A Greener Port Hope

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I’ve been asked my position on Port Hope and the environment. It’s a rich topic, that we have seen the effects of here in Port Hope.

Our amazing waterfront. What can we do to get more people enjoying it?

Recent severe weather, and the increase in such events in coming years, must be taken seriously. Flooding kept the town on its toes in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, we had unprecedented flooding during the spring melt that re-established the high-water mark in Lake Ontario and left paths and beaches severely damaged. This year, ice floes clogged the river’s exit leading to water creeping surprisingly close to town hall; the spectre of 1980 still looms large.

 

There are several things we can do to address this at the municipal level. Work has begun to market Port Hope as a green municipality following the PHAI clean-up. I think this is an excellent opportunity for Port Hope and support this direction, including:

  • Green energy installations to power public spaces.
  • Environmentally friendly design to the center pier walkways and infrastructure
  • Design features along the river to minimize human impact and protect the migrating fish.
  • Working with nearby educational institutions to put on educational and interactive displays or expo-style installations.

 

A greener strategic direction would help change how people think about our municipality but also in how we come together as a community. Local business examples like Olympus Burger’s recent green efforts are something I’d like to help others pursue. I can see programming such as:

  • Local businesses helping each other find green solutions that save money;
  • River- and waterfront cleanup aided by town hall messaging;
  • Educational walks in green spaces to help our community better appreciate outdoor spaces; and,
  • Green programming coordinating with the change in waste management in 2019 to help homeowners compost, and divert and reduce waste.

 

Keeping our river healthy and clean is key.

The town doesn’t have to be the experts on these matters either. I support initiatives that rely on our citizens’ knowledge base, such as:

  • Consultations with environmentally-minded groups to ensure that beaches and fragile waterways are developed so as to be practical, sustainable, and to minimize impact.
  • Linking the rural Ganaraska with our waterfront development to help people understand how waterways influence a community’s economy and ecology.
    • A fun way to do this that I’ve heard members of the HBIA and fellow candidate, Ian Everdell, discuss is to plant local crops in high-visibility locations throughout town as a way of increasing awareness of the local economy.
  • Having an open-door policy for environmental groups to meet with the town to discuss waste-reduction strategies.

In my view, stewardship of the environment — how we protect and use what we have — is a vital community-building opportunity. There are too many benefits from an environmental approach to ignore that will make Port Hope a better place.

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  • Michael Goldstein
    Reply

    How would your greener strategic direction respond to the devastation caused by the Penryn-Mason subdivision as well as Port Hope’s proposed Lakeshore Road reconstruction in which trees that do not have to be removed will be removed?

    • miles
      Reply

      Thank you for your question, Michael.

      Like many Port Hopers, I love the number of trees that keep our small town looking green, and adding shade and character to the town. (Incidentally, I’ve actually been in a documentary about the trees in Saskatoon where I did my undergrad!) And, like many residents here following the ice storm in 2014 and the windstorm two years ago, I’ve come to learn that many of the trees around town are unstable and in need of better care or are an invasive “weed tree” that is fast-growing but prone to damage and choking out more favorable options. Indeed, in those two storms we lost at least 5 mature trees (one endangered) from our property that took our back yard from full sun to full shade. It wasn’t until this loss that I began to learn about varieties of trees, their life cycle and their proper maintenance.

      I was pleased to learn while running for council that Port Hope has a tree committee, which is an excellent place to start in structuring a long-term plan for healthy trees and their planting including better regulations on species selection (e.g., selecting from hardy trees that resist storm and frost damage). The documentary I mention above highlighted a concerted effort on the part of one town planner to plant huge numbers of elm around Saskatoon — an effort which some years later resulted in the canopy that older Saskatoon is known for.

      For my part, I love trees and what they can do for a neighbourhood; and many of these green spaces in Port Hope has that deserve closer attention. On this last point is where I’ll get to your question. My understanding of the health of many of Port Hope’s trees is that they need attention. As I reference above, the town lost a great deal of trees in two close storms, and, I think this has resulted in many citizens being concerned for what we have left.

      The trees that we have deserved to be examined on at least two bases: 1)their lon-term viability, and 2)how they contribute to the sustainability of a greener Port Hope.

      In your question you ask about two recent events, the Penryn-Mason clearing near King’s Park and potential tree loss following an upgrade to Lakeshore. Let’s look at the massive clear first and then follow up with the second.

      I live near this area and was shocked to come up the hill one day to find a substantial portion of the Port Hope green spaces I love had been cleared out. This prompted me, when I met one of the Mason home developers to ask about the plan. I was pleased to find out that many of the trees in there were no longer safely growing (per my explanation above). Moreover, the developer explained to me that when the development is completed a large number of trees will be re-introduced into the area. We will be getting green space back. For my part, I still remain curious about what proportion and what kind, and, I think such concerns would do well to be raised with the tree committee for the town. Should I be elected, I’ll certainly be reviewing how we select for and against trees in the town. (I’d even like to offer that a pet project of mine is to look for new spaces to install tree paths around our town). This leads to your second question, and the second way we need to engage with tree selection.

      Your second issue was about Lakeshore development. I have been contacted by other citizens about safety issues on this road, and while I don’t know the specifics of the development, I can say that I agree with them that safety aspects along the Lakeshore corridor need to be addressed. In some cases, this may mean the removal of trees, as it sounds like you have already learned. Although I don’t know what the extent of the impact may be, I would be interested in learning whether there are trees that can be saved, and should they need to be removed, how we can invest in making sure that our policy provides guidelines for their replacement. For example, perhaps trees can be placed in closely situated lands or in another part of the town. If, as a result of our ongoing growth and development we lose trees in certain areas, I want to make sure we have a plan for maintaining the density of what we have with replacement programs.

      That is, while some trees may need to be removed from Port Hope, I hope that when it comes time for their removal we have carefully thought through why and how potential replacements can continue to grow Port Hope’s character and canopy.

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