Unity needed to reduce carbon footprint – Letter To Editor

Unity needed to reduce carbon footprint

Updated 3 hours ago


Sarnia Observer

Sir: There are many simple changes we can all make to reduce our carbon footprint and enhance our quality of life. For example, if Canadians avoided idling our cars for just five minutes a day, we would prevent one million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year. In addition, we would be spared breathing in many other toxic pollutants and we would save money by using less gas. It’s a no-brainer.

A reasonable question to ask, therefore, would be why is there only one “do not idle” sign erected by the city and why is it in the city hall parking lot? Are we to conclude that the health of those who work at city hall is more important than those who work, for example, at drive-thru businesses?

The irony of this situation was evident at the June council meeting when Coun. Anne Marie Gillis unsuccessfully managed to persuade council to impose a moratorium on future proposals for drivethrus. The motion was dismissed without any meaningful debate on the same night that council reiterated its support for a multi-million dollar widening of Highway 402 without requiring a full environmental assessment.

Compare our municipal leadership to that of Sudbury, a northern Ontario city that, like Sarnia, has struggled with its reputation for pollution and environmental devastation.

Today, the jokes about the Sudbury “moonscape” are history. In the last 35 years, the people of Sudbury have turned their city into one to be proud of and have achieved an international reputation for civic and environmental excellence.

Sudbury’s civic leaders formed a unique partnership of business and labour, various local organizations, academics and ordinary citizens to chart a future that would lead to a transformed environment, create a healthier community and a stronger economy.

Today, Sudbury has 15 million new trees, enacted many initiatives to improve and protect the land, air and water, retrofitted buildings to be energy efficient and even convinced 87 per cent of Sudburians that idling their vehicles is not a good thing to do.

The “greening” of Sudbury is much more than an environmental success story. It has led to a much improved local economy, improved real estate values, improved civic pride and brought many more visitors to the city. Sudbury has become a city that citizens are now proud to call “home” and I suspect that many of the graduates from the new medical school will want to practise medicine in the city where they studied.

Sudbury’s success did not just happen — it was a result of vision and leadership. If you compare the websites of Sudbury and Sarnia, you can tell which city is poised to take its citizens confidently into the future.

Good things are starting to happen in Sarnia, too, but as long as Coun. Gillis and Mayor Bradley are outnumbered by those on council who want to continue to invest in air pollution, will we ever be able to create a vision for a sustainable future?

Allan McKeown

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