Schreiner to Liberals: Protect Guelph’s water from private profiteers

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QUEEN’S PARK — Today, Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, hand-delivered 1,700 postcards signed by people from Guelph and across the province to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, urging him to protect Ontario’s water once and for all. Schreiner has collected over 8,000 signatures in total to protect water.

“The multiple threats to our drinking water – climate change, urban sprawl and irresponsible quarry development – have come to a head in my home of Guelph and people are demanding the government finally take action to protect water,” said Mike Schreiner.

​For decades, successive provincial governments have devoted less and less money to natural resource management, and the Green Party is sounding the alarm on the negative impacts.

“This is not just an environmental issue; it’s about protecting the water that keeps us all alive. It’s time we start managing this resource as a public trust rather than let it be systematically depleted by big corporations that take the water and run. Thousands agree and I am bringing their voices to Queen’s Park,” said Schreiner.

The Green Party of Ontario has led the charge at Queen’s Park to safeguard our water from large mega quarry and landfill projects, single use bottled water, and urban sprawl. Greens would raise water taking fees so that companies pay their fair share to cover sustainable water management. Greens would legislate a priority of use for water that makes public drinking the top priority.  We would ban fracking and cancel plans for burying nuclear waste near the Great Lakes.

The postcard campaign calls on Minister Ballard to:

  1. Fix the Permit to Take Water process to put public drinking water in our communities first

  2. Not renew the Dolime Quarry’s water taking permit without the City of Guelph’s conditions

  3. Raise the water taking fee to properly fund sustainable water management

“We need transformative change in Ontario to make safe drinking water the top priority in all water use decisions, and the Green Party is determined to do that,” said Schreiner.

Green Party stands up for protecting water in Simcoe County

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TINY TOWNSHIP, ON — GPO leader Mike Schreiner visited the site of a controversial quarry project in Tiny Township today. Indigenous and community groups are fighting the renewal application from Dufferin Aggregates that would give them a 10-year extension of their license at the Teedon Pit. ​

“The Ontario government is failing to protect our water. This is unacceptable. I am honoured to be standing alongside water protectors like the Anishinabe Kwewag and Friends of the Waverly Uplands. We must defend our most precious natural resource,” said Schreiner.

Scientists who have tested the water have found it to be some of cleanest ever documented in the world. Local groups have organized before to protect it, mounting successful community opposition in 2011 to stop a controversial landfill proposal known as Dumpsite 41 that threatened the aquifer. Supporting community efforts to stop Dumpsite 41 was one of Schreiner’s first efforts as GPO leader.

“Greens are not against resource development, but it must be safe and responsible. When it threatens our water resources, that’s where we draw the line,” said Valerie Powell, Green Party candidate for Simcoe North.

Greens have successfully spoken out against proposals such as the Melancthon mega quarry in the past. Ontario has some of the weakest rules protecting farmland and water from aggregate extraction.

“We have a responsibility to manage water for future generations, but the current government’s priorities are backwards. When it comes to choosing between industry and people, the Liberals prioritize big industry,” said Schreiner.​

Indigenous leaders and community groups will be gathering tomorrow at the Teedon Pit to raise awareness about their fight. Support water protection in Waverly Uplands by signing the petition: https://www.change.org/p/ontario-ministry-of-the-environment-and-climate-change-protect-the-aquifer-that-holds-the-cleanest-water-in-the-world

On World Water Day, Ontario Greens pledge to continue fight to protect water

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CHATHAM, ON — Today, on World Water Day, the Green Party of Ontario would like to remind all politicians at Queen’s Park that there is nothing more precious than our drinking water. Water is life.

Yet, the status quo at Queen’s Park is allowing industrial activities that threaten our drinking water.

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner is calling for stronger protections for water. He supports changes to water-taking rules that prioritize water for people and communities before all other users.

“Water is a finite resource essential to our health, environment, and economy – and the province is failing to protect it,” said Green Party of Ontario Leader, Mike Schreiner.

Lax provincial rules allow quarries to dig below the water table and big multinational corporations to mine billions of litres of water on expired permits. During droughts when citizens face water restrictions, provincial law does not mandate a reduction in water-taking for big companies like bottled water operations.  

