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Second HOW – Harvest Ontario Walk – October 14, 2023

The second Harvest Ontario Walk in Bolton was a success. We had a warm sunny day, a large number of enthusiastic participants, a noisy, visible walk through downtown historical Bolton, a stroll in a beautiful riverside park. The well choreographed and emceed program inspired and reminded us why were there. Why GASP opposes the building of Highway 413 – https://www.gasp4change.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/GASP-opposes-Highway-413.pdf

 

The grand finale at the 4 corners sent a clear message to our provincial government to stop the disastrous HWY #413. The constant supportive ‘honking’ is an indication of increasing public awareness. The walk was dedicated to the memory of Jenni Leforestier – a fierce contributor to the many environmental groups she worked with including Gravel Watch Ontario, the Coalition for the West Credit River, and the Stop the 413 and Stop Sprawl movements.

Sherry Ardell, Mary Bradley, GASP Co-chair Carole Holmes and Kathy Mason

Below members of SCAN (Seniors for Climate Action Now), GASP, the Unitarian Congregation of Mississauga and the Green Party of Ontario march along Highway 50 into the town of Bolton.

Here are four GASP members talking about why they don’t want Highway 413:

Pat Mckee – https://www.gasp4change.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/pat.m4v

Lorraine Green – https://www.gasp4change.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Lorraine-413-2.m4v

Michelle Tom – https://www.gasp4change.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/michelle.m4v

Norma Gamble – https://www.gasp4change.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/norma-gamble-message-413.m4v

GASP hopes our elected municipal representatives will help achieve the following goals:

  1. Develop and implement a municipal climate action plan consistent with global efforts to limit planetary warming to 1.5°C.
  2. Rapidly wind down fossil fuel use and other emissions through building retrofits, transportation initiatives, and improved waste management.
  3. Prioritize public health, as the climate crisis is our single greatest health crisis.
  4. Institute a broad public education campaign

Take Action – Current Campaigns

  1. Banks – stop funding fossil fuels
  2. Pension Fund Divestment
  3. Basic Income for Just Transition
  4. Ontario Climate Watch/Stop Sprawl – GASP is raising awareness of the Ontario government’s poor environmental performance. GASP recently organized a protest march against the proposed Highway 413 which will create increased urban sprawl. What is the cost of sprawl? Higher housing prices, longer car commutes and the continued loss of more than 300 acres of farmland per day. GASP member Michelle Tom had this article about sprawl published in the Toronto Star on October 17, 2022.
  5. Health Team –investigates the impact of the environment on human health with the goal of advocacy.

1. Bank Team

In 2020, GASP become aware that our big five Canadian Banks (RBC; TD; BMO; CIBC; Scotiabank) were among the 25 private banks in the world feeding the fire of climate destruction with ongoing fossil fuel investments.

Burning fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas – is the main driver of the global climate crisis. In the six-year period (2015-2021), since the Paris Accord, fossil fuel financing from 60 of the world’s largest banks has reached (US) $4.6 Trillion, with $742 billion in fossil fuel financing in 2021 alone.

Canada’s Big Five Banks are among the worst offenders. The 13th edition of the Banking on Climate Chaos report shows that RBC, Scotiabank, CIBC, TD, and Bank of Montreal all increased their financing of fossil fuels by a combined $61 billion in 2021. Between 2016 and 2021, Canadian banks have funneled an alarming $911 billion into coal, oil, gas, and tar sands. Just last year, all of Canada’s banks vowed to become ‘net-zero’ by 2050 – pledging to reduce financed emissions to zero, including offsetting measures – yet in that very same year they provided $165 billion to fossil fuel clients.

Of the “dirty dozen” banks, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD are all in the top 12, with RBC remaining at the top of the list as Canada’s worst offender of fossil fuel funding. “In light of RBC’s increased financing of fossil fuels over the last year, climate commitments without actual follow-through is just more hot air. We are incredibly disappointed that RBC is choosing to light our future on fire instead of being a climate champion,” said Sarah Beuhler, Stand.earth Senior Climate Finance Campaigner.

GASP Actions:

Wrote personal letters to RBC and TD CEOs in August 2020.
Followed up with additional correspondence to RBC and a letter to TD Ombudsman.
Postcard Campaign – December 2020


Meeting with RBC Sustainability Team – on commitment Day of Action “Fossil Banks No Thanks” January 2021.

