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The proposed Bradford Bypass highway is likely to degrade air quality in the Bradford area, impacting resident’s health.

Tell decision makers that your health is more important than the Premier’s developer buddies profits.

Traffic related air pollution (TRAP) is known to cause serious health impacts, including asthma, reduced lung function, childhood leukemia, and lung cancer in adults.

Ultra-fine particulate matter, (UFP) which has been poorly understood until recently, is increasingly a major concern, too, due to the ease with which they can be carried through the bloodstream and deposited into organs throughout the body.

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New research by SCGC shows a fuller picture of how building a highway near residential areas is likely to impact residents air quality. Studies by the Ministry only show a partial picture, missing impacts that TRAP may have on recreation, as well as using faulty or incomplete assumptions for future air quality modelling.

Learn more about those impacts here.

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Additional content related to the Bypass

Photo of a highway bridge. Credit Ajai Arif.

The Bradford Bypass – Clearing the Air

There are a lot of misconceptions, myths, and misunderstandings regarding the role that highways and cars play in our economy, and the impact they have on our environment and communities. Many of these are coming to the fore with the Bradford Bypass. Here we address some of them.

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Arial photo of the Holland Marsh, with Lake Simcoe in the distance. Credit Jeff Laidlaw.

Bradford Bypass

The provincial government is proposing a highway that would connect the 404 with the 400. The proposed route passes along the northern edge of Bradford, and through portions of the Holland Marsh.

Read More »

Community supported, advocacy for a safe and secure future.

Governments have failed to act to protect our communities and the futures of our children and grandchildren, and they continue to treat our environment as if it’s incidental to life, rather than a foundation for it.

We need strong community organizations to fight for our future, now more than ever.

Please consider donating to support our work. It’s people like you who make us possible.

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We send out a once-monthly newsletter full of information on what’s happening in Simcoe County and beyond, including information on how you can take action to protect the health of your community.

The Whale: Confessions of a “bad” climate activist

How judgment keeps the movement from thriving.

This is a cross-post from our Substack collab, The Whale. Five writers, each with unique and refreshing takes on environmental and social issues.

Read and subscribe to weekly posts here.

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We all see them—the posers. The ones who say they’re environmentally conscious, but then they do things like use disposable diapers and single use plastics, drive a pickup truck, feed their kids pre-packaged food, travel by plane, or live in a suburb.

Just like me.

I heard an audible gasp from some of you. The shock and disappointment that someone who is considered an environmental leader isn’t pure, isn’t living the way of environmentalism in every single moment. I know. Sigh.

Photo of eggs in a carton. A sad face is drawn on one and next to it a suspicious face looking sideways at the sad face is drawn on another. Photo by Nik on Unsplash

For many years, I had a lot of shame and guilt that I’m not one of those “good” environmentalists: vegan, beeswax wraps everything, never throws anything out, doesn’t travel by air, bikes more than anything else, you get the idea. For some of you reading this, you’ll still want me to feel shame and guilt.

For some of you, you may be eager to label me as an environmental hypocrite. I mean I’ve heard it all and frankly, it has kept me fearful that someday I’ll be exposed as this bad person, a fake. I guess I’ve decided to confess to free myself and hopefully the larger movement.

The environmental movement does itself no favours when we set up these criteria about who is pure enough to join the cause.

Drive a truck? Nope. Take a trip with family by plane? Not a chance. Eat red meat? Do you know how damaging that is?!? Use saran wrap. You know there’s beeswax wrappers now right?!?

But here’s the thing. Our systems are oppressive, distribute income unfairly, intentionally work against climate action and for the most part are inhumane.

My son came to me the other day asking how ethical is an electric car when we know most of the battery mining is done by exploited workers including children? The alternative, an internal combustion engine, poses another set of ethical problems. How do you make an ethical choice in an unethical market?

I’m done with environmentalism being this exclusive club that requires the highest level of self-sacrifice and privilege.

Another example is that caretaking tasks are generally assumed to be “women’s work” without much societal support.

I am my mother’s primary caregiver and her dementia means she lives with my family. Her decline means bathroom functions aren’t the same and require her to wear diapers. Where is the adult diaper service that comes to my house and provides clean reusable diapers for me to use? Oh we don’t have one? So disposable diapers have become my choice. I would love to make another choice, but I don’t have other options considering constraints.

My climate guilt each time I put out another bag of her diapers is immense. I used reusable for my kids, but now things are different including how tolerant our environmental community is of people making these types of choices.

Look, some of you may see this as an attempt to absolve myself from any guilt or responsibility. Maybe, partially, that is true. However, I work as hard as anyone on collective climate action at the local and provincial level. I have the battle scars to prove it. The work I do makes a difference. The choices I make are the best that I can considering the resources I have available to me. If people want to invalidate that because I should have been better, more pure, more committed, then so be it.

I’m done with environmentalism being this exclusive club that requires the highest level of self-sacrifice and privilege. We keep it this way at our peril. Our insistence that certain behaviours are “good” while others are “bad” and therefore invalidate the entire person (and their sense of belonging to a community that cares about our Earth) is so maddening.

