by Cecilia Nasmith
Northumberland County council voted at its July meeting to become Canada's latest Blue Dot Movement proponent.
A contingent from the Northumberland Blue Dot Movement chapter heard member Sandra Campbell explain the importance of recognizing its citizens' environmental rights.
The name comes from the appearance of Planet Earth from outer space, Campbell said.
“It's our only home, and we must do everything in our power to protect it,” she added.
“The goal is to have this legalized right to a healthy environment recognized at all levels of government.”
While more than 110 nations accord their citizens this right, Campbell said, Canada is not one of them. Half of all Canadians live in areas where they are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution, and no national regulations exist regarding such things as water and air quality. The resulting costs to the economy are estimated at more than $1-billion annually,
They are working to have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms amended to entrench the right to a healthy environment, Campbell said. More than 111,000 Canadians have signed petitions in support of this effort, and more than 168 municipalities have issued declarations. These include Cobourg, Port Hope and Trent Hills (affecting 57% of Northumberland residents), and they are working with Alderville First Nation to produce a resolution regarding the rights of their citizens.
Council agreed this was appropriate, and a motion was put forward later in the meeting.
The motion recognized the importance of a healthy environment and its link to a community's well-being.
“Scenic views and natural areas promote tourism and active lifestyles, clean water and moderate climate allow for the growth of high-quality agricultural products, and the county forest provides recreation, renewable timber resources, carbon sequestration and climate regulation,” it noted.
The motion pledged that future decision making would be guided by the principles that all people have the right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, consume safe food, access nature, be aware of pollutants and contaminants in the natural environment, and participate in decision making that will affect the environment.
A copy of the resolution will be sent to Federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, Northumberland-Peterborough South MP Kim Rudd and MPP David Piccini, provincial Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Rod Phillips, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority and the Lower Trent Conservation Authority.