The municipal level of government is virtually ignored by most citizens – if the low participation rate (44%) is any indication – yet it has a significant impact on our quality of life. Municipal councils have important responsibilities that affect not only our daily lives, health and well-being, but also our resilience in the face of climate change and the impact it has on each and every one of us.
Floods and storms that destroy or damage our homes and infrastructure, smog and heat islands that threaten our health, droughts that reduce the amount of water available to people and crops: our cities and towns often find themselves the first to have to react to the fallout from the climate and environmental crisis.
A direct impact on our daily lives and our future
The power that municipalities have is broader than that of “simply” managing garbage collection and clearing the streets in the winter.
Whether we choose to travel to work, school or the grocery store by car, bus, walking or biking, we are all affected by the decisions made by our cities. Does your municipality encourage the adoption of low-emission, user-friendly and safe modes of transportation?
Do you have access to a compost bin or are you forced to throw your organic waste into the garbage? Municipalities can introduce measures to encourage waste reduction at the source and community sorting.
Our city councils also influence what ends up on our plates: from access to a public market or to neighbourhood stores that sell healthy local produce, to urban agriculture and community gardens.
They also have immense power over such areas as land-use planning—what the city, its architecture, will look like—the preservation of farm land and our food sovereignty, the protection of natural environments and biodiversity.
They are the ones who design our living environments: parks, green laneways and green neighbourhoods, and the natural spaces that are so essential to our well-being. Not just dog parks.
In short, the city plans what our community will look like today and in the future.
Climate experts (such as the IPCC) and the UN are sounding the alarm: we must immediately and massively reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In Quebec, this means, among other things, electrifying our transportation, putting an end to urban sprawl, densifying our neighbourhoods, reducing the use of single-person cars, and changing our consumption habits, including our eating habits. The small gestures that we make as citizens will not be enough if they are not accompanied by ambitious policies and real action on the part of all decision-makers, in all sectors.
This does not mean reducing GHGs simply for the sake of achieving a target; no, it is about improving our health, the quality of our air, our quality of life, our well-being, our safety, and our community life. It seems obvious that the effort is well worth it! Failure to act would result in much greater loss and grief.
A crucial election
Next November 7th , Quebec voters will be called upon to choose the representatives of 1,108 Quebec municipalities who will make decisions that determine the future of their communities for the next four years, the effects of which will be felt for many years.
In order to help the public make informed choices when it comes to election time we, the citizens of Ormstown, are attempting to organize a virtual, non-partisan citizen’s assembly on environmental issues and the vision for the future of our municipality, to allow voters to hear the concrete proposals that our candidates intend to implement in order to address the climate emergency. Philippe Besombes, Christine McAleer, Kenneth Dolphin, Tom Vandor, Pierre Bohemen, Jacques Guilbault, Francis Brissette, Lucille Morin, Stephen Ovans, Jonathan Allen, Eric Boudreau, Suzanne Hutchinson, Kimberly Barrington, Alice Loney, Mark-Olivier Soucy, Shane Beauchamps et Chantale Laroche, we hope you will respond to this invitation.
Alain M. Gaulin – Citoyens pour un développement responsable dans le HSL