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The ACTivist magazine -
Nov. 28 2006 - Written by
Therese Gain Taylor
What's for dinner when we choose to build houses on our best GTA food lands? What will the next generation eat? That was the question repeatedly posed by members of Citizens for Ethical Civic Engagement (CECE) at an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing recently held in Brampton. To dramatize their appeal, a plate, fork, knife and a cement brick was submitted as evidence by environmental justice activist Steven Kaasgaard.
Protestors gathered inside the Brampton courthouse to express their opposition to plans that would bury Brampton's last remaining 6,000 acres of prime farmland, some of it Class 1, under more urban sprawl. This while a Decima Research poll shows nearly 90% of GTA residents support the goal of curbing urban sprawl and protecting area farmland.
Without farms nearby, how can we show our children where food comes from? Questioned Suzanne Cook a Brampton mother of two. Participant Marian Gain questioned the province's Places to Grow Act. Its vision is to protect what is valuable including prime farmland and to curb urban sprawl.
Are these words in a fancy brochure designed to lull us into a sense of complacency to trust that this commitment to us by politicians is in fact true? Gain asked.
Members of CECE pressed the point that the preservation of prime farmland is a food security issue. Access to locally grown food is vital now and for future generations, especially in light of climate change and dwindling oil supplies, they maintain.
Former Halton councilor Robert Heaton took the stand to say Europeans are asking Ontario's Environmental Commissioner about us and why we don't seem to get it.
With climate change and energy issues looming large, how can we consider burying our local food supply under more townhouses? challenged Therese Gain Taylor.
The founder of CECE, Gain Taylor was granted party status at a pre-hearing. She was the only party left challenging the settlement between the landowners, the Province, the Region of Peel, the City of Brampton, Brampton Brick and Sierra Club.
Planners called by the region and the city as expert witnesses admitted they had limited knowledge about climate change or peak oil issues.
How can planners plan for our future if they aren't even aware of current events? "We're inviting more mouths to the GTA, but how are we going to feed them?" asked Gain Taylor.
Chair J. Aker reserved his decision and stated that this was a major case. The OMB may take up to three months to rule on the amendments to official plans.
Therese Gain Taylor, Founder, CECE
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