Introduction to the Environment

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Our environment provides beauty, living space and economic, recreational and tourist potential. It also provides for agriculture, food and nourishment. Geography influences much of where and how we work, live and play and place forms a significant part of our identity. The quality of our air, water and ecosystem support life for Niagara residents. How governments and individuals plan and protect the environment will be a measure of a community’s future viability and sustainability and will affect the future health of a community and its citizens.

 

What we are doing well …

 Niagara is bounded by Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the Niagara River with its famous Niagara Falls. The Niagara environment provides great beauty, access to an abundance of fresh water, and rich agricultural land for fruits, vegetables and the making of wine. The Welland Canal provides for shipping and tourism opportunities and recreation along its banks. Niagara has a world class rowing course in Port Dalhousie and rowing venues along the old Welland Canal. Niagara is known for its tourism and the environment attracts many visitors. The Niagara Escarpment and the beginning of the Bruce Trail are in Niagara. Monitoring agencies are reporting and tracking air and water quality to build public awareness. A Niagara Watershed Report Card was produced in 2006 and a Niagara Water Strategy has been developed to work on each of the indicators.

 
Where we could improve …

 While there is cause for celebration that Niagara is an area with much natural beauty, there is also cause for concern to keep our air and water safe and clean and to deal with urban sprawl on our agricultural lands. While Niagara has recycling and composting programs, a large percentage of waste is still diverted to landfill sites. The costs of treating waste water are high and Niagara reports a higher than average sewage that bypasses treatment. Niagara’s smog days are of concern as factories in the US and Canada and high smoke stacks from farther away release pollutants into the air that land in Niagara. The number of deaths after times of recorded high pollution is high in Niagara. The pollution of our Great Lakes and Niagara River and beach posting times are of concern. Fertilizer and pesticides are sent into the Niagara watershed. Companies and factories along the water’s edge in Canada and in the United States send waste into the water. Reducing Green House Gas Emissions (GHGE) involves complex strategies for change, including the challenge of increasing the public transit system in Niagara to reduce auto use. Southern Ontario is one of the smoggiest regions and highest ground-ozone level areas in Canada. How to make Niagara more eco-friendly and protect our water, air and land remain a challenge.

 

Overall score: Level 2. Of concern, needs attention.

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