Lorraine’s Op-Ed “Will my bank do the right thing and divest from fossil fuels”. Published in Hamilton Spectator February 2021

• Day of Action with FFF on March 29th, on banks with Greta pictures.

April Fools Day, 2021, social media blitz.
AGM letter writing campaign to big five banks – April 2021

Lorraine’s Earth Day Op-Ed April 2021 published in Hamilton Spectator

Mother’s Day Postcard Campaign May 2021 (Insert copy of postcard)

Carole’s Op-Ed “A Mother’s Day Call to Action on Climate” May 2021 published in The Spec and Time4Action
“Greenwashing” event July 2021
Global Day of Action for COP 26 #RBCisKillingMe October 2021
Kathleen’s Letter to the Editor “World Leaders We Will Not Accept More Empty Promises” November 2021 published in Hamilton Spectator and Welland Tribune
Shareholder Proposals submitted for RBC and TD November 2021 Shareholder proposal negotiations January 2021
RBC proposal rejected on word count. TD proposal accepted January 2021

Rally with FFF #PeopleNotProfit March 25, 2022 and the rally at RBC’s AGM April 7, 2022

Carole’s Op-Ed “We cannot be bystanders as Canada’s big banks accelerate the crisis” published in the National Observer,  Hamilton Spectator and Below2℃ in April 2022

We are asking RBC and TD to disclose timelines and transparent plans for stopping funding of fossil fuel projects, sacrificing our climate to make a profit and our grandchildren’s futures. Letters have been sent to both CEO’s, plus their Board of Directors. Just recently, over 925 postcards have been mailed to RBC and TD branches.

2. Pension Plans

Engaging with your pension plan is an effective way to create systemic change to protect our climate and your retirement.

Link for immediate action:

SHIFT – Action for Pension Wealth and Planet Health www.shiftaction.ca

GASP member Marilyn Ortwein summarized recent activities here.

3. Basic Income for Just Transition

Why Basic Income? Currently Canada, the Provinces and Territories have a patchwork of services to meet the needs of citizens that are often hard to apply for, hard to understand and fall short of providing enough money to meet the needs of families and individuals. Basic Income will be part of a robust system of social spending and programs including health care, mental health care, pharmacare, childcare, and education.  As well, it will strengthen labour and housing rights and regulations to ensure fair wages, benefits and access to affordable housing. The end result will be improved mental and physical health, stronger and more resilient communities and better economic outcomes without reducing the amount of work people are prepared to do. Canada already has some programs like this – Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors. Basic Income will be able to be rolled out in similar fashion.

On June 30, 2022 GASP member Karen Thompson had an article about basic income published in her local newspaper – The Meaford Independent. She concluded:

Some taxpayers worry that monthly support payments will encourage people who could be working, to stay home – on the couch. Numerous studies confirm that this mindset is a myth. Basic Income will encourage employment and ensure that only those in need receive financial support. Extensive studies around the world have proven it. For a full review of the experience of some of the people who were positively impacted by Basic Income watch the YouTube by BICYN “What Basic Income Bought Me”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLk64lmPrwM&t=3985s

Read her full article here.

We have worked with various cabinet ministers and senators to support the passage of Basic Income. We met with the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development of Canada for 40 minutes earlier this year.

Links for immediate action:

National child care program just introduced in 2021 and 2022.
Province of PEI has requested the federal Government to commence a Basic Income project immediately.

Watch May 25, 2021 GASP meeting with Julie Dzerowicz, M.P. for Davenport to discuss the issue of a guaranteed basic income.

  • GASP webinar, November 12,  2020, with MP Leah Gazan, former Senator Hugh Segal, and Tom Cooper, Hamilton Roundtable
  • “A Federal Basic Income Within the Post COVID -19 Economic Recovery Plan”, by Hugh Segal, Evelyn Forget, Keith Banting, 2020. Read here

4. Ontario Climate Watch/Stop Sprawl

On November 25, 2022 about 200 Halton residents showed up for a “Hands off the Greenbelt” rally to preserve the Greenbelt and protest Bill 23. Here is a video showing the crowd chanting in front of MPP Stephen Crawford’s office. The rally, organized by GASP members Sherry Ardell, Aki Tanaka and Dorothy Dunlop demonstrated how much residents care about preventing massive urban sprawl resulting from Bill 23. Thanks to everyone for showing up!

