Highlands East gets behind Blue Dot movement
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | November 12, 2015
Highlands East is the first municipality in the county to officially endorse the Blue Dot movement.
On Nov. 9, councillors passed a resolution in support of an amendment to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that would recognize every Canadian's right to a healthy environment.
"By that we mean clean air, clean water, safe food, access to nature, the right to know the chemicals that are in our environment, and the right to participate in decisions affecting the environment," said Heather Ross, member of the Haliburton Highlands Blue Dot team and Environment Haliburton!
Initiated through the David Suzuki Foundation and the environmental activist himself, the campaign now has the support of more than 88,000 Canadians and 98 municipalities.
Members of the local Blue Dot team spent the summer collecting signed petitions. So far they have about 1,300 signatures, including 200 from students at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School.
"Those signatures are to support the constitutional amendment," said Ross. "They're not suggesting that any government anywhere, particularly municipal governments, aren't doing everything they can to give us a healthy environment."
Ross pointed out the campaign is seeking support from seven provinces and 50 per cent of the country's population.
Deputy-reeve Suzanne Partridge said the municipality's environment committee has discussed this item at length and is in full support.
"I think it's a really good step forward because of all the reasons that Heather gave us," said Partridge. "It isn't a matter of job versus the environment; we have both to remember."
Councillor Cam McKenzie expressed his support of the initiative, but also noted his concerns about potential repercussions the municipality could face in the future.
Ross admitted that there has been concern about the potential for legal or fiscal responsibility for municipalities. However, nothing suggests this would be the case.
Councillor Joan Barton said the protection of the environment is something that falls in line with the municipality's strategic plan.
"What we have here is our environment. If we screw it up, no one will come," she said.
In a unanimous decision, council supported the municipal declaration.
Over the coming months, members of the Blue Dot team will seek the same support from the other three municipalities.
To learn more about the movement visit bluedot.ca.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.