and broadcaster David Suzuki says transportation planning must
include protection for natural resources.
fragile ecosystem is one of Canada's natural treasures
Great Lakes are truly deserving of their name. From the coniferous
forests that support populations of moose, caribou, lynx, and wolf
to the sandy beaches along the shores of Lake Ontario, Georgian
Bay and Lake Huron, the Great Lakes region is home to many intact
and distinct ecosystems.
family moved to Leamington, Ont., in 1945 when I was nine. Some
of my fondest childhood memories are of summers spent in magical
places like Lake Erie and Point Pelee National Park. It was heaven.
There were fascinating insects to poke and prod, waters teeming
with fish, and birds to watch for hours.
that is changing. The Great Lakes region is now home to more than
40 million people whose actions are profoundly affecting the regions's
ecological bounty. By burning vast amounts of gasoline or
any other fossil fuel we're producing carbon. dioxide and
altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere.
is causing climate change and putting enormous pressure on the Great
are already seeing signs of climate change throughout the region:
average annual temperatures are on the rise; the extent and duration
of ice cover is decreasing; and air pollution, once a symptom of
congested urban areas, is rapidly becoming a problem in cottage
do we solve these problems? Local government is the first line of
defence in the fight against uncontrolled sprawl, air pollution
and climate change. You can help to reduce our dependence on the
fossil fuels that heat our homes, cool our buildings and move goods
across the region.
municipalities in the area who are already taking action are finding
out that reducing greenhouse gas emissions also saves money and
City of Toronto has cut its emissions by a staggering 67 per cent
since 1990 by improving the energy efficiency of city buildings
and streetlights, and by treating gas seeping from garbage in municipal
landfills. Capturing landfill gases produced the greatest reduction
in emissions and also generates $2.5 million in yearly income for
energy efficiency measures resulted in much smaller emission reductions,
they save Toronto producing $10 million in energy costs each year.
it is not all good news. There is still a lot of work that needs
to be done. I understand that there is a proposal to build a new
highway through the Niagara Escarpment. This fragile ecosystem is
one of Canada s natural treasures. It even has the distinction
of being one of our United Nations designated biospheres. I cannot
agree with any plan that would run a new highway through it.
need to have a rational transportation planning process that looks
at alternatives, both in routes (away from the Escarpment) and at
methods we should have a made-in-Niagara Region rail freight
strategy, for example, and stop putting so many resources into last
century's approach. of building more highways.
I heard that the government of Ontario had introduced a Smart Transportation
Bill,I was pleased. There are some positive elements in Bill 25,
like transit passes for systems that overlap. But when I dug a little
deeper and saw that they mean to rewrite the environmental assessment
act to take out any analysis of the environmental and human health
impact of highway planning, I just shook my head. This is not smart
understand that some of the Ontario mayors here have a good analysis
of the impact of Bill 25 on their council decision-making process
and I hope you will join together to help defeat Bill 25 and replace
it with better legislation.
Great Lakes states and Ontario have programs that could be emulated
throughout the region. I can t mention all of the positive
contributions that cities and towns here have made to the environment,but
I d like to mention a few:
has made a concentrated effort to direct its growth south,and protect
its urban and rural boundary. I know that the residents there are
very concerned about the impact of the mid-peninsula highway on
their rural region, and I hope they will stick to their great official
plan. We need to save all the good agriculture land in Ontario that
- Sudbury has set a goal of becoming the most energyefficient
community in Canada. It is developing wind systems suitable for
residences, farms and businesses. It is also developing energy systems
to use geothermal power to heat and cool new businesses.
- St.Catharines should be proud of the many environmental
initiatives along the great stretch of its water systems.
wilderness areas and the plants and animals that characterize them
are central to our identity as Canadians. What would Ontario be
without our abundance of natural forests, lakes and rivers? Waiting
to address the environmental risks to the Great Lakes region will
only increase the severity of the problems and the expense of dealing
with them. As well,any delay increases the likelihood of irreversible
losses a terrible legacy to leave our children and grandchildren.
Suzuki is a Canadian scientist and broadcaster. He is chair of the
Vancouver based David Suzuki Foundation.This article is taken in
part from notes prepared for a speech by Suzuki to the International
Association of Great Lakes Mayors. The foundation s report,
Confronting Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region,can be down-
loaded from www.davidsuzuki.org.