“The Liberals’ pandering to corporate interests on water withdrawals is yet another example of how they put well connected insiders before people,” said Schreiner. “Government has a responsibility to manage water as a public trust, in the public interest and in a way that ensures everyone has a right to access clean drinking water.”

Schreiner and the Green Party have worked on to protect water in his riding of Guelph and in communities across Ontario — from quarries, dumps, and bottlers. In addition to stronger water-taking rules, the Greens are calling for a ban on fracking in Ontario. The Green Party has collected nearly 8,000 signatures from people across Ontario on a range of issues regarding water protection.

“Putting water first is also putting people first,” said Schreiner. “Greens will continue to fight to protect our water on World Water Day and every day.”

Mike Schreiner and the GPO continues its Green Vision Tour through March 29. Visit www.gpo.ca/vision to learn about how we will protect people, planet and jobs and build a sustainable future for Ontarians.

Ontario needs a better deal from politicians at Queen’s Park

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(Queen’s Park:) – Ontarians are getting an unfair deal from the scandal-plagued Liberal government at Queen’s Park.

Needless transit stops that cost billions and serve developers more than commuters. Another 180% increase in electricity rates to rebuild nuclear plants to generate power Ontario doesn’t need. Increasing threats to our drinking water.

That’s why the Green Party plans to hold all parties at Queen’s Park to account on these issues in the fall sitting of the Legislature.

“Government decisions should be about what is good for people, not politicians,” says Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner.

“I’m tired of the political games and partisan self-interest that goes on at Queen’s Park. We will continue to continue to work with Ontarians to demand action on issues that people care about,” adds Schreiner. “We are ready to deliver real solutions for people.”

Schreiner outlined the GPO’s three top priorities for fall sitting of the Legislature:

  1. Stop giving the nuclear industry billions of dollars to generate surplus power.
    Just say no. The government must turn down the 180% electricity price increase requested by the nuclear industry. Instead, the GPO supports investments in people’s homes and businesses to save money by saving energy.
  2. Stronger protections for drinking water.
    Public drinking water for people and communities must the province’s top priority when issuing water taking permits. We also need stronger protections against industrial activities in source water regions and water taking fees that cover the cost of sustainable water management.
  3. Protecting workers and middle class families from rising levels of inequality.
    Dreams of owning a home, having a stable job and a high quality of life are getting further away. Greens will push the government to raise social assistance rates, build transit that works for people and implement innovative solutions so people and families can afford a home.

“We can’t wait until next year’s election to get action on inequality, electricity prices and water,” says Schreiner. “We will continue to mobilize people on doorsteps and in coffee shops to pressure the insiders at Queen’s Park to act.”

The GPO is on a mission to bring honesty, integrity and policies that work for people to Queen’s Park.

Activities at local quarry threaten Guelph’s water

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Open letter: Action needed to protect our water in Guelph

Dear Hon. Minister Ballard,

Guelph’s drinking water is under threat.

Activities at the River Valley Development’s (RVD) quarry, or Dolime Quarry as it’s known in Guelph, put the quality and quantity of local drinking water at risk.

The City of Guelph has repeatedly asked the provincial government for action on this issue.

I sincerely hope you can provide a new set of eyes on this file. The people of Guelph deserve to have the city’s water supply protected.

Since 2003, the City has sent letters to your Ministry raising concerns about the quarry’s threat to the quality and quantity of Guelph’s water supply. In February of 2009, a technical committee with experts from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), Ministry of Environment (MOE), RVD, and the City concluded that quarry operations had created an environmental risk to Guelph’s water supply. On February 11, 2013 the City filed an application for a Leave to Appeal the amended Permit to Take Water (PTTW) for RVD’s Dolime Quarry. Ongoing negotiations have not resolved this matter.

Thousands of Guelph residents have signed a petition calling on the province to protect our city’s water supply. In an unusual show of cross party cooperation all four of the major party candidates in the 2014 provincial election came together to support the City’s efforts to protect Guelph’s water.

Yet, RVD’s Dolime Quarry continues to threaten the quality and quantity of Guelph’s drinking water.

