JUNE 14, 2018

Mayor Bonnie Crombie to Chair Mayor’s Council on Nature and Communities 

The following is the statement Mayor Crombie made at the meeting of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Meeting in Ajax regarding the launch of a new Mayor’s Council on Nature and Communities

Thank you Mayor Cooper. Today I am very pleased to announce the Mayors’ Council on Nature and Communities. This Council will begin with Ontario mayors, and will expand to other parts of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Region.

The Council will use the mayors’ voice and influence to bring nature to communities and people in communities to nature.

Specifically, the Mayors’ Council on Nature and Communities will

  1. Support local efforts to protect habitat within municipal boundaries in a way that attracts people to spend time in nature close to home.
  2. Support regional efforts to restore habitat and migration paths in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence region through greater connectivity, and
  • Contribute to the national effort to protect 17% of land and freshwater under the Convention on Biodiversity.

Anyone who has camped or canoed in one of our magnificent provincial or national parks knows the calming effect of nature. It is the very best antidote to our fast paced, screen addicted lives.

But we can’t all run off to Algonquin Park or Killarney after work.

That is why we believe it is important to bring nature right into our communities, making it easily accessible any time and to all.

This can be done in any sized municipality, from Severn Sound near Tay Township on Georgian Bay, to Rondeau Bay near Lake Erie in Chatham-Kent, to Rouge National Urban Park adjacent to Toronto and Markham near Lake Ontario.

Natural areas also serve to make our communities more resilient to climate change, by creating sturdier tree canopy that cools us down and meadows and wetlands that  absorb runoff during intense storms.

But we don’t want to stop there. We are the mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, a huge geography with countless species calling it home. We want to help support the region’s rich and unique biodiversity by connecting our local conservation efforts to even bigger protected areas and to restore uninterrupted migratory pathways in the region.

Finally, we want to link these regional efforts to the national commitment to protect 17% of Canada’s land and inland waters under the UNESCO Convention on Biological Diversity. In a moment we will hear more about this national effort from the Member of Parliament for Ajax Mark Holland.

The Mayors Council is starting in Ontario, because we already have a firm foundation on which to build. Municipalities are already putting policies in place in their Official Plans to enact natural heritage strategies required under the provincial Planning Act.

In my own municipality of Mississauga, we have adopted a 20 year Natural Heritage and Urban Forestry strategy that will protect, enhance, restore and expand this natural spaces for generations to come.

I’m very excited to be working with some outstanding mayors on this Mayors Council, including (list and ask them to stand up) . Together we are going to bring nature to people and people to nature.

I’ll now ask Mark Holland, MP for Ajax to tell us about the national Convention on Biological Diversity target.