Federal Election #2: Pontiacers speak about environmental issues

0
58

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

As our federal election on October 21 approaches, I asked three Pontiac residents about what they believe are pressing environmental issues, locally and globally. This is the second of a three-part series, an interview with Bristol resident, Virginia MacLatchy.
KF: Virginia, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

As our federal election on October 21 approaches, I asked three Pontiac residents about what they believe are pressing environmental issues, locally and globally. This is the second of a three-part series, an interview with Bristol resident, Virginia MacLatchy.
KF: Virginia, please tell us a bit about yourself.
VM: I live part-time in Bristol, a former teacher in Renfrew County, retired from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, member of Pontiac Environmental Protection, and volunteer with Ottawa Riverkeeper.
KF: What do you think are the three most urgent Pontiac-related environmental issues?
Flooding
VM: With unpredictable weather resulting from climate change, severe floods could become the norm. There were several doors and planks with nails washed up on my shoreline this spring from buildings constructed in the floodplain.
Property owners and municipalities should do better at respecting what is allowed in floodplains. It’s unfair for people to ignore existing legislation.
Similarly, shoreline regulations must be respected: there are far too many properties with trees removed and lawns extending to the water’s edge. Wetlands are drained or filled for development. We must learn to recognize the valuable role wetlands play in flood control and as carbon sinks — and protect them.
Some municipalities don’t monitor the maintenance of septic systems, making this voluntary. During the flood, untold, unnecessary amounts of septage may have ended up in rivers and on shorelines.
Municipalities should allow building inspectors sufficient time for proactive rather than complaints-based enforcement and allocate adequate legal budgets to carry out these obligations.
Waste
VM: Sadly, it’s easy to find garbage along roadsides and in the woods, recyclable materials in the garbage and plastic and other debris on shorelines.
Spring shoreline clean-ups in Bristol recovered cans, bottles, clothing, a BBQ, and fishing gear, where the most common items were plastic and Styrofoam bits, plus
cigarettes butts.
More recycling bins in public areas and publicizing information about proper disposal of items not accepted at local transfer stations could reduce amounts dumped elsewhere.
Above all, we must reduce the amount of waste we produce. Reducing
consumption and initiatives to re-use and re-purpose waste will help.
Climate Change
VM: In addition to flooding, impacts of climate change are felt in the Pontiac, from more mosquitoes to droughts.
Individual and government action is needed to reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions. Calculating one’s carbon footprint is helpful in identifying changes everyone can make that can result in a lower carbon lifestyle.
This past May, the MRC Pontiac purchased an electric vehicle and installed a charging station in Campbell’s Bay. However, frequent power outages were a concern when I considered buying a totally electric vehicle.
MRC discussions with Hydro Québec about outages plus additional charging stations could help encourage people to buy electric vehicles.
Pressure on governments for high-speed internet throughout the Pontiac could facilitate business retention and teleworking by employees who normally travel to work. And, continued support of the bus service keeps numerous commuting cars off the roads daily.
Shopping local rather than driving elsewhere reduces greenhouse gases and supports the local economy.
KF: What’s the greatest global environmental issue we’re facing?
And, what should our newly elected federal government do about this?
VM: I believe climate change is the most crucial issue, particularly in Canada where our country is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.
The new federal government needs to implement measures that will meet Canada’s emission targets in order to limit the global temperature increase to
1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.
It should eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, maintain a price on carbon and support the transition to a low-carbon economy. This includes significant investments in low-carbon energy development and energy efficiency, plus funding for skills development and retraining for displaced workers.

Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer, author, and visual artist. Contact her at fletcher.katharine@gmail.com and view her art at facebook.com/
KatharineFletcherArtist/