• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Great News in time for Earth Day

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In AWARE News Network
Apr 25th, 2024
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Great news in time for Earth Day!

We’ve just received word that one of the world’s leading experts on fresh water issues has joined the opposition to TC Energy’s proposed pumped storage project in Meaford: Maude Barlow, co-founder and former chair of the Council of Canadians, who has served as a Senior Advisor for Water to the United Nations and now chairs the Washington-based Food and Water Watch.

“TC Energy’s proposed pumped storage operation is a monster of an idea,” Barlow says. “It could destroy the entire aquatic ecosystem of Georgian Bay and threaten the sanctity of a UNESCO World Biosphere. We in Canada have taken our fragile water heritage for granted and not properly cared for it. This dangerous plan puts a huge body of water at risk to provide energy that can more safely be supplied in other ways. It must be stopped!”

 

Maude Barlow

Barlow has spent decades campaigning to preserve this country’s—and the world’s—vital fresh water supply. She fought to keep it from being classed as another commercial commodity to be bargained off in free trade agreements and warned against its “corporate theft” by multi-national bottling companies. But the founder of the Blue Planet Project notes that Canadians often don’t understand the urgency of the issue. Thanks to our countless glaciers, rivers and the Great Lakes, which contain 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water, we can be lulled into what she calls “the myth of abundance”—the notion that our access to clean drinking water will never run out.

For Barlow, the key danger of TC Energy’s proposal is its reliance on the public waters of Georgian Bay: pumping 23 billion litres of that water up the Niagara Escarpment to its planned 375-acre reservoir every night when electricity rates are low, then releasing it in the day when demand, and rates, are high. If the company wins the long-term electricity contract it is seeking from the Ontario government, the profits from that 50-year process will go to the shareholders of the Alberta-based corporation. But provincial ratepayers will be left paying off the construction costs—projected to reach $7 billion—and facing the likely degradation of the fresh water resource of the bay for generations to come.

Barlow’s support comes at a pivotal time. On the one hand, Save Georgian Bay has been encouraged by the fact that four bay-area municipalities, from Parry Sound to Thornbury, have independently passed resolutions opposing TC Energy’s scheme in the last five months. On the other hand, we’ve discovered that the company—apparently caught off guard—has launched a blitz of those same councils, as well as dozens of others around the bay, demanding to make deputations and trying to persuade municipal staff and councillors it will “mitigate” any dangers that critics point out. In some cases, it promises economic prosperity and jobs.

One of the municipalities it is currently courting is Tiny Township, 80 kilometres east of Meaford, where Save Georgian Bay is making a deputation of its own on April 24th. Ironically, the township was the scene of another war over water more than 15 years ago when Simcoe County threatened to build a massive garbage dump over an aquifer formed by glacier ice that gave the area bragging rights to the purest spring water in the world. Among the environmentalists who helped kill the scheme: Maude Barlow, who showed up with a documentary camera crew to chronicle the battle.

Now Barlow’s opposition to TC Energy’s proposal should give us renewed determination. She has written more than a half-dozen books on the subject of water—from Blue Gold to Whose Water Is It Anyway?—but her latest title may offer the most encouragement: Still Hopeful, Lessons from a Lifetime of Activism.

It’s a reminder that activists can make a difference, one person at a time. In honour of Earth Day (April 22nd), let’s each reach out to a potential new supporter or spread the word about this looming threat to Georgian Bay.

You could even write to one of the politicians listed below (with email links) urging them not to put at risk the priceless fresh water of Georgian Bay.

Happy Earth Day!

 

Tom Buck for Save Georgian Bay
tbuck@savegeorgianbay.ca

Website: savegeorgianbay.ca
Facebook: Save Georgian Bay
Instagram: @savegeorgianbay
X: @SaveGeorgianBay

Let’s Save the Bay!

Please click below to donate to our Save the Bay campaign!

David Evans, Mayor for Tiny Township mayorevans@tiny.ca
Sean Miskimins, Deputy Mayor for Tiny Township deputymayormiskimins@tiny.ca
Dave Brunelle, Councillor for Tiny Township councillorbrunelle@tiny.ca
Kelly Peter Helowka, Councillor for Tiny Township councillorhelowka@tiny.ca
Steffen Walma, Councillor for Tiny Township councillorwalma@tiny.ca
Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) lesley.gallinger@ieso.ca
Rick Byers, MPP for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound rick.byers@pc.ola.org
Andrea Khanjin, Minister of Environment Andrea.Khanjinco@pc.ola.org
Todd Smith, Minister of Energy Todd.Smithco@pc.ola.org
Doug Ford, Premier doug.fordco@pc.ola.org
Alex Ruff, MP for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound alex.ruff@parl.gc.ca
Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment Steven.Guilbeault@parl.gc.ca
Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence bill.blair@parl.gc.ca
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca


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