In his first virtual media appearance since testing positive for COVID-19, Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said if elected, he will “double the size of the greenbelt and implement a blue belt.”
The initiative will protect waterbodies and tackle cases of flooding in the province, he said on Thursday morning.
A strong plan for water protection is necessary as “they’re what protects our health, our safety, our water, the places we love and the communities we want to raise our families in,” he said.
“We need to ensure that water stays in our moraines, and our wetlands and our lakes and rivers and not in our basements,” Schreiner said.
Water protection is a key factor in creating climate ready communities and “one of the major threats to water in communities across the province is the gravel mining industry,” he said.
Schreiner also said he will be placing a moratorium on new and expanded gravel mining applications.
“There is a direct connection between gravel mining, highway construction, sprawl, and climate pollution,” he said.
He said the party will “bring forward legislation creating a minimum standard for the use of recycled aggregates.”
Using recycled aggregates is more fiscally and environmentally responsible, he said.
Sharon Armstrong, vice-president of communications for the Ontario Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, said Schreiner’s plan to place a moratorium is a “short term” outlook on the subject.
“It takes approximately ten years to license a sand or gravel pit,” she said.
The industry currently has “about a 10-year supply of material and based on the demand and time-frame, it is “important that the work continues to bring new sand and gravel operations online,” she said.
Focusing on using recycled aggregates, like recycling concrete sidewalks and using them in the creation of new sidewalks, is a greener initiative a municipality can undertake to supplement the use of new aggregates, Armstrong said.
The Ontario New Democrats also share similar concerns regarding mining.
The Party have previously announced they will be implementing ideas based on “mining-related green innovation.”
Schreiner, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday night, said he will be campaigning virtually and expects the Party to continue receiving a “significant upsurge in support.”