We need an update to our community-building schema.

First, we are not fighting each other. We are fighting systems that keep us in status quo loops that are destroying our planet and our communities. If you think alienating your neighbour about how much they recycle is the best way to protect the planet, the data and science will clearly tell you should put your energy elsewhere.

Second, we are so beyond individual acts saving the day. Sure, do all you can, it will help, but we will still fall short. Besides, getting everyone to buy into these changes is such an inefficient way to combat climate change.

Real change requires policy change and societal shifts. To make policy changes and shifts, it is estimated that only 10-15% of a population needs to support it wholly with action. So what if, instead of focusing on 100% of people changing their behaviour (which will never happen in my opinion), we focused on bringing together communities and broadening our allies so that we can work together for just climate action.

What if we started right now in our communities to make climate friendly changes:more bike lanes, fewer highways, more community centres and shared spaces, more green, less grey, protected forests and so on?

That is collective action that can be done now that requires a small subset of the population to work together. It would build bridges and have a wide scale impact with people in our community—even ones we’re not connected to or ones that see climate change as an issue.

Photo of a man wearing a baseball cap, with the cap in focus and nearer the viewer. The cap has the words "Love your neighbour" on it. Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

However, that would mean we would have to lay down our self-righteous environmental sword and accept people as they are even if they commit environmental faux-pas. I would rather have 100 imperfect people who are helping on the ground than two people who are doing everything right. Fact is, there are way more imperfect people than perfect ones anyway.

I had a neighbour approach me sheepishly a couple of years ago. The composting program in our neighborhood just rolled out and she really didn’t understand what went in it or not, and as a result, she just didn’t compost for the longest time.

Then one day after getting to know me better, she decided that maybe I could help her. She was embarrassed, but she truly cares about our world and nature. So I went through it without judgment and without a lecture.

She assumed that I would be mad at her being such a “bad” person, but instead I just told her that we’re each on this journey and we’re all learning at different rates.

Now she’s probably one of the most dedicated composters out there and has taught other neighbours, who were equally reluctant, tips and tricks. My acceptance welcomed her into a space where she could find power to help others on behalf of our planet.

The more we focus on keeping climate action as a moral issue and judging each other as good or bad, the less likely environmentalism will feel like a place for people looking for answers to help our planet. They’ll turn to other communities to find belonging and not all of them will have our collective health at the forefront.

So to all my other “bad” climate activists out there, I see you and it’s all okay. Wherever you go, there you are.

For you environmental gatekeepers, I ask you to think if you’re really helping the cause by applying a puritanical lens to every person who doesn’t do it “right”.

We need to win the hearts and minds of people, so please have an open and compassionate heart with others who may just become a great ally like my neighbour.

Wherever you are in your climate concern journey is valid and at least for my part and that of SCGC, we welcome you regardless of how little you do or how much you do. All that matters to us is that you care and you want to make a difference now and for future generations.

About the Author

Picture of Margaret Prophet

Margaret Prophet

Margaret has a Bachelor of Education, specialized in Adult Education and a BA of Psychology from Brock University. She worked in the corporate education sector for 7 years at a Director level including as Director of Communications and Operations. In late 2015, Margaret and Sandy Agnew founded the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition with 15 like minded groups from across the region in support of an expanded Greenbelt.

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The debate around the carbon tax frequently misses its broader economic and environmental benefits. By effectively addressing the externality of carbon emissions, the carbon tax stands as a critical component of Canada’s strategy to combat climate change and promote sustainable growth. Clear communication and understanding of the policy’s benefits, including the progressive rebate program, are vital in navigating public concerns and fostering support for this essential environmental initiative.

Read More »

Community supported, advocacy for a safe and secure future.

Governments have failed to act to protect our communities and the futures of our children and grandchildren, and they continue to treat our environment as if it’s incidental to life, rather than a foundation for it.

We need strong community organizations to fight for our future, now more than ever.

Please consider donating to support our work. It’s people like you who make us possible.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

We send out a once-monthly newsletter full of information on what’s happening in Simcoe County and beyond, including information on how you can take action to protect the health of your community.

The Whale

What Would Roosevelt Think? (Who knows, he's dead.)

This is a cross-post from our new Substack letter, The Whale. For The Whale we have four writers who will be posting respective weeks. Posts will reflect their unique takes on all things environmental, be relatively short and sweet, and usually include links to further reading.

If you’d like to check it out you can find it here, or you can read on through this piece and towards the end there’s an option to subscribe.

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December 14, 2022 - Simcoe County

For all the current antagonism between Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party and environmentalists, you may be surprised to learn that both share roots more interwoven than is commonly known.

– A short essay on conservatism, conservationism, environmentalism and why all of the above are important. –

As a long-time student of nearly everything environmental (I did both my undergrad and graduate degrees in the environmental field) one of the first things I learned was that modern environmentalism has its roots in the conservation movement.

Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt.

