Editorials - Nov. 24, 2023
This week, The Toronto Star reported that a prominent landscape architect, Walter Kehm (who previously designed Trillium Park and Tommy Thompson Park) had resigned from the controversial Ontario Place project for a specific and pointed reason.
The former Ontario Place is being redeveloped to accommodate a water park and private spa, and Kehm was advocating for hundreds of trees and a decades-old wildlife habitat that was designed by his friend, the late Michael Hough, for the original Ontario Place.
Kehm said that he could no longer be associated with the project, due to his professional commitment to protecting nature.
The public was already having trouble swallowing the 95-year lease given to a private company for the former popular waterfront destination. Allowing that company to proceed with clear cutting 800 trees on the property that have become an ecological niche over the past 50 years will likely not earn the provincial government a great deal of new fans.
Earlier this month, the Auditor General opened a value-for-money audit on the project, along with the provincial government’s decision to relocate the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place, making a side-step away from the project seem prudent. It seems like the Ontario government is once again favouring developers over the public. – DS
Far from me
Founding Publisher Keith Roulston will often recount tales of good old days of local control, decision-making and responsibility in his column, found just to the right on page five. Entities like governments, school boards and healthcare used to be handled locally by people you knew; people who lived on your street and went to the same church.
In search of efficiencies (though rarely finding them), these entities have undergone centralization. School boards oversee several counties now, instead of a single school. Amalgamation means a single council governs what used to be two, three or even five former communities. And while it was supposed to cost less (allegedly), administration costs have ballooned, everyone’s assistant has an assistant and run-of-the-mill locals are rarely known to those running these large businesses.
It is with that history in mind that people were concerned, flocking to information sessions in St. Marys, Seaforth, Clinton and Stratford earlier this week to learn more about “amalgamation” within the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance. While the Alliance has preached that nothing will change as a result of this proposal, from staffing levels to maintaining all four hospitals to services being provided, terms like “streamlining” and “efficiencies” have people wondering what is next.
As decision-making power has crept further and further away from communities like Seaforth and Clinton, locals are right to be worried, thinking this change will just be another case of losing control over something important to their communities. Whether their concerns are warranted or not remains to be seen and, frankly, time will tell. – SL
In a significant setback to Canada’s ambitious agenda to combat plastic pollution, a recent court ruling has dealt a blow to the federal government’s ban on single-use plastics, including ubiquitous items such as plastic bags, straws and disposable cutlery. The regulations were designed to position Canada as a global leader in the urgent fight against plastic waste. Justice Angela Furlanetto of the Federal Court delivered a verdict declaring the government’s classification of these plastics as toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as “unreasonable and unconstitutional”. This decision marked a victory for a coalition of plastics manufacturers and industry groups, fronted by major players like Imperial Oil, Nova Chemicals and Dow Chemical.
The controversial ruling was met with celebration in Alberta, where Premier Danielle Smith emphasized the province’s role in plastics manufacturing. Smith released a statement in response to the decision, championing the province’s stance against what she calls federal interference, smugly declaring that “Alberta wins again”. The court’s decision not only validated Alberta’s objections, but also highlighted the ongoing tension between federal environmental policies and the interests of provinces heavily invested in industries affected by such regulations.
The ban was initially a cornerstone of Canada’s plan to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030. Its overturning has drawn sharp criticism from environmental advocates. Despite this significant setback, the government plans to address the ruling through an appeal and, possibly, by narrowing down the types of plastics listed as toxic substances. However, this latest development underscores the challenges Canada faces in maintaining its environmental agenda amid legal challenges, industry opposition and grandstanding premiers.
The delicate balance between economic interests and environmental sustainability continues to pose a formidable hurdle for the nation’s commitment to combating plastic pollution. – SBS