The City has asked for four simple and fair conditions to be placed on RVD’s PTTW. These prudent and responsible requests would help protect Guelph’s source water:

1. Limit water pumping to the “historic average pumping rate”
2. Create a comprehensive long-term management plan for the quarry that protects Guelph’s water
3. Establish an effective monitoring program
4. Put in place financial assurances and legally enforceable requirements so that the quarry owner – rather than Guelph ratepayers – pays for long-term mitigation costs related to the quarry’s operation.

The City of Guelph’s conditions are reasonable and deserve action from your ministry. The people of Guelph need to know that when they turn the taps on clean water will flow.

The MOECC has failed to show leadership on this file to date. As a relatively new Minister at MOECC, I’m asking you to step up. The people of Guelph deserve action.

We now have an opportunity to fix this. The current permit, which the City opposed, is set to expire at the end of this year. Negotiations to address the City’s concerns have failed to date.
It is time for your Ministry to do the right thing — implement the four conditions requested by the City of Guelph.

Minister, I appreciate your consideration of my concerns regarding the threat posed to the quality and quantity of Guelph’s water supply by the activities of RVD’s Dolime Quarry. I urge you to act now. I’m available to discuss this matter in person if you would like to schedule a meeting.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner
Leader, GPO

Submitted to:
Hon. Minister Chris Ballard
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
11th Floor, Ferguson Block
77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2T5

September 7, 2017


Sign our petition to protect Guelph’s water from the Dolime Quarry here.

 

Submission Letter to CNSC re: EIS CNL’s Proposal for NSDF at Chalk River, Ontario

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Nicole Frigault, Environmental Assessment Specialist

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

 

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility – Public Commenting Process

CEAA Reference number: 80122

Dear Nicole Frigault:

I’m deeply concerned with the proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Site in Deep River, Ontario (CEAR Reference # 80122).

Citizens, businesses and community groups are concerned that the proposed site is being fast-tracked for approval despite the fact that it does not meet safety standards established by the International Atomic Energy Agency. A number of retired scientists from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) are critical of the plan.

Concerns with the plan include an unsuitable location next to wetlands that drain into the Ottawa River and the use of inadequate technology. In addition, the proposal does not meet regulatory requirements with respect to the health and safety of people and the protection of the environment.

Some experts have raised concerns that the NSDF proposal fails to fulfill all requirements set out in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act for public consultation and assessment of alternatives.

This plan threatens the quality of drinking water for millions of people who live downstream. Government has a responsibility to ensure that people’s health and drinking water are protected.

Given the many concerns regarding the NSDF, I urge the CNSC to deny the proposal at this time. I urge you to send this proposal back to the drawing board so that our health, water and environment are protected for present and future generations.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner

Leader, Green Party of Ontario

 

Greens support giving municipalities more power

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(Ottawa): “Municipalities need more power and autonomy to address 21st century challenges,” says GPO leader Mike Schreiner while attending the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa.

The Green Party supports providing municipalities with more flexibility, autonomy and tools. Schreiner believes cities need more flexibility to close the infrastructure gap and fund services while reducing the tax burden on municipal property tax payers.

“Cities should be able to diversify revenue sources to reduce demands on property taxes without begging for permission from the province,” says Schreiner. “The province cannot stand in the way of municipalities ”

Schreiner supports giving cities the power to implement revenue tools such as congestion charges on city roads to reduce gridlock and pay for infrastructure. Cities need more autonomy to address infrastructure, transportation and housing challenges according to the Greens.

“The Liberals should be ashamed of the way they threw Toronto Mayor Tory under the bus on road pricing,” says Schreiner. “The NDP and Conservatives are more interested in playing political games than solving gridlock in municipalities across Ontario. We need honest answers to how municipalities can pay for infrastructure to make our communities more livable.”

Schreiner is also calling for municipalities to have more power when the province issues water taking permits. The GPO supports managing water as a public trust in the the public interest. Greens are calling on the government to prioritize public drinking water for municipalities over other users when issuing permits to take water.

“It’s ridiculous that a multinational corporation could outbid the Town of Centre Wellington for access to water,” says Schreiner. “Or that the City of Guelph has to fight a private corporation and the province to protect the city’s water from a quarry. This has to change.”

The GPO is on a mission to bring honesty, integrity and solutions that work for people to Queen’s Park.

