One of the major attractions to Peterborough and the region is the beautiful natural environment that we find ourselves in.
Gorgeous waterways, forested areas, and wetlands comprise the ecosystem of the region, and form a foundation for the community. Yet, the relationship that municipal government has with this pillar of Peterborough is complicated.
Sustainable Trent, volunteer-run student organization, was critical of the City. “The current city council has neglected to address environmental issues in the City by pushing forward projects without adequate environmental consideration and without long term thinking.”
In particular, the issue of urban sprawl and the planned subdivisions outside the current city limits raises hazard warnings. With Town Ward candidates concerned about the density of the downtown core, Sustainable Trent questions the need for suburban plans.
The integration of the Peterborough Sustainability Plan (PSP) could combat widespread systemic neglect of the environment. Documents such as the PSP are often accepted, but council fails to back their conclusions with proper zoning. City decisions should integrate environmental concerns into all actions.
The candidates for the upcoming municipal election must consider the environmental repercussions to council and city hall’s projects. Here is how mayoral candidates are preparing to tackle environmental issues:
Monsef’s campaign platform makes environmental considerations a focal point.
She states that existing infrastructure should be maintained before new projects be entertained. Specifically, she would like to see the funds allocated to the Parkway Corridor rerouted to maintenance of existing roadways, bike paths and walkways. Furthermore, Monsef would see that existing residential areas intensified in density before suburban development initiatives. Any building which is invested in would use best environmental and sustainable practices.
“What we need to hold in our minds is a lens of sustainability so that we do not create any unintended consequences,” said Monsef.
In an interview with Arthur, Wilson stressed his experience working with Quaker Oats in the environmental sector.
He would like to see a culture of environmental stewardship promoted in the city that shapes the way in which urban development proceeds. He would like to see more initiatives in green energy and alternative transportation.
Wilson promised that if any greenspace is taken for development projects, such as the Parkway Corridor, it should be fostered in other areas. He feels that there is not enough greenspace currently in the city. He proclaimed, “I will be a champion of environmental stewardship.”
Incumbent Mayoral Daryl Bennett stressed the gains that the city has made in his term, in an interview with Arthur. “We’re on top of what we need to do,” he said.
He stated that Peterborough leads the country for recycling initiatives, especially in diverting electronics from landfills.
While Bennett pushed the idea that the Parkway is a necessary infrastructure project for the city’s transportation needs, he also stated that current plans would see Jackson Park increase in size.
Peeters has repeatedly stated that City Council must make decisions that will result in a sustainable community for generations to come. Peeters knows firsthand the benefits of alternative transportation, as she does not currently own a car. She would like to see less invasive solutions to transportation issues which do not affect greenspace and existing parks.
Young, whose primary methods of transportation are walking or public transit, would like to see more attention go towards maintaining those infrastructures. Issues of sidewalk safety and transit are close to his heart. He would see City Hall’s priorities adjusted to accommodate alternative transportation strategies. “We should be focusing more on developing public transit and away from developing more roads,” said Young.
LeBlanc was, unfortunately, unavailable for comment. LeBlanc is a long-time resident of the Peterborough area. At a mayoral debate at Artspace, he spoke of harnessing eco-tourism to the region as a way for stimulating local development. He sees the river and the boaters as assets to the community, which can be harnessed for the city’s gain.
An All Candidates debate on ‘social issues’ (including: jobs, environment, housing, and social assistance) will be taking place on October 16 at 6:30pm at the Evinrude Centre. The evening will see candidates respond to moderated questions and then to questions from the audience.