Ontario Chapter

At Sierra Club Ontario, our work mainly focuses on protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem, growing and protecting the Greenbelt, and promoting Green Energy adoption in Ontario. Sierra Club Ontario also works on very local issues, in coordination with smaller communities in Ontario.

Indigenous & Environmental Groups Call for Moratorium on Mining Development in Ring of Fire

Sierra Club Canada Foundation has joined Indigenous and environmental groups in requesting a moratorium on a mining development in Ontario's "Ring of Fire". As it stands, the region’s wetlands and watersheds are not protected under this development and local communities, both upstream and downstream, are in need of access to clean water, housing and other health services.

How’s the air you’re breathing today? The BreatheEasy project can help you find out.

By Jake Cole and Lucy Bain. 

According to Health Canada, some 14,600 premature deaths across the country are caused annually by air pollution. In Ottawa alone, approximately 500 deaths are deemed pollution-related each year. Yet, the topic of air quality (AQ) and its impacts are rarely discussed. It remains a silent killer.

That Nice Smell of Wood Smoke in The Air - Maybe It's Not So Nice

If you've walked around a neighbourhood when people have their fireplaces going, you've probably noticed that woodsy scent wafting through the air. Some would even find that a soothing, pleasant smell. You may be surprised to learn that the smoke from a wood stove, a wood burning fireplace, or an open campfire, is not at all good for you. In fact, in some countries, like the U.K., wood-burning produces more than double the air pollution that results from traffic exhaust.

Air pollution drama at my home

So there I was on that sunny summer afternoon, just getting started with our Sierra Club Canada project, “Breathe Easy,” to measure air pollution all across Ottawa. I was working from home, all the windows open, when suddenly there's a cacophony of clattering noise starting up somewhere in the neighbourhood and a real stinky smell wafting into the yard and in through my windows. I investigate to find that a local hedge trimming company has unleashed a team of three ardent cutters on my adjacent neighbour's back yard. I close up all my windows and whip over to see what's going on.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) under Assault

So far unreported in the press, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has been under assault by the Ford government. This situation is especially tragic given the historic significance of its role in environmental protection. The MNRF has evolved to become the guardian of bio-diversity in Ontario.

Evolving out of the Department of Lands and Forests, MNRF, has been characterized by its conservationist use of science. The department’s work evolved from its Forest Protection Branch created in 1911 by the then-Chief Forester of Ontario, Edmund Zavitz.

Victories in Freele Tract and Carruthers Creek Headwaters Show Power of Citizen Engagement in Land Use Planning

Although the government of Premier Douglas Ford is no Valhalla for environmental protection, two recent decisions in rejecting municipally supported requests for Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZO) show that engaged citizens can wrest positive victories. One MZO request, by the County of Simcoe, would have put a waste transfer station in the 207-acre part of Simcoe County Forest, designated as the Freele Tract. The second by the Town of Pickering, supported by a developer, supported the urbanization of the headwaters of Carruthers Creek.

Great Healing Forests and Water

Urgent update: Since the discovery of the expansion of the range of the dense blazing star, a new threat has emerged to their survival. Without any reporting of their expansion or of the extent of the destruction in February 2020 to the adjacent habitat of a rare orchid, the Great Plains ladies' tresses, Niagara Falls is going ahead with a Public Meeting on Tuesday, October 6, 2020. Due to COVID the meeting is virtual. You MUST get your comments submitted before the 6th. City Council could proceed to authorize their destruction, subject to an appeal to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal.

Ajax and Durham Councils Support Protection of Carruthers Creek Headwaters

July 29, 2020, an important victory was won for the protection of the headwaters of Carruthers Creek. The Durham Regional Council, acting in response to an earlier motion by the Town of Ajax, and many residents, opposed a request by the City of Pickering to urbanize these lands through the imposition of a Ministerial Zoning Order. (MZO)

Two Reviews Show Why Both Environmental Assessment and Conservation Authority Acts Should Be Left Alone

The Mohawk elder Danny Beaton (Turtle Clan) speaks on the threat posed by two environmental reviews in Ontario.
He warns,

“How many books have to be written about environmental protection or films made by David Suzuki, Ed Burtynsky, or Jacques Cousteau, before we create another environmental crisis? How many environmental disasters — Katrina, Bangladesh? How many mega projects do we need? There is an Earth crisis still unfolding from killing wild animals in China.

Plastic Free July Wrap Up - What’s Next?

As July has come to an end, I want to thank everyone who joined Sierra Club and thousands across the Great Lakes, for the Plastic Free July Challenge. We had a great month administering the challenge and I hope those who participated enjoyed it.

Thirty-one days of refusing, reducing and reusing. Thirty-one days of activities and action against plastic pollution in Canada.

Waverly Beach Birthplace of American Civil Rights Movement

The explosion of the movement for racial equality recently brings into highlight a threatened old growth forest called Waverly Beach, in Fort Erie, Ontario. Its sacred groves in 1905, earlier a home for refugees from slavery, became the birth place of the Niagara Movement. It was a forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP).

Opposition to Ring of Fire Increases

As revelations mount about problems with mercury contamination from the now closed De Beers Victor Diamond Mine in Attawapiskat, opposition to proposed Ring of Fire mining projects soar. Claims by the Wildlands League that the company did not release the monitoring results for mercury contamination at 5 of 9 monitoring wells, received a boost on January 13, 2020, when Justice David A. Thomas ruled that these claims of violation of Ontario environmental laws could proceed to trial.

Proposed Amendment 1: The Latest Strategy to Gut Provincial Planning

Although inconspicuously described as “Amendment Number I to the Ontario Growth Plan”, its impact if approved would be catastrophic. Amendment No. 1, would neuter the thrust of provincially directed land use planning, since it began to have an impact in a document entitled “Design for Development” (1966). It was also described as the Toronto Centred Region Plan.

OPP Makes Its Mind Up Too Soon

The Ontario Provincial Police investigation into the hiring of Carmen D’Angelo as Chief Executive Officer (CAO) of the Niagara Region has taken a new direction. Now that the former CAO and the Regional Councillors who supported him are in the clear, the OPP is pursuing a new target. The new target is Bonnie Lysyk, the Auditor General of Ontario.

Take the Plastic Free July Challenge!

By Dr. Lino Grima
Chair, Ontario Chapter

We all know how big a problem plastic pollution is – and it has not gone away while we’ve been trying to stop the spread of COVID-19.

This is why we invite you to join the Plastic Free July Challenge, a series of activities and actions being organized by the Sierra Club Ontario and the Great Lakes Forums’ Plastic Pollution Team.

Reducing plastic pollution will generate savings for businesses, towns, and governments, and generate tens of thousands of new jobs in Canada - a great way to build back better after COVID.