Latest posts in Notes from the Panther Lounge

New revenue tools could make Toronto safer, healthier

June 27, 2016 | Leave a comment
Photo: New revenue tools could make Toronto safer, healthier

(Credit: Matt Jiggins via Flickr)

By Gideon Forman and Scott Leon

This week City Manager Peter Wallace will release a report outlining potential new "revenue tools" that Toronto can use to pay for vital services such as public housing and transit. Among the most promising are a tax on alcoholic beverages and a levy on commercial parking lots. Detractors may attack these tools as cash-grabs, but before they dismiss them they should recognize these new measures could further a goal all of us support: making Toronto safer and healthier.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says a five per cent tax on alcohol sold at outlets such as the LCBO and the Beer Store could generate about $77 million annually. A levy paid by the owners of commercial — not residential — parking spaces would add at least $175 million a year. Combined, these initiatives would provide Toronto with over a quarter-billion dollars each budget cycle to fix community housing and help finance TTC operations.

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When is wildlife no longer wild?

June 15, 2016 | 1 comment
Photo: When is wildlife no longer wild?

(Credit: Nathanael Coyne via Flickr)

By Rachel Plotkin, Ontario Science Projects Manager

I became an environmental activist while working as a summer student at a zoo. As an animal lover, it seemed like a perfect job, and I felt lucky to get it. But I quit midway through my fourth summer, unable to stomach the despair and boredom that greeted me from behind the cage bars every day.

My zoo experiences led me to my first job at an environmental organization, Zoocheck, and onto my current work of over 15 years — advocating for wildlife habitat protection. I've pushed science-based protection measures for all sorts of species — from snapping turtles to right whales to monarch butterflies — but a big focus of my work has been boreal woodland caribou.

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MOSAIC elders express their love for nature

June 2, 2016 | Leave a comment
Photo: MOSAIC elders express their love for nature

MOSAIC elder Chen Li and elders’ love letters to nature.

By Winnie Hwo, senior public engagement specialist

我愛您, 大自然

I love my work as a public engagement specialist at the David Suzuki Foundation. That is especially true during May, because I get to meet people like Li Chen, who joined the David Suzuki Foundation's 30×30 Nature Challenge and wrote one of the most heart-warming love letters to nature I have come across. The love Chen feels from nature is similar to the love she felt from her own mother.

"Nature, your warm sunshine, clean air and water nurture us like a mother's milk. You help us grow, generation after generation, to become healthy and strong. Your jade-green forests and five-coloured flowers and grass dress up our environment in four corners. You energize us every day and give us strength to live life to the ten-full (fullest). Nature, we deeply love you, we want to get close to you and protect you. Thank you for giving us everything," Chen wrote.

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Government leaders: Stop ignoring Grassy Narrows mercury poisoning

May 31, 2016 | Leave a comment
Photo: Government leaders: Stop ignoring Grassy Narrows mercury poisoning

The River Run rally brings affected community members from Grassy Narrows to downtown Toronto.

By Rachel Plotkin, Ontario Science Projects Manager

The other day I was reading a scientist's report on Grassy Narrows that detailed the effects of the 9,000 kilograms of untreated mercury waste that was dumped into the Wabigoon River from in the 1960s by a local pulp and paper mill. The report gave me pause because it's divided into sections on community health and the environment.

In Toronto, these distinctions would likely stand. The lake that laps against the city's southern edge could be filled with toxic chemicals and many of us would only notice the red flags that stopped us from swimming on beach days. We'd continue to march into grocery stores and restaurants and buy food from all over the world (rarely from our local region). 

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Volunteers in Action: Meet Estelle

May 20, 2016 | Leave a comment
Photo: Volunteers in Action: Meet Estelle

By Jennifer Rodriguez, Volunteer Engagement Specialist

Estelle loves to learn. A researcher since 2009, she's used tree rings as natural archives of forest disturbances such as wildfires and insect outbreaks to assist forest management. Her curiosity has also taken her to remote locations in North and South America, Europe and Australia, and to volunteer with the International Union for Conservation of Nature's forest conservation program.

Eager to learn more about marine ecosystems, Estelle joined the David Suzuki Foundation as volunteer archivist for the Healthy Oceans Program on the Sustainable Howe Sound campaign early in 2014. For two years, she researched the environmental and social history of the Howe Sound region, gathering key historical facts and creating a chronological timeline from the Pleistocene until today. Estelle also contacted local and regional libraries, museums and media outlets to access archive materials from the early 1900s until today and compiled a list of about 500 historical photographs and 200 other documents including maps, videos, newspaper articles, microfilm captures, research papers, reports and theses.

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