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There's a growing belief that if left uncontrolled, Canada's expanding cities risk occupying too much space. One of the main voices of this line of thought belongs to Toronto's chief planner who advocates growth boundaries, such as Ontario's Greenbelt, to restrict urban expansion.
Justin Trudeau can present a Liberal party that is stridently progressive on environmental and social policy, and on human rights and multiculturalism, while maintaining a strong commitment to entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic growth.
After serving nine years as Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty has stunned the country by announcing his intention to step down as Liberal leader. Regardless of one's opinion of the man, he has arguably had a bigger impact on the province than many of his predecessors. There may be much to criticize in his record, but there is also much to laud. Now is a good time to evaluate some of his bigger legislative initiatives -- good and bad.
Most people understand the concept of financial capital. We pay for things we find valuable. But how much is our natural capital worth? According to the David Suzuki Foundation's research, the 7,000-square-kilometre Ontario Greenbelt provides at least $2.6 billion in non-market benefits each year. We wouldn't let a bank get away with losing our life savings. We shouldn't let decision-makers off the hook when they allow our natural wealth to be squandered.
Toronto's downtown has become an increasingly desirable place to live with a recent RBC-Pembina poll showing that 81 per cent would choose a smaller house if amenities such as shopping and mass transit were accessible by walking and if commutes to work were short. Are there any lessons here for New Brunswick?
We need a balance between ecology and economics, between the effects of the tar sands and the money it makes. However, this approach does not conform to the narrow and myopic world view of the Harper Conservatives. The Conservative majority rests on less than 40 per cent of the vote, yet for them this justifies demonizing and dismissing the other 60-plus per cent.
Global trends show a growing number of countries, agribusinesses and large corporations scanning the globe for land purchase. They are not ignoring Canada. If we continue to lose farmland for sprawl and foreign investment, we ignore our future food sovereignty.
The biggest bump in Greenbelt approval was on the topic of local food, which is becoming an increasing hot issue in Ontario. This is likely the reason we saw so much public mobilizing around the local food procurement vote in Toronto City Council, as well as the recent success of 'Foodstock.'
The mayor of Canada's largest city is in cost-cutting mode and a local food policy, originally passed in 2008, has just escaped the chopping block. Well almost. As many locavores will tell you, there is the price on the grocery receipt and there are the costs that we pay elsewhere -- the hospital bills, the environmental debt and the money farmers pay out of their own pockets to stay afloat.