GASP helped organize a walk to protest Highway 413. Lorraine Green wrote: “The Harvest Ontario Walk, on Saturday, Oct 1, 2022 was a great success, with over 1000 people registering and approximately 700 people showing up at the Brampton Fairgrounds. Photos below show Carole and Lorraine welcoming the marchers.

Petition on 413: We are asking members to print out this petition, collect signatures and return to GASP.

Land Use Policy changes in August 2020 have threatened our farmland through urban boundary expansion. GASP members have been instrumental in defending farmland – specifically by advocating for firm urban boundaries at local municipal/regional levels by:

  • delegating to local and regional councils
  • hosting a webinar on Secondary Dwelling Units (SDU’s) in Hamilton with Emma Cubitt – https://invizij.ca/about-us/our-team/emma-cubitt/
  • Supporting StopSprawl Groups in Hamilton and Halton
  • speaking to media (Steve Paiken Show on this issue) – https://www.thepublicrecord.ca/2021/10/hamiltons-urban-boundary-debate-on-tvos-the-agenda/
  • educating the public with news articles and infographics through social media
  • organizing and attending “Save our farmland” rallies
  • delivering “Save our farmland” lawn signs
  • writing letters and calling municipal and regional councillors
  • hosting a “Save our Farmland” rally during summer, 2021
  • attending regional and municipal PIC’s Public Information Centres (PIC’s) on growth options for Halton Regional Municipality
  • letters to the editor on the importance of firm urban boundaries

Stopthe413 and StoptheBradford Bypass Subcommittee

– Ontario Climate Subcommittee has organized multiple Stop The 413 rallies in Oakville
-lawn sign deliveries
-interviews with podcasters/TV

Our latest rally was called the HOW – Harvest Ontario Walk

Ontario Government’s Destructive Track Record on the Environment

The Ontario Government has become an ‘obstacle’ to climate change progress, spending $30 million in 2019 to fight the federal carbon price in court. Since Ford took office, Ontario has cancelled 227 clean energy projects, wound down conservation programs, weakened endangered species protections and has taken away powers from the province’s environmental commissioner. The commissioner is meant to hold the government accountable.

In November 2020, the government slipped in drastic changes to its omnibus budget Bill 229. This Bill limits the role of conservation authorities in the development approval process by allowing government ministers to issue permits (MZOs) for development on environmentally sensitive lands. It also allows ministers to override decisions made by authorities to restrict development. Government actions are undermining watershed planning. They are also putting  our natural heritage and the future of the Greenbelt at risk.

List of Activities

The GASP Ontario Climate Watch/Stop Sprawl team has been on alert to monitor Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZO’s) and has forged relationships with local municipal councillors. On February 17, 2021, GASP supported Councillor Fogal’s motion to delay the Regional Official Plan Review. The motion was passed unanimously at the Halton Regional Council. Three GASP delegates, Lorraine, Daisy & Dorothy, supported the motion to delay the Regional Official Plan Review by making compelling presentations to Halton Regional Council.

Articles

“The most powerful mechanism municipalities have to minimize GHG emissions is land use planning. Land use planning locks in patterns of a lot of emissions or patterns of very little emissions.” Read article by Michelle Silverton Tom.

Ant-Sprawl Toolkit

GASP prepared an Anti-Sprawl Toolkit – April 13, 2021  to help cities fight for hard urban boundaries. The Toolkit provides a wide variety of resources and documents that will educate you on why land use planning is important and why urban sprawl is so costly in terms of increased taxes for infrastructure maintenance, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.  Halton Hills Councillor Jane Fogal wrote an excellent article on the Ontario government’s Places to Grow Act and the Provincial Policy Statement – A Sprawling Disaster

Delegations

Delegations at the municipal and regional level – Hamilton, Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton, Halton Regional meetings. GASP members were leaders in the Stop Sprawl movement.

Find out more about Ford’s two proposed highways. Click on link Ontario – yours to protect or yours to grow?

Rallies to Stop Highway 413 – GASP has organized many rallies to protest the proposed Highway 413.  The Ontario government is sabotaging our future by causing induced congestion on another highway and more sprawl in the communities that will spring up beside the highway. The GTA needs transportation solutions, but building more roads does not solve congestion. Instead of spending $6-10 billion dollars on another traffic jam, the Ontario government should be investing in low-carbon public transit, walkable communities, and climate change solutions.

Stop Highway 413 –  Environmental Defence Canada

5. Health Team

This is a new team – projects still in initial development.