Tag Archives: Environment

Garlic Mustard poses a threat to the Grand River Watershed

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

People out for their daily walks in the Waterloo Region may have noticed a tall plant with the clusters of white flowers. It’s the garlic mustard plant — and it’s invasive, destructive, and spreading.

Garlic mustard may not be the most egregious of the invasive species, but it is the most widespread. The plant spreads quickly through seed dispersal  and dense stands of garlic mustard can produce more than 60,000 seeds per square meter and can double in size every four years.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week runs from May 12th to the 18th to encourage Canadians to take action to stop the spread of invasive species.

Ron Wu Winter of the Grand River Conservation Authority describes Garlic mustard’s spread, the challenges it poses for removal and control, and its ability to release chemicals that inhibit the growth of native plants.

CKMS News -2024-05-08- Waterloo mayor McCabe delivers “State of the City” address

2024-05-08- Mayor McCabe delivers Waterloo ‘State of the City’ address

by: dan kellar

Waterloo – Waterloo’s annual State of the City was delivered on May 2nd by mayor Dorthy McCabe at Wilfrid Laurier University, and was full of celebration of the current work the city is doing, and enthusiasm for the future.

The mayor focused significantly on the work the city is doing on housing, climate action, community building, infrastructure, service delivery, and affordability and she noted the interconnectedness of these topics throughout her speech. 

McCabe also celebrated the youth of the city and the students of the region’s high schools, post-secondary institutions throughout the speech, saying of the “council for the day” students “Waterloo’s future looks very very bright”.

The State of the City was organised by the Rotary Club of Waterloo and raised over 15,000$ for Supportive Housing of Waterloo, an organisation which helps people who have experienced long periods homelessness with housing and other support services.

Kitchener City Council approves $250 Million Plan for Net Zero Emissions by 2050

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

At its April 29 Council meeting, Kitchener City Council approved a $250 million capital grant over 25 years ($10 million per year) to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

This decision, part of the city’s second corporate climate action plan named Pivot Net Zero, aims to significantly reduce emissions primarily from city facilities and the city vehicular fleet. In an earlier show this week, CKMS spoke to city staff about these changes.

These goals come amidst various challenges including technological uncertainties and financial constraints. Despite these hurdles, the plan has garnered unanimous support from the council, emphasizing the need to set a positive example for the community and act urgently in the face of the climate emergency declared by the city in June 2019.

The plan aligns with the city’s broader strategic goals of cultivating a green city.

After a mild winter, get ready for a hot summer in the city

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

 

The weather last winter in Waterloo Region was mild and unstable, just as predicted. This variable weather is expected to continue into a hot, dry summer with potential serious repercussions on our community.

These predictions follow an unusual year of weather, complicated by global weather disturbances, including El Niño. According to the University of Waterloo weather station, the winter snowfall amount as of the end of March was at less than half of the average of the typical season.

Milder winter temperatures are causing other concerns as well. With the U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that in 2023 24, the ice cover on the Great Lakes reached a record low of less than 3 percent ice cover basin wide.

Dr. Annabella Bonata, research associate and manager of the Intact Center for Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo explains the dynamics responsible for our changing weather patterns, emphasizing the potential consequences and highlighting the need for adaptation.

The rise of ticks and lyme disease in Waterloo Region

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

 

In 2023, the Ontario government designated Lyme disease a disease of public health significance.

Lyme disease, a combination of skin rashes, fevers, headaches, and fatigue, is contracted from black legged ticks, and if left untreated, can escalate to affect joints, the heart, and nervous system.

Statistics from Public Health Ontario showcase an increase of 300 new Lyme disease cases across the province, From 1, 490 in 2022 to 1, 795 in 2023.  In Waterloo Region, the 2003 data has not been released yet, but by looking at earlier years, a clear upward trend is evident, from 13 cases in 2021 to 22 cases in 2022.

ETick.ca is an online platform where people voluntarily report tick sightings in the environment or when found on humans or animals. Comparing the first three months of 2023 to 2024 shows there has been a threefold increase in blacklegged tick reports for KW on eTick.ca.

The Region of Waterloo’s Public Health Manager for Vector-borne Diseases is Rebecca Piovesan, and she talked to CKMS News about lyme disease  and back-legged ticks.

In addition to resources above:

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association,

 The Ontario government page on Lyme disease and tick removal.

 

 

CKMS News -2024-01-25- Conservation land donation road blocked by a parking lot.

CKMS News – 2024-01-25 – Conservation land donation road blocked by a parking lot

by: dan kellar
A 235 acre donation of farmland and forest in Wilmot to the rare Charitable Research Reserve is on hold over a parking lot. The Schneider family has been working on the donation since 2020 and has now reached out to regional residents to pressure township politicians to finalise the deal.

