Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner made history at Queen’s Park on Wednesday by introducing Ontario’s first-ever Green Party legislation.
The bill is aimed at protecting the Paris Galt Moraine, which is where Guelph and nearby municipalities get their drinking water.
“It’s time we started taking seriously our sacred responsibility to leave a liveable planet for our children and grandchildren,” Schreiner said.
Guelph is one of the largest cities in Canada to rely solely on groundwater.
Schreiner noted the region surrounding the Paris Galt Moraine is expected to grow to one million people by 2041.
“Climate change and sprawl are putting even more strain on our water supply, so we must take action to protect what’s left,” he said.
If passed, the legislation would provide planning direction to provincial ministries, municipalities, landowners and other stakeholders on how to protect the moraine.
“This means protecting the moraine from pollution, from sprawl and from reckless resource extraction,” Schreiner said, noting it does not prohibit development, so long as it is sustainable.
Schreiner added that preserving the free water supply means the government would not be on the hook for millions of dollars in potential water infrastructure.
The bill was intentionally modelled after one that was brought in by the former PC Government in 2001 to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine in southern Ontario.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Schreiner was flanked by members of the Wellington Water Watchers and the Concerned Residents Coalition — a pair of groups based in the Guelph area.
“This region faces water restrictions and it is becoming more evident that the need to protect the features that ensure adequate groundwater into the future are put in place now,” said Arlene Slocombe, executive director of Wellington Water Watchers.