Bad Bill 66 – Beyond Schedule 10

There were cheers of victory in environmental enclaves across the province when the Ford government withdrew the odious Schedule 10 from its Open for Business Bill 66. Don’t celebrate too soon, fans of the Greenbelt. The government just threw us a crumb off their “cutting red tape” table.

Schedule 10 was the easy victory. Some would say a planned distraction. Get all of the environmentalists worked up about saving the Greenbelt, and maybe the rest of Ontario will ignore what we’re doing to Energy, Education, Employment, and the Economy in the rest of Bad Bill 66. Ah, those same little “cutting red tape” tricks that The Common Nonsense Revolution used in the days of Harris and Giorno.

Let’s take Schedule 3 as an example. Changes to the Education Act will be the next hot-button item. Parents of young children are already up in arms about rumours of increases to kindergarten class sizes and the possible elimination of junior and pre-kindergarten classes. Anyone who has ever taught early primary education will attest to the fact that this is a special calling in teaching. I have often lectured that early years teachers should be retired with Honours on triple pensions after ten years. The last thing needed is an increase in class size.

Or perhaps Schedule 4 featuring changes to the Energy Act with the old metering switch-a-roo, or Schedule 8 might be of interest for those about to enter Long Term Care arrangements, or maybe Schedule 9 if you’re in the construction trades.

No, “my friends”, to intone Doug Ford, there are many reasons to look beyond Schedule 10 and threats to the Greenbelt. Bill 66 is simply a Bad Bill and should have been rejected outright. A good friend and well respected local politician said to me recently, “But Bill 66 is just another planning tool; it gives us a seat at the table.”

I replied to this concept with a quote from an indigenous Elder, “We don’t want a seat at the table. We want our own table.” If your current MPP and municipal polliticians are saying Bill 66 gives municipalities another seat at the table, it’s time to declare that the meal on the table is tainted and the water is contaminated.

Thanks but no thanks.

The way I see it.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

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Naked no more

For years now, my favourite opening gambit for inviting a  prospect to an Interview was, “Meet you, 10:30 A.M., Naked,” It always worked as an intriguing hook.  But soon, there will be Naked no more in Caledon.

Yes, sadly, my favourite meeting place is closing and the wonderful and talented Svetlana is moving on to new chapters in her life.

I have met politicians, journalists, budding authors, neighbours and new friends over the years at Naked Café and loved every minute of it. Whether it be lessons in journalism from Hap, editing sessions with Max, neighbourhood gossip with Bob, ghost writing with Ruth, or meetings with random spirits, it was all wonderful.

One of my favourite memories  was recreating a “Coffee in Cars with Comedians” episode when one of my former students turned up in her Porsche to take me out for a local coffee. Of course we went to the Naked Café, We titled that story, “Coffee in Cars With Canoeists.”

And most recently, I walked in to Naked to protest the closing, and met Bonnie for the first time, She was just picking up her order to go. We started up a conversation over our shock at the closing, and now Bonnie and her long distance twin Clyde are literary confidents. It reminded me of that famous Leo Buscaglia story, where he gets on an elevator with a total stranger, says hello enthusiastically and gives him a big hug, “Do I know you?” asks the other man. “You do now!” answered the always ebullient Leo.

The Naked Café had a loyal following who enjoyed the friendly atmosphere, great fresh food, and specialized baked goods. Svetlana, you and your wonderful staff will truly be missed … but not forgotten.

So this week, I have booked it up – today Bonnie & Clyde, Wednesday Max, Thursday Bob, and Friday for a solo Turmeric latte. Next week, who knows what random intersections and conversations may occur. If you’re looking for a good story, I’ll meet you there … Naked at 10;30 …

***

For anyone who may have missed the sign on the door, Friday, January 31 is the last day to go Naked in Bolton.

 

 

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Bill 66 ahead, approach with Caution!

Caledon Open For Business Once upon a time, Ontario had a Greenbelt Act, and a Clean Water Act,  and a Planning Act, and a Lake Simcoe Protection Act.

Then the good citizens of Ontario, tired of the governments that had protected all this, voted in a new government. The Premier, who promised in his campaign to protect our Greenbelt, then declared: “Ontario is OPEN FOR BUSINESS!”

In a pointed Tweet recently, the comparison was made that, “Bill 66 is to wealthy developers in the Greenbelt like horse tranquilizer was for Bill Cosby.” In a gentler form, we are reminded of Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, where he wrote: “There is yet no ethic dealing with man’s relation to the land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like the Odysseus’ slave girls, is still property. The land relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.

Leopold wrote this in 1949 and The Sand County Almanac remains to this day a cornerstone of environmental studies and a poignant reminder of what it takes to truly become a conserver society. We have a white colonial masters’ attitude to the land, and the rape and pillage we have inflicted over five centuries in North America has not abated. We have yet to realize that we and the environment are one.

In an attempt at reconciliation, these days our municipal Councils give lip service thanks to the First Peoples whose lands we stole, breaking every treaty that we signed along the way west. Upon those lands this year in the Golden Horseshoe of Ontario, our elected officials will sit in Town Halls debating the pros and cons of Bill 66. The year is 2019. There should be NO DEBATE. You either fully protect the rights of the land and its beings with seven generation decisions, or you don’t.

In a recent interview Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence, stated, “The Ontario government is lying to its constituents about protecting the Greenbelt when Bill 66 clearly gives a secret process allowing municipalities to negotiate deals with developers without hope of appeal.”

You either fully protect the Greenbelt, the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere, and all watersheds originating therein or you don’t.

Recognize our history. When the colonial victors opened Upper Canada to immigration after the War of 1812, it took less than forty years for European settlers to deforest 80% of southern and eastern Ontario. 10.000 years of Great-Lakes St. Lawrence forest enriched  topsoil were depleted and eroded. The Great Lakes, the world’s largest source of fresh water, the gift of our last Ice Age, were polluted in less than 200 years because of deforestation, agricultural run-off and industrial waste.

We should learn from our history and try not to make the same mistakes. But we don’t, and the cost is always paid by the survivors. Our sacred protected spaces are not open for business.

Ronald Wright concluded in his brilliant A Short History of Progress, “If civilization is to survive, it must live on the interest, not the capital, of nature….Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up.

The Way I see it,

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

  • a full analysis of Bill 66 will follow. In the meantime, interested readers can go to the environmentaldefence.ca or ontarionature.org sites for a natural perspective on how to Stop Bill 66.

 

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