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Green Party of Ontario says it’s time to ban fracking in Ontario

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For immediate release
June 23, 2017

(Toronto, ON) – A recently-passed amendment to the provincial Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act may open the door to fracking in Ontario.

Jurisdictions like New York, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have already passed bills to ban hydraulic fracturing due to health and environmental concerns. Although no hydraulic fracking for shale gas currently exists in Ontario, the Liberal government has in the past provided mapping data to assist in exploration for the fracking industry.

Plus, the Ontario Liberals have so far refused to ban the practice.

In Canada and the US, fracking is linked to increased earthquake frequency, high methane emissions and risks to drinking water. These not only risk our health and environment, they undermine our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

Ontario should ban fracking before these threats become real.

Quick Facts

Additional Information

Quotes

“No fracking way will Greens stay quiet while the Liberals open the possibility of allowing fracking in our beautiful province. Fracking could pollute our drinking water, cause earthquakes and undermine the province’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.”  

— GPO leader Mike Schreiner 

“Fracking poses a threat to our water and has no place in Ontario. If the Liberals are serious about protecting our water and reducing climate disrupting pollution, they would support a ban on fracking.”

— GPO leader Mike Schreiner

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Open letter: More change needed to protect our water

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Hon. Minister Glen Murray
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
11th Floor, Ferguson Block
77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2T5
gmurray.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

June 15, 2017

Open letter: More change needed to protect our water

Dear Hon. Minister Glen Murray,

Our water must be protected.

Thousands delivered this message at Waterstock to demand stronger protections for water—water is for life. Everyone should have a right to clean drinking water.

Your government’s proposed new water taking regulations fail to put water for people first. You’ve let down the thousands of people who wrote your government asking for stronger protections for public drinking water.

The people of Ontario deserve better.

I urge you to manage our water as a public trust in the public interest. Public drinking water for communities should have priority access to water over commercial and industrial users.

Your Ministry recently made some changes that amount to a small step in the right direction. But more must be done.

To start, Permit To Take Water (PTTW) rules should establish public drinking water for communities as the top priority.

Your own Ministry, as well as the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), has acknowledged that climate change will likely lead to more droughts that cause water shortages. Restrictions on water taking will likely be necessary under these conditions.

Restricting public access to municipal water should not happen without first restricting private access for commercial and industrial users. Even the possibility that people would be forced to buy water from a private company because public drinking water is not available is unacceptable.

Quarries and bottled water companies should face mandatory restrictions on water taking during droughts. Their water taking permits should be restricted, revoked or denied if science reveals water shortages.

Minister, I ask you to make it explicitly clear in law that water for public drinking and growing food has priority over all other users when issuing a PTTW. Now is the time for the province to establish clear guidelines for priority access to water taking permits. It is irresponsible for your Ministry to wait until there is a crisis.

I am also deeply concerned about the new water taking fees for water bottlers. I have strongly advocated for an increase in water taking fees, but believe such an increase should be based on science, data and best practices. The Ministry should set the fee based on a cost recovery rate. The fee should not be too high to avoid treating water as a commodity for a government cash grab. Nor should the fee be too low so that taxpayers continue to subsidize commercial water taking.

Your Ministry has not shared any data on why the new rate is set at $503.71 per million litres.

This is still a drop in the bucket for bottlers who retail a 500 ml bottle at convenience stores for $2 but only have to pay $0.0005 for a litre of public water–water that is taken out of our watershed and shipped elsewhere to be sold for profit.

It is critical that the water taking fee is set at a level that properly funds water management programs. The ECO has for years raised concerns that water management programs are underfunded.

As well, a portion of the water taking fee should also help fund sustainable water management for municipalities. Once proper funding is in place to manage water sustainably, you should establish water taking fees at a rate that covers these costs.

Finally, your Ministry must take action to reduce plastic pollution and the cost associated with disposing/recycling plastic bottles. I understand that plastic pollution is outside the scope of revising water taking rules, but it is short-sighted to have any discussion of revising the rules for bottled water without also reviewing ways to eliminate plastic pollution.

Minister, now is the time to do the right thing for the people of Ontario. Put people and public water first. We want our water protected. And we deserve stronger rules than the ones you have proposed.

Sincerely,

Mike Schreiner
Leader, GPO

Support stronger protections on our water by sending a letter to the Minister here.