Big Hearts, Helping Hands

I came across a popular quotation lately that really struck me: “Volunteers don’t necessarily have time, they just have heart”. That’s particularly true of several local organizations that typically rely on a small contingent of dedicated volunteers to keep the wheels turning.

If you have some heart, and a little time, Innisfil organizations would welcome you to fill a needed role. In particular, the Innisfil Arts, Culture & Heritage Council has extended the following invitation for new volunteers to fill some Board vacancies:

Innisfil Arts, Culture & Heritage Council

“On Monday, May 28th, the Innisfil Arts, Culture & Heritage Council will hold its Annual General Meeting and will vote in a new Board of Directors.

As such, we invite you to submit your expression of interest in serving on our Board of Directors or on one of our working Committees to:

pres@iachc.ca
treasurer@iachc.ca

The IACHC is excited about plans to expand the scope of its activities over the coming year and has several positions on the Board opening due to the completion of the current term of the incumbent. Executive positions that are coming available include:

  • Vice President
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer

as well as the following working committee Chair positions:

  • Membership Chair
  • Communications/Social Media Chair
  • Grants & Funding Chair

Currently, the Board meets monthly at the Town of Innisfil municipal building (2101 Innisfil Beach Road, Innisfil) but there is a possibility that this frequency will reduce to quarterly in the coming year. The Working Committees meet throughout the year on an as-needed basis, but typically no more than once per month.

We thank you for your interest in one or more of these opportunities and look forward to speaking with you directly.

New IACHC members are always welcome. Consider attending the Annual General Meeting on May 28.”

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The Culture of Horticulture

I’m going to pause here to help spread the word about the Innisfil Planters Festival being held in a couple of weeks at the Innisfil Arboretum, Saturday May 26, from 8:00 am to 1:30 pm. (Shore Acres Dr. at the 20th Sideroad)

This annual fund-raiser for the Innisfil Garden Club is partnered this year with the Innisfil Arts Culture and Heritage Council. I’m a member of both organizations and a dedicated gardener. So it seems like an excellent opportunity, especially for new residents and new gardeners to pick up some perennial plants, (we can never have too many!) discover the arboretum and enjoy getting outdoors after our too-long winter. If you have some gardening challenges, ask our Master Gardener for advice.

There will be beverages, a BBQ, and a bake table too, so plan to linger a bit to browse some displays and vendors. This year, we’re planning to have a garden tool sale and swap as well to encourage new gardeners to “dig in”. Donations of any used, but surplus, garden tools such as rakes, shovels, forks, spades, or shears would be welcomed – you can send a note here to ourinnisfil@nili.ca to arrange a drop-off or contact Marilyn at elliotmarilyn@yahoo.com.

Of course, members of the Innisfil Garden Club and the Innisfil Arts, Culture and Heritage Council (IACHC) look forward to meeting our Innisfil neighbours and invite you to consider joining these organizations.

Innisfil Planters Festival May26

 

 

Anger vs. Answers

So far, our provincial election campaign is a tiring affair already. The Conservative candidate, and presumptive premier, has been flinging outrage and empty slogans into the air. One of the more bizarre, and distressing pronouncements is that, “I don’t govern through the government”. Wow! It sounds like the radical right south of the border who want to gut their institutions. Has no one told Doug Ford that there is no “I” in government? Does he realize we still have a parliamentary democracy made up of elected representatives? – the “people” he is supposed to be listening to?

His idea to open a “big chunk” of the greenbelt to development revealed not only that he was woefully uninformed about this critical issue but also politically out of touch with the popular consensus. The fact that he modestly credited the idea to the “biggest developers in the country” marks him as a loose cannon and an easy mark for powerful lobbyists. Worse, his party establishment tried, initially, to back this off-the-cuff proposal showing that it is a hostage to his rambling ideas, not unlike a certain circus situation elsewhere.

Never mind that “opening” the greenbelt would accomplish nothing. A whole network of water and sewage pipes would have to be built first. And that would have to be paid for by you through your property tax, dear reader, as a resident of your municipality, long before any “affordable” housing was built in those pristine fields far from any amenities. The money is theoretically recovered later through development charges and the property taxes of new residents.

For decades Innisfil has wanted to build an industrial park west of hwy 400. An original plan proposed including hundreds of new houses and thousands of new residents to justify putting in the necessary pipes. The Places to Grow plan eliminated that sprawl option. The 50 or so businesses that would occupy an industrial park alone could not support the millions of dollars required to install services. Innisfil then approached developers about having them chip in up-front for the cost of services but they declined. So, an Innisfil industrial park remains a ‘pipe’ dream.

So, we’re back to raging at Ontario Hydro. Fire the bums! Replace the Board! Sure. But what’s the policy principle? Why not tackle all corporate greed? What’s good for Ontario Hydro is, I assume, good for the rest of them. We’re long on anger, short on answers.

Is it a good idea to cancel all future generating contracts? Will eliminating time-of-use metering help? Should we go all-in on renewable energy, or conservation? Should Hydro One be brought back into public ownership?

