Pam is very concerned and acts to preserve the health of our rural areas from lakes and wetlands, to farms and settlement areas and local businesses. We need balanced development! Pam started the Climate Action Committee in Minden Hills, leading to the designation of a County Committee, along with volunteers from the community. She continues to assure ongoing work at the County level through the County Climate Change Committee.
Pam’s dedication to environmental activism is reflected in her role in the 1990’s United Nations Commission on Environment and Development Conference in Brazil; her raising awareness of the affects of chemicals and pesticides in our everyday environment; her enjoyment of the natural environment and all the life it supports.
Shore Line Preservation
The County Council recently passed the Shore Line Preservation By-Law to take effect in April of 2023. This is an important step in assuring the health and water quality of our lakes are protected. We are very privileged to have the water quality and abundance of water we presently enjoy that supports our everyday existence. We almost just take it for granted. We are a fortunate community not to have experienced shortages of potable water or pollutants in our water systems that restrict our enjoyment of nature. Water quality is about life itself, our own living beings.
The Shoreline Preservation bylaw is not a human rights issue. Or is it? The right to live in harmony with the environment is a human necessity. Our industrialized culture would have us think that we can overcome our dependence on the natural environment. We are culturalized into man-made environments. In our everyday practices, we have lost sight of our interdependence with the health of our air, water, plants, micro-organisms, and more. We leave our man-made environments to experience the beauty of nature. Then we try to gradually change nature into the environment that we left to be here. Where is the common sense in that?
The Shore Line Preservation By-law went through an intense process, encouraged through public consultations, over several years. It will never be perfect. It will continue to be central to our discussions of how we live with nature. We are not separate from nature.
We live in a complex web of interdependence on this earth. We experience, but do not see environmental destruction around us every day. By way of example, think of all those isles of toxic cleaners in the grocery store (bleaches, bacteria killers, bug killers, and more). Do we think, I am going to buy this and put it in my life supporting water? But that is where it eventually goes. Our human common sense has gone astray.
The long and well-thought-through by-law on Shoreline Preservation represents a democratic process. This process was entered into under the rights and freedoms of our local democracy. Is it perfect? Heck no. Is it important to our human preservation? Heck yes.
I am a waterfront property owner. – It is not about individual rights. – It is about our collective responsibilities. – When our lakes are increasingly ill, we are all in trouble.
Rural Labour Force
Rural communities require support to encourage local professional development and attract a labour force for long term care, paramedics, public works, Doctors, planning and building inspections.
Housing! Housing needs to be understood as a verb, not a noun. Housing is not a stagnant commodity. Our housing needs are changing, our population is changing. All income levels are experiencing a lack of housing options. Homelessness is increasing regardless of age, income, and family status.
Like Municipalities across Ontario, we face a shortage of qualified Building and Planning officials to meet the accelerating requirements related to growth. For example, in Toronto alone, they were recently short about 75 inspectors.
We as a Council need to be proactive in approving minor zoning by-law amendments that will allow more housing in our settlement areas. We also need to support and advocate for innovative housing proposals suggested by community members. We need Provincial support to assure our local by-law enforcement is effective not delayed in appeals or overturned. This is critical in supporting healthy and safe housing and communities.
At ROMA, of which I am a Board member, we undertook a research project to determine rural solutions. We identified ways that the Provincial government could reduce “red tape” to speed up the supply of housing. We proposed needed changes in legislation that would promote different types of housing and redefine “settlement” areas to meet rural development models. Housing must be attainable. See the ROMA Attainable Housing research paper (ROMA.ca).
Access to the internet, which is also affordable, has become a necessity, not an optional service. Access to government services, education, healthcare, and more, require good broadband connectivity. We need to assure services to everyone before increasing technology options to a few. This is an important advocacy role for local Councils as we also provide more points of public access.
Farming and Local Food Production
Pam supports and lobby’s for rural farming in Ontario at the local and Provincial level as a member of the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association (ROMA), representing Zone 5 which includes Haliburton County. She knows the value of our local farmers and producers! We have generational farms in Minden Hills, maple syrup production, garlic growers, beekeepers, small garden food producers, and more. Food security is not an issue that is frequently a topic in our Planning Dept. We need to give more attention to our food security.
There are 444 Municipalities in Ontario. Municipalities are determined by the Province. No matter what Party is in power provincially, it is likely that we are leaning towards reducing the number of Municipalities in Ontario over time. We have the opportunity to create a made-in-Haliburton governance model.
The four Municipalities along with Haliburton County are currently engaged in a service delivery review. We are exploring ways to more efficiently deliver services across our regions. This will lead to better purchasing power, reducing bureaucracy, and common By-laws among other improvements. Amalgamation in and of itself has not been proven to reduce the costs of government.
The question is, how do we maintain and promote local interests within a larger region and with fewer elected representatives? This is also a challenge regardless of the size of our region. Without knowledge of how democracy works, community conflicts are born of frustration. We can lose our sense of an inclusive community. Encouraging participatory democracy should be an ongoing role of all elected officials regardless of the size of their constituency.
Democracy is more than a vote for leadership at election time.