A key figure of this movement was the 26th President of the United States, Theodor Roosevelt, a Republican, who, while a progressive on that side of the political spectrum, was, nevertheless, not a bleeding heart granola cruncher. (I love crunchy granola, by the way. It’s the worst when it’s soft.) 

Roosevelt, in addition to being rich and a soldier and historian and a writer and a president, was also a naturalist. (The clothed sort as far as I know.) When he was eight he obtained a seal’s skull that washed up in New York, and over the years he gained additional disparate specimens, with which he created what became, in 1867, the Roosevelt Museum of Natural History.

There’s a spark of curiosity at play here, an inquisitiveness that drove him to broaden and deepen his understanding of the natural world. This openness to creating new ways of understanding and engaging with the world led to the creation of the U.S. national parks system, the first of its kind in the world.

Photo by Ansel Adams, titled The Teton Range and the Snake River.

Protecting these parks required a process, of course, a method of determining which lands should be protected and the form that protection should take. This process, the identification of something valuable and worthy of protection, is, or at least was, pretty central to conservatism. There is some degree of effort involved with maintaining something over time, after all (everything decays in time, weather worn pyramids and allusion to Ozymandias here) and so the process of deciding whether the value of doing so is worth it is important.

One can quibble, I suppose, about the different types of conservatism, whether traditional or fiscal or social or some other slice of the pie, but the central premise of each is the same as what’s outlined above, that determination of something which it is desirable to maintain, to hold on to and preserve.

For the traditional conservative this may be practices that characterize their culture; for the fiscal conservative it’s likely to be keeping spending low…for Roosevelt his conservatism was exemplified, at least in good part, by his belief that places like Yellowstone National Park are worth keeping.

A detailed pictorial map of Yellowstone National Park, by Henry Wellge.

But here’s the kicker, the good is deemed worthy of protecting based upon some degree of knowledge of it, an understanding of the utility and value of it. At least, it seems to me, it should be based on such.

Conservatism, according to this, is rooted in identifying things that are believed to be important and then, accordingly, the protection or preservation of those things. 

The way that the identification of what is important happens is crucial. It’s the fond to the pan sauce, to borrow something a better chef than me might say. Using a faulty process for this or simply basing it on one’s opinion, which may not be shared by others, is bound to wind up in tension and disagreement. (We’ve all got some weird ideas that set us apart, right? I like to listen to jazz when I’m making dinner but my wife and kids will have nothing to do with it.)

So, the point I’m making is that the process is important in determining the quality of the outcome. And, the quality of the process rests upon the accuracy of the information it uses. Bad information and you wind up with an error riddled outcome – the Windows Vista of reasoning.

To bring this all back to environmentalism, the way we navigate our world as a species is a process of information gathering, analysis, and consequent action. Environmentalism extends this process to the natural world because it is the most basic building block of life, including what we require for our survival as a species.

But the processes we use to determine what to protect and conserve are being broken. Environmental regulations are being cast aside or seen as simply perfunctory. Ecological systems, which are fundamentally interconnected (think of the organs within the body and how they work together to create a greater whole) are seen as dumb components that can be swapped out and replaced. Nature, in other words, is seen as a sort of technology.

The sad irony of this is that, in this province at least, much of the hammer swinging is being done by those who claim the mantle of conservatism, by those who, given the roots of the political ideology they appeal to votes from, should be deeply concerned with identifying that which is valuable for us as a society to hold on to.

There is the old saying, though, that I think indicates what’s happened, and is happening, here in Ontario. Ours is a government that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. When all you want is power for the sake of power you have no compass any longer. You shift your values to align with whatever you think will get you what you want. That isn’t conservatism, it’s greed and opportunism.

About the Author

Picture of Adam Ballah

Adam Ballah

Adam has worked with SCGC since, almost, its conception. He holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies from York University, and is deeply interested (and concerned) with intersections between risk, vulnerability, and security when it comes to climate impacts.

Related Content

This illustration image of Poilievre combines a frame from a now notorious engagement where he belittled a journalist while eating an apple, with a photo of a forest fire added as a backdrop, in place of the orchard.

Issue In Brief: Understanding the Carbon Tax

The debate around the carbon tax frequently misses its broader economic and environmental benefits. By effectively addressing the externality of carbon emissions, the carbon tax stands as a critical component of Canada’s strategy to combat climate change and promote sustainable growth. Clear communication and understanding of the policy’s benefits, including the progressive rebate program, are vital in navigating public concerns and fostering support for this essential environmental initiative.

Read More »

Community supported, advocacy for a safe and secure future.

Governments have failed to act to protect our communities and the futures of our children and grandchildren, and they continue to treat our environment as if it’s incidental to life, rather than a foundation for it.

We need strong community organizations to fight for our future, now more than ever.

Please consider donating to support our work. It’s people like you who make us possible.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

We send out a once-monthly newsletter full of information on what’s happening in Simcoe County and beyond, including information on how you can take action to protect the health of your community.

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Friends. Online censorship by unaccountable tech companies, combined with an all-out assault on the Greenbelt by Ontario’s developers/government, make this a perilous time for the future of democracy and the power of the people in Ontario.

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