October 2020

Death by a 1000 cuts. Is it possible to increase tree cover in Barrie?

The City of Barrie’s Draft Official Plan has set an unambitious goal of 20% forest cover by 2041. For reference, Toronto’s target is 40%. With land at a premium, growth on the rise, and trees being removed to accommodate that growth, are we even going to be able to replace what is being lost, much less increase our cover?

Planting trees is indisputably one of the more important actions we can take in the fight against climate change. The federal government has committed to planting billions of trees in the coming years. But will any of those trees be planted in urban centres like Barrie? Probably not.

Silver Linings of COVID-19

  • Equality

At a time when our country is bracing for the second wave of COVID-19, which by many accounts may very well be worse than the first (never mind that many of us are still reeling from the first wave), it is all too tempting to lose sight of the big picture and fall prey to the growing angst and despair gripping our communities.

While in no way wanting to minimize the tremendous upheaval incurred by the global pandemic and the enormous toil it has taken on us, I believe it is vitally important to recognize the enormous opportunity it presents in terms of advancing a truly progressive agenda such as is articulated in the Just Recovery Simcoe movement — be it addressing the spectre of climate change, or the gross inequities unleashing havoc in our communities.

Lessons from COVID can help with the Climate Crisis

  • Health

Our communities will experience extreme weather events with infrastructure destruction that impairs healthcare delivery, worsening food insecurity, increased poverty in our most vulnerable neighbours, negative effects on our air and water quality, social upheavals driven by climate crisis refugees and new epidemics from “old “ pathogens like cholera and malaria.

My hope is that all levels of government will use the learning and changes demanded by the COVID crisis to tackle the climate crisis. People in our communities have shown that they can make massive lifestyle changes.