Green developments with LEED certification, build materials accessible to those with environmental sensitivities (which are also low to no emission), plus alternative energy and roof water collection systems/filtration for all new developments are keys to reaching these goals. I would facilitate discussions with the city and developers and make incentive plans that intersect with federal and provincial programs to encourage these future forward developments. Similarly, we need to build up instead of sprawling outward so we can house more people without compromising our parkland. If we carefully plan buildings to take up less land, we can avoid having to cut down established trees which clean the air and lessen ground temperatures. To aid with higher densities, I would urge planners to include community gardens and plant fruit trees in city parks that our many local non-profits could use to help feed people having a hard time.
I would make a motion to plant wildflowers on boulevards instead of grass, which means no gas is needed to mow, and maintenance staff can be dedicated to other green initiatives.
Creating carpool, bus and taxi lanes on our main four lane streets would encourage people to use environmentally friendly transportation, and lessen car emissions. It would also help our transit times and allow us to have express buses so that people can get to their destination faster. Safer bike lanes to encourage emission free transit would also help us reach our goal.
Emission Reduction Innovation
I have innovative ideas like dryer sheet bans (they are single use plastics) as they create endless landfill, generate formaldehyde when heated (a carcinogen) and release acetalehyde and benzene, plus numerous other pollutants commonly found in vehicle exhaust into the air. They are also an accessibility barrier to people with environmental sensitivities like asthma, those who get migraines and the 30% of the population who reacts badly to perfumes. They are unnecessary and people can use dryer balls instead, which ultimately saves a lot of money on laundry. I would also encourage people to switch to unscented laundry detergents, which emit chemicals such as acetaldehyde, acetone, ethanol, α-pinene, linalool, and D-limonene, contributing to air pollution and adverse health. Numerous studies show this to be true, here is one example: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11869-018-0643-8. As we recently learned our rain water contains pollutants, we need to be doing all we can. Guelph’s main water supply is reliant on rain. I would ensure the City of Guelph doesn’t use products that contribute to air and water pollution, which would increase our accessibility as well.
Green Science and Industry
I would also motion that the city challenge the University of Guelph to create a natural solution to the portable toilets which contain all the same chemicals as dryer sheets and scented laundry, and make an accessible, green composting toilet that we can have open year round in parks. I would motion we offer a business start up prize using the budget we’d normally set aside for emptying and maintaining portable toilets and encourage start up focused nonprofits, and federal groups to add to the prize. This would create a whole new industry and open up jobs in Guelph as well. We could lead the charge on environmental innovation if I had the opportunity to use my knowledge and experience on council.
As a person and parent of a child with environmental sensitivities I have an immediate need for good air, water and soil quality - so I have a lot to say on this topic. As the Chair of the Environmental Sensitivities Coalition of Canada, this is a subject I know a lot about. I can definitely help Guelph exceed our green goals and be a model city others follow for green plans.