Wetlands are among the most productive and diverse habitats on Earth. They provide incalculable benefits for communities, including flood mitigation, water filtration, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, wild foods and medicines, recreational opportunities and more. They are also of immense economic value. For example, wetlands can reduce the financial costs of floods by up to 38 percent; in the Great Lakes region the benefits provided by wetlands are worth 13 to 35 times more than the cost of protecting or restoring them; and in southern Ontario alone wetlands provide over $14 billion dollars in benefits every year.
Ontarians may have invented the Blue Box, but our current linear, make-use-dispose economy makes it impossible for recycling alone to solve our growing waste problem. Currently, less than seven per cent of Ontario’s waste is recycled through the Blue Box, and 1 the province sends over 8 million tonnes (70 per cent)2 of trash to landfills and incinerators every year.
The focus of the Strategy’s five goals should not just be on “Natural Resources”, but rather on the resilience of the province’s natural heritage landscape, using a watershed approach, in consideration of the cumulative effects of all past, present and future development on our air, land and water. Additionally, the scope of the Strategy must be broadened to encompass a review of all policies, guidelines and legislation that do not support the resiliency, conservation and protection of our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands in this warming climate. Continue reading
While the focus of this submission is on urban stormwater in the draft plans and regulation, we have included observations and recommendations related to complementary freshwater and natural heritage issues and other policy needs and opportunities. Ontario needs to transform the way rain is managed on the urban landscape and one important step forward is changing our land use planning framework to address stormwater management.
The campaign engaged thousands of rural and urban residents, and highlighted the need to protect critical agricultural land and water resources inside and outside the provincial plans. It also gave birth to the Food & Water First movement that continues to press for land-use revisions. NDACT and Food & Water First believe the Co-ordinated Land Use Review is an opportunity to bolster existing protections within these plans and extend them beyond their boundaries. In this, the United Nations International Year of Soils, the Ontario government can lead the country by protecting its farmland and water resources in a bold initiative that would benefit future generations.