No one proposes lowering your taxes, but the conservative mantra is to lower corporate tax rate to create jobs. How’s that working? Canadian banks, for example, are flush with cash but what are they doing with it? “… the most likely use for the Big Six’s estimated combined $14 billion in excess capital will be share buybacks to appease investors disappointed with the performance of Canadian bank stocks versus their U.S. peers.” (Will Big 6 Banks Flush with Cash Buy US Banks?, April 16, 2018) So far, personal income tax provides 21.8% of provincial revenue while less than half of that, 10.6%, comes from corporations (2017).

If people are angry, it’s with the financial and political imbalance of power. People are fed up with corporations telling us what taxes they will pay (the least), what wages they will pay (the minimum), and where they will locate businesses (where governments buckle under). “People” have a right to organize their societies as they wish through their democratic governments. And we have some tough decisions to make.

The Future of Electricity

The cost of electricity is “lightening rod” for public anger and frustration in Ontario. It has become a political hot potato with political parties vying to promise lower electricity bills. Yet, regardless of any political promises, the electricity market is going to be dramatically changed in coming decades by evolving technological innovations and economics.

Ontario doesn’t have an abundance of cheap hydro-electric power like Quebec or Labrador. (Or cheap – and dirty – coal power like some US states) It’s questionable whether we would want to flood significant natural areas to create hydro power anyway. Renewable sources (wind, solar and water) make up 36% of Ontario’s total generating capacity. We have put our money on nuclear power as a carbon-free form of energy although it has significant environmental and financial risks as well.

Electricity prices are relatively high because Ontario has ended up with a substantial over capacity of generating resources. The average electricity demand is about half of total generating capacity – that still has to be paid for. Although nuclear generation is about 35% of total capacity, it supplies 65% of our electric demand. Wind and solar make up 13% of capacity but supply less than 7% of demand. And overall demand in Ontario dropped 4% in 2017.

About half, or more, of a typical residential bill consists of an added “Global Adjustment”. This is described as “a total dollar amount for each month based on the difference between market revenues and [a list of] components” (IESO website). The largest of those ‘components’ is related to nuclear power:

  • Nuclear (non-OPG) and natural gas
  • OPG regulated nuclear and hydro

Continue reading

Cap and Hide

The outcome of this year’s provincial election is worrying when the apparent campaign front-runner is basing his pitch on a bizarre distortion of the truth.

Doug Ford says he will abolish the “carbon tax” although we don’t actually have one. In an ideological twist, the Ontario Liberals enacted a market-driven cap and trade system while the suddenly-gone Conservative leader had pledged to introduce an actual carbon tax. I tend to think this now-abandoned policy led to Patrick Brown’s swift and abrupt political demise. The Conservative party has invested years promoting a narrative that all government spending is wasteful and all taxes are evil. Brown’s platform was an abomination to those that bankroll the party. Here’s how they put it: “Ontario’s expensive cap and trade carbon tax  … makes life harder for Ontario families and our economy more uncompetitive … We will put money back in the pockets of Ontario taxpayers and stand up for our job creators.” (Simon Jeffries, Conservative spokesperson, April 16)

Cap and Trade is designed to internalize the cost of carbon into the cost of production instead of pushing it, by default, onto the public. It’s not a tax since manufacturers can reduce, or avoid, the fee by adopting cleaner, carbon-free methods of production. Their choice. The most efficient businesses become the most competitive. Under cap-and-trade carbon emissions in Ontario are projected to decline by 8 to 10 megatonnes by 2020.

In the end, some form of carbon pricing is coming. The federal policy mandates it by the end of this year. Ford says he will fight it – abolish the existing cap and trade, and fight any alternative federal carbon tax. So, how many millions of public money is he willing to flush away on government lawyers and court fights?

Cap and Trade generated $1.9 billion in revenue in 2017 ($2.4 billion to date). Here’s what’s at stake:

  • $377 million allocated to fund energy conservation for households and small –businesses
  • $657 million allocated over 5 years for improvements to social housing apartment buildings
  • $100 million to support municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • $25 million allocated for a Low Carbon Innovation Fund to commercialize new technologies
  • $8 million allocated for an electric school bus pilot program

So what is the possible Conservative alternative under Doug Ford? We don’t know. Are Conservatives giving up almost $2 billion in provincial revenue and dumping the associated conservation initiatives? Does Ford think corporations will take remedial carbon reduction action voluntarily? Will we have a Catastrophic Weather Recovery Fund* instead? If he’s promising “relief is coming” for the ‘little guy’ (but he’d lower only corporate taxes and block the minimum wage increase), will he attack the “Sunshine” List” payrolls or follow the usual route of slashing all government payroll and programs?  Is he proud that Ontario is one of the highest per capita carbon emitting jurisdictions? If not, what’s the plan?

Can Ontario afford to elect someone who wants to ‘cap’ the truth and hide from the consequences?

* Check out: Climate Scientists Warn Tipping Point Is Near

Innisfil GO Station

InnisGO

Innisfil GO Station – Preferred Design / Metrolinx

Metrolinx held a public meeting in Cookstown to discuss evolving plans for construction of an Innisfil GO Station. Certain sections of track will have to be ‘twinned’ prior to development of a new station. The Barrie line is also expected to be electrified by the time an Innisfil station is ready to open. The service will eventually provide daily 30 minute departures. There will initially be 350 parking spaces with later possible expansion to 500 if needed.

The meeting presentation is available to view online at Innisfil GO Station presentation.