT about affordable housing. This is NOT about job creation. This is NOT about “red tape”.

 According to Environmental Defense:

We don’t need to develop the Greenbelt in order to have places to build new factories and homes. Government data shows that there is more than enough land designated for development within existing cities and towns to accommodate the expected population growth until 2041. And building houses on farmland in the Greenbelt doesn’t provide the affordable housing we need.

Despite the short timeline left for comment, Oakvillegreen has banded with over 20 groups and thousands of Ontarians to oppose the ravages of Bill 66.

The Bill goes too far, threatening valuable greenspace, farmland, and groundwater and encourages urban sprawl while making developers rich.

JOIN US. Voice your OPPOSITION to Bill 66 and Schedule 10.

MPP Contact information:

MPP Stephen Crawford (Oakville)

stephen.crawford@pc.ola.org

Constituency: Unit 1, 74 Rebecca St.,Oakville, ON, L6K 1J2

Tel: 905-827-5141

Queen’s Park: Room 271, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON, M7A 1A8

Tel:  416-326-7323

MPP Effie J. Triantafilopoulos (Oakville North—Burlington)

effie.triantafilopoulos@pc.ola.org

Constituency: Unit 570, 2525 Old Bronte Rd., Oakville, ON, L6M 4J2

Tel:  905-220-8448

Ministry: Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Hepburn Block, 11th Floor, 80 Grosvenor St., Toronto, ON M7A 2C4

Tel: 416-327-4300

Hon. Rod Philips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

rod.phillips@pc.ola.org

Ministry: Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

Ferguson Block, 11th Floor, 77 Wellesley St. W., Toronto, ON, M7A 2T5

Hon. Doug Ford, Premier, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

doug.ford@pc.ola.org

Ministry: Premier’s Office

Room 281, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON,  M7A 1A1

Tel:  416-325-1941

 

You can help to protect our groundwater

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We need to protect our vital water resources. Urban sprawl is developing and paving over sensitive stream headwater and groundwater areas.  Protected areas like the Greenbelt, green infrastructure in our communities,  and ‘low impact development’ landscaping installations, such as rain gardens, bioswales, soakaway pits and greenroofs, all help to protect our groundwater systems, and prevent pollutants from entering creeks and lakes.

One of our OCA Youth Stewards leaders, Christine Macpherson, is doing her part by sharing ways we can all take action to protect water quality and groundwater:

~ You Can Help to Protect Our Groundwater ~

Groundwater is an essential resource that provides clean drinking water to over 30% of the Canadian population. Groundwater is found below our forests, farmlands, and cities, yet most people do not understand its true importance in our daily lives. Although invisible to the human eye, we use it for farming, drinking water, and for industrial processes. Not only is this resource important, it is also more vulnerable now than ever before.

Our groundwater is being depleted in many areas across Canada due to over-pumping and pollution. The quality of our groundwater matters just as much as its quantity. The use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers infiltrates through groundwater into our water supply, increasing the need for chemicals used in purification.

There are many ways that we can help to protect our groundwater. It can be as simple as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth. Another way is to plant native grasses and gardens with plants native to the climate of Ontario. These plants will reduce the need for chemical applications and extensive watering, protecting our groundwater in the process. Some species of grass native to Ontario are sweetgrass and bluestem grass. More information on plants native to Ontario can be found  here.

It is also important to properly manage hazardous waste (batteries, pharmaceuticals, motor oil, etc). Most communities, including the Halton region, have facilities to properly dispose of this waste. Hazardous materials can be disposed of at the Household Hazardous Waste Depot at the Halton Waste Management Site, 5400 Regional Road 25 in Milton. In doing this, we keep toxic chemicals out of our water supply and also protect the environment.

In conclusion, we need to protect this essential resource. It may not be as visible as the lakes and rivers that flow through Canada, but it is just as important.

Christine Macpherson

OCA Youth Steward Leader