In the lead-up to last fall’s general election in Ontario, Sustainable Waterloo Region partnered to create a non-partisan expert review of the energy policies of leading political parties, entitled Ontario’s Energy Future: A Climate Change Perspective, with the goal of informing the debate surrounding the province’s energy and climate future. Now, one year later, residents of the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo will head to the polls in a by-election scheduled on Thursday, September 6th and Sustainable Waterloo Region has asked each of the four leading candidates to contribute a guest blog and inform the reader:
- How their party’s platform has evolved over the past year
- What they see as the most pressing environmental issues in Waterloo Region and Ontario as a whole
- How the provincial government can support organizations in becoming more environmentally sustainable
- Why they, and their party, are the best choice for action on the environment and organizational sustainability
The blogs will be released un-edited in the same order as they are received.
Candidate Response: Eric Davis, Ontario Liberal Party
Our environment is precious. As a father of a young daughter here in Kitchener-Waterloo, and as a former Ambassador for Sustainable Waterloo Region, I feel strongly that each and every one of us can play a role in reducing our environmental footprint.
Ontario Liberals are investing in public transit, protecting green space, protecting the water we drink and launching the fastest-growing alternative energy program in North America. We’re working to reduce air pollution by closing coal-fired power plants, encouraging new alternative energy projects such as wind and solar power, and promoting energy conservation measures.
Our plan is getting results — only Ontario Liberals will complete the phase-out from dirty coal by 2014 and ensure that Ontarians have clean air to breathe. Phasing out dirty coal-fired generation by 2014 is the single largest climate change initiative underway in North America. The PCs and NDP would endanger the growth of Ontario’s clean energy economy and keep dirty coal plants open.
Only Ontario Liberals Will Protect Our Air, Land, and Water
Much of Kitchener-Waterloo relies on groundwater for its drinking water. We want to help communities such as Kitchener-Waterloo protect their drinking water supplies through prevention by developing protection plan committees that are locally driven. When the PCs were in government, they cut the Ministry of the Environment’s budget which had tragic consequences for the safety of Ontario’s drinking water. Furthermore, despite a commitment, the NDP failed to pass a Safe Drinking Water Act.
We passed the Clean Water Act, helping protect drinking water from source to tap. In addition to establishing source protection committees, Ontario Liberals have provided over $200 million through the Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Program to help landowners and businesses take early action to protect water sources.
Closing Coal Plants and Cutting Emissions
Ontario Liberals announced our plan to shut coal-fired electricity generation stations by the end of 2014. Ontario is one of the few jurisdictions in the world, and the only one in North America, committed to the phase out of coal – it’s the largest greenhouse gas reduction project in North America. Today, we are seeing real progress. As of December 31, 2011, Ontario will have cut the use of coal by approximately 90 per cent since 2003.
Ontario has the second lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, which is about half of the national average. We’ve invested unprecedented amounts in our public transit including GO service to Kitchener-Waterloo and light rail transit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve efficiency. Our new building code is rated “Best in North America” by the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance.
Banning Cosmetic Pesticides
Ontario’s Cosmetic Pesticides Ban is one of the strongest in the world. Our lawns, gardens, school yards and parks are a lot safer for our kids. The ban is working: a recent study on pesticides in urban streams shows that pesticide levels in Ontario waterways have dropped 80% since the ban came into effect.
Feed-in Tariff Program
Ontario Liberals introduced North American’s most comprehensive Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program in 2009. Thousands of contracts for renewable energy projects have been offered under the FIT program, projects that will create clean energy to power our homes and businesses.
Supporting Local Organizations Become Environmentally Sustainable
Ontario Liberals are supporting organizations in Kitchener-Waterloo to become more environmentally sustainable. Examples include:
- The Retrofit Program provides incentives for commercial and institutional customers to replace existing building equipment with high efficiency equipment.
Small Business Lighting
- The Small Business Lighting program is a direct-install initiative which provides incentives for energy efficient lighting and equipment upgrades.
- The Audit Funding initiative provides incentives for completion of energy audits to identify opportunities for energy efficiency and encourage medium and large business to undertake energy retrofits.
High Performance New Construction
- The High Performance New Construction initiative provides design assistance and financial incentives to building owners and architects to construct new buildings which exceed electricity standards in the Ontario Building Code.
We also introduced the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund to support community projects to help protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin. The fund is open to not-for-profit organizations and grants are available for projects in Ontario’s Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basin and their watersheds, including here in Waterloo Region.
The Choice for Kitchener-Waterloo Families:
I am determined to protect the gains we’ve made for cleaner air, water, and land for Kitchener-Waterloo families. The PCs and NDP would endanger the growth of Ontario’s clean energy economy and keep dirty coal plants open.
But we must do more. Ontario Liberals will continue to invest in clean technologies, helping industries to be innovative while reducing their emissions, and taking action to safeguard our communities.
For more on Eric’s platform, visit www.ericdavis.ca.
Sustainable Waterloo Region is a non-partisan organization as does not endorse any candidate or party. For more information on this series and to view the other candidates posts see Ontario’s Energy Future and the Kitchener-Waterloo By-Election.