City joins Vancouver, Montreal and 20 others in standing up for citizens' right to clean water, fresh air and safe food
The City of Hamilton today became the first Municipality in Ontario to recognize its citizens' right to live in a healthy environment, passing a municipal declaration that protects clean water, fresh air and safe food, and gives people a say in the decisions that affect their health.
The David Suzuki Foundation's local lead organizer in Hamilton, Grant Linney, welcomed the news. "The people of Hamilton are proud of our history as a city of industry, but we also know we have to do everything we can to protect the people and places we love. That's what the right to a healthy environment is all about."
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Linney said the declaration positions Hamilton as a leader on the environment and will make the community healthier and its future more secure. "This is about setting an expectation about the kind of community we want and joining a movement of other Canadians from all across our country who believe everyone deserves the right to live in a healthy environment."
Hamilton joins 22 municipalities across Canada that have recognized these rights, including Vancouver, Montreal and Yellowknife. "These cities represent almost two-and-a-half million Canadians who now benefit from local governments that are putting the health of the people and places they love first," said Sophika Kostyniuk, national organizing manager for the David Suzuki Foundation. Kostyniuk said it's no surprise the movement is growing so rapidly. "Almost every Canadian believes nature is essential to our survival, and 85 per cent of us agree that our Charter of Rights and Freedoms should include the right to live in a healthy environment."
More than 110 nations have this right, but not Canada. Kostyniuk said provincial leaders should take note of Hamilton's move. Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights does not actually protect people's right to live in a healthy environment. Rather, it provides only for procedural rights, such as public participation in environmental decision-making.
"We hope Queen's park will respond to the City of Hamilton by initiating a process to review and improve their environmental bill of rights," Kostyniuk said. "Legal protections for substantive environmental rights in Ontario would contribute to healthier communities and position the province as an environmental rights leader in Canada."
Grant Linney, Hamilton Blue Dot Organizer
Sophika Kostyniuk, National Organizing Manager
David Suzuki Foundation