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Halton Region pledges to protect pollinators

By Melanie Hennessey,
July 19 2017

The Region is bee-ing proactive when it comes to making Halton a pollinator-friendly community.

During its most recent meeting, regional council passed a motion from Milton Councillor Colin Best that calls for Halton to support healthy environments – including food sources, clean water and shelter – for bees and other pollinators.

The resolution says the Region will use planting favourable to pollinators on its properties, urge local residents and businesses to follow suit on their own lands and encourage efforts to educate the community about the importance of the issue.

Best’s motion stemmed from local teen Jennifer Jachtorowicz approaching him a few months ago regarding a “Save Our Pollinators” campaign she’s involved with through the Ontario Nature Youth Council.

The Bishop Reding graduate presented to regional council on the topic, telling the local politicians that issues such as habitat loss, disease, pesticide exposure and climate change are all contributing to the decline in pollinators’ health.

“When meadows become housing developments, pollinators often lose their homes,” she said.

Bees are suffering from colony collapse disorder all over North America, and scientists have linked this to the use of neonicotinoids, said Jachtorowicz.

With pollinators responsible for one-third of all food, she said the Ontario Nature Youth Council is trying to lobby governments to take action and protect the crucial insects.

The council has been working alongside Bee City Canada, with a goal of having municipalities across the province declare themselves as bee cities, which means they will protect pollinators and their habitat through action and education. So far in Ontario, Toronto and Stratford have received the designation.

She concluded by urging council to support Best’s motion.

“As council members, you’re in a position to make a change and start to help save our pollinators,” she said.

Best commended Jachtorowicz for her efforts and echoed her call for council to endorse the resolution.

“We certainly have a huge problem in terms of beehive loss in the area,” said Best, adding the Region should do whatever it can to get the word out across the country.

Oakville Councillor Allan Elgar, who seconded the motion, shared similar sentiments.

“I don’t think people are aware of just how important the pollinators are,” he said. “The sooner we start thinking seriously about this, the better it will be for everyone.”

Halton Hills Councillor Clark Somerville asked staff to bring the issue back at budget time with cost details on implementing the pollinator-friendly measures properly.

He went on to suggest the motion be forwarded to the four local municipalities and conservation authorities for their consideration and support.

“If we’re going to be become a bee region, we have to make sure we have bee towns and bee cities in there as well,” he said.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton questioned why the Region isn’t considering a ban on neonicotinoids, but Best said he believes the jurisdiction for such a measure lies at the provincial or federal level.

Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring asked if there’s another municipality that Halton could look to as a good example to follow on pollinator-friendly initiatives.

Jachtorowicz said with only two municipalities declared as bee cities so far in Ontario, the concept is still relatively new.

Burlington Councillor Blair Lancaster told Jachtorowicz she would help her connect with other local organizations that are working towards a similar cause, like Conservation Halton.

by Melanie Hennessey
Melanie Hennessey is a reporter with the Milton Canadian Champion. She can be reached at mhennessey@miltoncanadianchampion.com. Follow her on Twitter @MiltonReporter