March 12, 2023
The 20th century saw value in the environment only when it was converted into money. In the 21st century, we know our natural environment is worth much more.
Hi neighbours - I am Laurie McCannell, from Vars. In 2010, Taggart Construction announced they wanted to put a dump in the Russell shale quarry, and I started learning:
· about environmental regulation in Ontario and Ottawa
· about industries who make money from environmental destruction
· and about how out of date our environmental laws really are
If you remember that Taggart Construction plans to put a 500 acre dump at Boundary Rd & Devine, then you aren’t surprised we are talking about this company again. Some are concerned the City just missed some paperwork with this tree cutting, or the company needs to hear the community’s concern. But it all has the familiar sound of regulation failing the values test.
Let’s look around. We are now told the city will allow more clear-cutting. Any tree still standing, remains only because someone hasn’t got around to removing it. Our “tree protection” bylaw has loopholes you can drive a logging truck through, and that’s not an accident.
This wetland area here is the headwaters for part of the South Nation River watershed. These waterways are now a mess of rough crossings and debris. If the city isn’t enforcing the drainage act, or fish habitat protection, or surface water supply protection, that’s no oversight.
Let’s take a deep breath, because in a few months we may not be able to. Clear-cutters are allowed to heap up forest left-overs and light them all on fire. I complained last summer about this 20th century style burning in Ottawa, but the City defends it, even while posturing about carbon emissions.
If a builder clear-cuts their well-advertised construction site BEFORE the Environmental Assessment, then provides a flim-flam “farming” excuse, that’s actually fine with the City of Ottawa.
If a builder brags their development will be “carbon neutral” meanwhile no one tracks the carbon impact of their brutal deforestation, that’s fine under the City of Ottawa’s 20th century rules.
People are concerned a company has broken the bylaws here – I’m concerned they have not! Construction companies hire experts on removing the natural environment, according to the rules. When there is a bad environmental outcome like this clear-cutting, it is not an accident. THIS is exactly what our 20th century environmental regulation is designed to achieve.
Economics and government and regulation can get complicated, but environment policy comes down to a simple choice of values:
Some still only see value converting our environment into money. Others of us know: our environment is worth so much more.
We need to create 21st century environmental laws, to go with 21st century environmental awareness. If we don’t, “fast-housing” builders will carry on under these swiss-cheese regulations, cutting what they want, sprawling where they want, and threatening anyone who might curb their profits. 21st century neighbours, if we know better, we can do better. But new laws will not enact themselves.