Earth Day celebrations dampened by some concerns over proposed cuts
Published Monday, April 22, 2019 4:51PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 22, 2019 5:47PM EDT
Many Windsor-Essex residents participated in Earth Day, but environmentalists are concerned about proposed cuts by the provincial government.
John Thompson spent part of Monday cleaning up Gateway Park on University Avenue.
“I wanted to do something for the earth and get people together,” says Thompson, who also celebrated his birthday on Monday.
Another volunteer Amanda Huntley says it was a great place to start.
“It desperately needed something and so I wanted to see if we could get some people together and maybe make a little bit of a difference.
Their effort brought close to a hundred people, including city councillor Rino Bortolin and NDP MP Brian Masse.
Jonathan Choquette also showed up with his own group looking to preserve the snake population. Choquette is a conservation biologist with Wildlife Preservation Canada.
He reacted to a proposal by the Ontario PC government allowing developers to pay a fee instead of protecting species.
“Assuming that there is a landscape scale plan for recovering an endangered species then pooling resources to achieve a certain outcome could be a good thing,” says Choquette.
The provincial government is proposing to create the Species at Risk Conservation Trust to oversee these charges and put the money toward large-scale measures to protect and recover those species.
But Choquette wonders how much a hectare of land an endangered species is worth.
“What if you have 10 species at risk using a site?” says Choquette. “Is it worth more than if you only have one species? So it becomes quite tricky when you start to put a price on endangered species habitat.”
Residents of Drouillard Road showed how the space at Ford City community garden is environmentally friendly.
There was a tree planting held Monday and residents reaped the benefits of a thriving garden.
The Essex Region Conservation Authority also aims to protect residents in Windsor-Essex, but will have less money to do so.
“It’s right around $100,000 we learned last Friday of the cuts to our budget for the provincial component of our flood program,” says General Manager Richard Wyma.
The conservation authority normally receives about $200,000 a year to protect neighbourhoods from flooding and erosions.
“We have to find a way to keep doing it so we'll take a look at different programs and take a look at where we might find some efficiencies,” says Wyma. “We'll take a look at maybe some of our reserve programs to see if there's ways we can tackle some of that deficit.
The timing of the announcement comes at a time when six different flood notices or warnings were issued in the last two weeks across Windsor-Essex.