North Grenville Environmental Action Advisory Committee sets its direction


John Palmer on behalf of the EACC

There is an almost perfect alignment that thefirst meeting of the North Grenville Environmental Action Advisory Committee (EAAC) was held just a few weeks before we celebrate Earth Day.  

Appointed by Council, the EAAC exists “to provide information to local residents on environmentally sustainable practices, offer advice to the North Grenville Municipal Council on initiatives to promote a green economy, and to identify near- and long-term funding opportunities as suggestions for inclusion in the yearly budget and business planning cycles of the Municipality.”  Composed of a combination of members of Council and the community, it brings together not only the knowledge and concerns of the residents, but also the elected representatives with the legislative power to invoke change.

In a lot of ways, the committee is about “Earth Day, Every Day” for the people of North Grenville.

The previous term of the EAAC helped to bring our community a wide range of environmentally-related  elements including the large-scale organics collection program, the designation of North Grenville as a “blue community” (the formal recognition that water and sanitation are a human right, the promotion public water and wastewater services, and beginning the phase out the sale of bottled water at municipal events), to recommending funding for the smaller scale yet vital “turtle crossing” signs that you may soon see across the Township in areas where turtle species are at risk.

For the next term, the Committee intends to focus on leading policy and providing education in three main areas: eliminating our harm to the environment, the climate crisis, and biodiversity

Eliminating Our Harm – For centuries, humans have often neglected to recognize the damage we have done to plants, animals, and the Earth as a whole.  Nowhere is this more obvious than when we think about one key part of our environment: water.  As we all know, water is essential to supporting life; no creature or plant can survive without it.  In theory our planet has a large supply of it in various forms – liquid, gas and solid.  Although this supply of water has remained constant over time, as the population of our planet increases so does the demand for clean and accessible water.  Unfortunately, our actions as humankind have significantly reduced the drinkable amount of water and have increased the frequency of drought in many locations.  Industry, agriculture, building new communities, and even our day-to-day use of water as families all can lead to damage to not only local, but global water supplies.  As individuals, businesses, and governments we have a duty to preserve and protect the water resources from contamination not only for us and for future generations.  Our challenge as a community is to change our actions and behaviours towards water and all other resources, not only on Earth Day, but every day.

A Climate in Crisis – Science has shown us that Earth has a natural heating and cooling cycle that lasts thousands of years.  That cycle is what leads to a local climate – or what we think of as the specific pattern of weather that happen in an area over a long period of time.  Our climate in North Grenville has a consistent set of seasons for the most part, and we generally see the same pattern of temperature changes on a seasonal basis.  But as recent history has shown, we are seeing more hazardous weather events – from excessive heat and melting of polar ice on a global basis, to more local events such as unexpected periods of freezing rain, and large lakes and rivers that no longer freeze in January and February like they used to, which therefore lead to more snowfall.  These are merely symptoms of climate change.  Just as many of these changes are natural, we also know that many of these changes have been “kickstarted” by the actions of humankind on the planet.  We often consider the mass industrialization in the 1800’s as the beginning of the first set of human-induced changes to the natural cycle of climate change on the planet.  Since then, we have accelerated industrialization to meet our demands as a growing population, but at the same time making unanticipated changes to the climate cycle.  Our challenge as a local community is to recognize that each of us makes negative impacts that add together to become larger global impacts.  At the same time, however we need to recognize our personal ability to have positive impacts as well, and to make those changes – no matter how small – that can slow the process of human-created climate change.

Biodiversity – at first glace, North Grenville may appear to have little obvious unique differences in geography, plant life, or even animal residents when compared to neighbouring municipalities in Eastern Ontario.  What we consider to be “local” species of plants and animals either moved into the region from the warmer south after the glaciers retreated or were brought in by human beings.  As part of our agricultural heritage, the settlers cleared forests for agriculture and used the wood for building and heating homes – in many cases destroying whatever native plants and animals remained at the time. However, threats to biodiversity continue today.  The unfortunate reality is that human-induced climate change is disrupting many species and their ability to survive.  As we have developed more intensive agriculture practices, our fields now support fewer varieties of plants.  Although we have begun to stop shooting many native mammals and birds, only some of those species have returned, and not always to the levels expected.   We also are all very aware that invasive species such as Wild Parsnip are taking over large areas   Our challenge as a community is to not only maintain biodiversity, but to improve it through protecting our distinctive habitats, and reintroducing lost plant and animal species into regenerating habitats where possible.

The EAAC will work with Council and the Community on developing a Green Plan which provides ideas, solutions and proposed policies and legislation to implement change in support of these three areas – but more importantly recognizing their links to poverty, food, housing and energy insecurity, and other related local issues.  The goal is to provide functional solutions that the local community and North Grenville council can support and implement.   Building on the work of the previous committee, the Green Plan will include quick wins and longer term goals/projects that will keep our community moving forward beyond the committee’s four-year mandate.


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