Mississauga youth lead advocacy for green development standards

City needs to position itself as a climate leader, writes Malkeet Sandhu

This article was written by Malkeet Sandhu and was published in the Mississauga News on March 26, 2023.

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By Malkeet Sandhu

Malkeet Sandhu is a Brampton resident and community organizer with the David Suzuki Foundation.

On March 22, Mississauga youth showed up in record numbers at city hall to demand that city council act on its 2019 climate commitments by strengthening green development standards. 

Forty young people packed the council chambers to support Future Majority’s Mississauga team in presenting a deputation advocating for a sustainable, affordable and healthy city. Over the past year, the team has collected more than 1,200 petition signatures and 300 letters to city council to share their vision for Mississauga’s future.

Mississauga’s greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise and over half come from buildings. To meet the city’s 2050 climate targets, Mississauga must strengthen its outdated green development standards and make them mandatory.

Cities such as Toronto, Whitby, Ajax and Pickering have already implemented mandatory green development standards. Future Majority Mississauga volunteers are advocating that the city catch up and even position itself as a climate leader by setting a goal of net-zero emissions from all new buildings.

It is far easier and more cost-effective to build correctly from the start than to retrofit later.

Mandatory green development standards would make life for residents more affordable, through significant savings on energy bills and avoiding home retrofits down the road. They would also help improve the city’s air quality. Mississauga is one of the top worst 10 Canadian cities in terms of air quality.

In response to the deputation, Mississauga council affirmed their support for strengthened GDS, reflecting the city’s climate targets and giving young people a glimmer of hope.

Youth are demanding to be included in the consultation process and given a seat at the table to ensure the standards are as strong as possible, because their futures are at stake. The city will also consult with residents in the coming months.

Residents can show support for robust green development standards by signing the petition to council available through actionnetwork.org. Residents can stay updated on the first round of community consultations via yoursay.mississauga.ca/green-standards-2023.

Malkeet Sandhu is a community organizer with the David Suzuki Foundation.

Author: Ray Nakano

Ray is a retired, third generation Japanese Canadian born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. He resides in Toronto where he worked for the Ontario Government for 28 years. Ray was ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh in 2011 and practises in the Plum Village tradition, supporting sanghas in their mindfulness practice. Ray is very concerned about our climate crisis. He has been actively involved with the ClimateFast group (https://climatefast.ca) for the past 5 years. He works to bring awareness of our climate crisis to others and motivate them to take action. He has created the myclimatechange.home.blog website, for tracking climate-related news articles, reports, and organizations. He has created mobilizecanada.ca to focus on what you can do to address the climate crisis. He is always looking for opportunities to reach out to communities, politicians, and governments to communicate about our climate crisis and what we need to do. He says: “Our world is in dire straits. We have to bend the curve on our heat-trapping pollutants in the next few years if we hope to avoid the most serious impacts of human-caused global warming. Doing nothing is not an option. We must do everything we can to create a livable future for our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations.”

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