The land sits on Waterloo’s border and the family has allowed light recreational use of the forest for decades, with some trail users parking along nearby roads. Now, citing safety and liability concerns, the township is requesting a parking lot be built to accommodate future land use. However, project proponents say the request will damage sensitive areas while burdening the charity with added maintenance costs.

This show features an interview with Dr. Stephanie Sobek-Swant, the executive director of rare, along with a quote from the Schneider family’s statement, and the short comment a township representative made to CKMS News.

Birds of prey numbers fall in recent Christmas bird count

The 2023 Christmas Bird Count in Kitchener recorded a decreased number of birds of prey, such as american kestrels and rough legged hawks, compared to previous years, according to Ethan Gosnell, the local coordinator for the international project.

The Christmas Bird Count takes place across North America, allowing for tracking of winter bird populations and distributions. It is organized by Audubon in the USA, and the in Canada by Birds Canada. In 2023, the Christmas Bird Count marked its 90th year in Waterloo Region.

Ethan discussed the rising numbers of some more typical summer birds in the Christmas count, in particular, the green winged teal, and what happens to these warmer weather birds when the seasonal freezing weather sets in.

CKMS News -2023-10-27- Delegates tell council to reaffirm the Regional Official Plan in response to Ford’s policy reversal.

CKMS News 2023-10-27-Reaffirming The Regional Plan

by: dan kellar

During presentations on October 25th to Waterloo Regional Council, 2 delegates asked the council to respond to the Ontario government’s reversal of the forced expansion of the region’s urban boundaries by reaffirming their commitment to the 2022 Regional Official Plan and by informing the Government that no changes will be identified.  

In today’s show, we hear excerpts from the delegations of Sam Nabi, the director of  Hold the Line Waterloo Region, and Kevin Thomason of the Grand River Environmental Network to the regional council, along with responses from councilors Rob Deutschmann and Dorothy McCabe. 

These delegations were in response to the October 23rd announcement from the  Ontario minister of municipal affairs and housing, Paul Calandra, that affected municipalities had 45 days to respond to his government’s policy reversal.

Before we get into those presentations, here is a bit of background on the situation.

On October 23rd Ontario’s minister of municipal affairs and housing Paul Calandra announced the reversal of his government’s plans which would have forced the extension of the urban boundaries of 12 Ontario municipalities.  In the case of Waterloo Region, this reversal could be accompanied by a return to the 2022 Regional Official Plan which was the product of an extensive public consultation and negotiation. 

This recent flip-flop by the PC government, follows the reversal of the Greenbelt development plans which received widespread condemnation, was the catalyst of province-wide protests, and is also the focus of an RCMP investigation.  

In April 2023, Ford’s Progressive Conservative government upended the plans of many municipalities by overturning their urban boundary and development plans, forcing municipalities to start new processes to approve previously protected land, for new urban sprawl. 

At the time of the original upending of the region’s official plan, local grassroots organisation Hold the Line WR were adamant the Region needed to fight back against the conservative government’s plans. Now, Sam Nabi, the director of the group, and Kevin Thomason of GREN are asking the regional council to reaffirm their commitment to the 2022 Regional Official Plan and to tell Minister Calandra, within his 45 day limit, that there will be no changes identified.

 

Requiem for the ash tree

By MP Holmes
Kitchener

Ash trees might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about climate change, but since the arrival of an invasive beetle, untold environmental and economic damage has led to the species to the edge of extinction. CKMS News talked to Josh Shea, the manager of Forestry and Natural Area Management at the city of Kitchener to find out what is happening to the ash tree generally and the  city of Kitchener’s approach to the infestation. 

In less than 15 years, the invasive emerald ash borer, has destroyed the ash trees in Kitchener, Waterloo Region, much of Ontario, including as far north as Sudbury, and in 36 US states. This tiny beetle has become a major environmental and economic problem. In a bid to control and starve out the emerald ash borer, the city of Kitchener has removed more than 5,000 trees from city streets and parks. There are about 600 ash trees remaining, some of which are alive, but all will be removed within the next few years. The Grand River Conservation Authority’s website reports that they have removed over 16,000 ash trees at the cost of three million dollars. 

Economic estimates keep growing as the beetle and the trouble it presents become clearer. In 2014, the city of Kitchener estimated dealing with the damage and making the city borer-free would cost $11 million. In July 2019, the Invasive Species Centre found that, on average, Ontario municipalities spend approximately $22,426,763 million each year combating the emerald ash borer alone. 

The conversation touches on the use and role of pesticides, the role of winter and the impact of milder less severe winters in the life cycle of the emerald ash borer. While municipalities fight this small beetle, the province under Doug Ford’s government, has done little to combat this invasive species, putting our forests, economic health, and our municipalities at risk. 

 

The music on today’s show is called “Maple Music” by Godmode courtesy of by Expectantly Maple Music on YouTube. 

This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, Heritage Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of  this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news., and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca