As we all take unprecedented measures to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, we can’t lose sight of an equally urgent public health crisis: climate change.
Article from New Tecumseth Climate Action, by Helen Doyle.
Climate change has serious consequences for our mental and physical health and, just like COVID, some already-disadvantaged populations are hit harder through no fault of their own.
This was one of the most valuable lessons from the pandemic, along with the fact that we all can, and must, take action toward the common good – our health is tied to that of others, and governments can act swiftly in the face of crisis.
These lessons are all applicable to climate solutions.
Governments Preparing Recovery Plans
As many governments are preparing recovery plans, this is our chance to support the local economy, address inequities, and build resiliency to future public health crises including climate-related disasters.
The Town of New Tecumseth has recently approved a Strategic Plan for 2019-2022 including a pillar on environmental sustainability. The New Tecumseth Climate Action group urges Town Council to support the principles of a Just Recovery Simcoe:
Invest in People
Invest in people by investing in local food production and local businesses that support green jobs.
The Strategic Plan includes “encouraging agriculture-oriented business development” and “preserving agricultural lands”. Supporting local food production is an investment in health since it can increase food security and nutrition.
Invest in Nature
Invest in Nature by protecting green space. The Strategic Plan aims to “protect natural areas from over-development“, “increase urban forest” and “support tree planting”.
Trees reduce exposure to extreme heat, filter air pollution and support physical and mental health. Nature-based solutions are increasingly recognized as integral to tackling climate change.
Invest in Communities
Invest in Communities by investing in active transportation such as bike trails and sidewalks.
The Strategic Plan states “all modes of transportation are integrated within the Town.” Active transportation promotes physical activity and improves local air quality.
Since the transportation sector is responsible for over a quarter of carbon emissions in Canada, active transportation is an important climate solution.
Individuals Can Take Action By:
- Reviewing the Town’s Strategic Plan and providing input on the Multi-Modal Active Transportation Master Plan by December 4, 2020.
- Speaking to your Councillor about the importance of preserving green space and enforcing the Official Plan requirement for parkland dedication in all development/ redevelopment plans.
- Exercising your right under the Planning Act to provide input on local planning proposals – supporting healthy communities, affordable housing; climate resiliency and protection of environmentally sensitive lands.
For more information about the New Tecumseth Climate Action Group, follow New Tec Climate on Facebook or email NewTecClimate@gmail.com
Just Recovery Simcoe is an alliance of 40+ groups from across Simcoe County and beyond. Their core belief is that a healthy community is one that is equitable, environmentally friendly, and one that seeks to provide healthy places to live and work for all. JustRecoverySimcoe.ca
Help create a just and sustainable future.
If you’d like to be a part of this initiative, or have comments or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.