Editorials - May 12, 2023
Farming outside the box
The endless push for land sometimes has different needs competing to use the same land, but it can just as easily spur a symbiotic relationship between two industries that don’t appear compatible at first glance. Agriculture and solar energy both need a lot of space to achieve their goals, but with governments around the world pushing for renewable energy, farmers may have an opportunity to create a lucrative second income stream from their acreage.
Agri-voltaics is a relatively new area of study in which researchers are using photovoltaic cells in a way that they are actually benefiting the crops that are under or next to them. Many crops actually get more sun than they need, so the shade provided by the solar panels could actually help maximize their yields and reduce the water required as well.
Based on simulations, researchers at the University of Western Ontario say that if just four per cent of Canadian farms adopted agri-voltaics, Canada’s carbon footprint would be brought to net zero.
We need to find ways of eliminating the use of fossil fuels, and agriculture could be at the forefront of renewable energy. Combining two of the most important things that we need to survive - food and energy - would make the best use of our available land resources. – DS
More is more
Premier Doug Ford is making some questionable decisions when it comes to the direction of the province. Whether it’s new proposed planning regulations that would decimate rural Ontario, the lengthy review of natural heritage policies that is not yet complete (with this government’s track record of environmental policies, you’d be right to be a bit worried) or the slippery slope to privatized health care, Ford is making calls that will echo for years. Lowering education requirements for police officers is another head-scratcher.
Recently, to address a shortage of officers, the Ford government said it would introduce a bill to boost police recruitment in part by removing the post-secondary requirement for new officers. That means soon, police officers will need only a high school diploma to be hired.
At a time when more discussions than ever are taking place around policing, from criticism of racial profiling and the use of excessive force to the idea that perhaps specially-trained social workers or community-based officers should be attending to mental health calls, it’s hard to see a world in which less education is the answer.
Being a police officer is a difficult, complicated job and one that, when a wrong decision is made, the consequences could be dire. They go far beyond issuing a correction in the next issue of the newspaper or a refund at the shop counter. In Canada, officers are among the few who carry guns, as opposed to our friends in the United “More Guns Than People” States, so we shouldn’t be seeking to lower the bar.
This is not to cast aspersions at those without a post-secondary education, many of whom have done very well for themselves. It is, however, a legitimate concern. With tensions as high as they are when it comes to policing and the job becoming more difficult by the day as public scrutiny rises, less education seems an unlikely answer. – SL
‘Death spiral’ by 1,000 cuts
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has reversed its decision to cut subway service, which had resulted in riders waiting for up to eight minutes for trains late at night. The service cuts, which came into effect on May 7 then reversed on May 8, had been part of the TTC’s plan to reduce service to 91 per cent of pre-pandemic levels to cope with lower ridership and decreased revenue. Before the reversal, the cuts had resulted in 1,238 fewer service hours per week.
The TTC is currently facing a budget shortfall of $366 million due to COVID-19 impacts, and restoring services to 100 per cent of pre-pandemic levels would cost $75 million per year. The recently implemented service reductions faced backlash from riders who argued that they would make them feel less safe while using the TTC, among other concerns. Additionally, transit experts had warned that cutting services due to decreased ridership would start a “death spiral”, by reducing services, thus driving away riders, necessitating more cuts.
Public transportation in a city is like the vascular system in a human body. Arteries and veins (busses and subways) transport blood (people) throughout the body (city) to deliver oxygen and nutrients (economic benefits). A healthier vascular system increases the likelihood of a healthier person. Likewise, a better funded transit system increases the overall effectiveness of the entire city. Supporting a strong public transportation system in Toronto is good for all Ontarians whether you live within the GTA or not. Toronto is the biggest economic driver in the country, with financial contributions amounting to roughly 20 per cent of Canada’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). An eight minute wait for a subway train might not sound like a long time, but if the result is economic gangrene, the consequences will last forever. – SBS