—- Municipal Candidate Survey —- Gordie Merton

Gravenhurst – District Councillor

1.     What actions have you personally taken to support a greener, more sustainable climate?

With environmental threats at an all time high globally. Right here in Muskoka we face many local issues such as, excessive tree cutting and blasting, to damage to our shore line by overdevelopment caused by the lack of by-law enforcement, to the battle between us and the blue-green algae, just to name a few.

When I observe what is happening to our world globally and locally it enhances my resolve to change how we live and how we impact our earth. Personally I have made changes at home and in my buying habits to reflect the change I want on a larger scale.

Some of these changes have been recycling as much as I can. This includes my sorting system that I use to sort paper products from cans and plastics. For each category I have a proper bin for, I also personally clean the recycled items to the best of my abilities so I am not sending out dirty recycling. In addition to this, our apartment building has Solar Panels to produce electricity in a cleaner way. Right now the power is sold back to the grid however I hope in the future we can utilise that power.

I have educated myself and continue to educate myself and my family on ways we can all work together to help. Including having a small family garden where all members of our family are able to contribute and learn from including the children and teens. We grow sustainable, healthy food for our family. This has started off slowly however has produced great results so far. We hope to expand in the coming year to also offer food to our community.

2.     What opportunities for climate leadership at the municipal level (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)) would you champion in one or more of these areas: Buildings | Housing | Land use (sprawl) | Transportation | Other

Leadership has to come from the local level, we must be the ones to engage the other tiers of government as well as educating our communities on how we can all make a difference. We need to reduce our Green House Gasses by providing other opportunities for folks to get around town including making our town fully accessible by walking and by use of bikes and electric scooters. We need to connect Gulllake park to the wharf with an efficient transit program. This program must have walking and biking included as well as the possibility of using an electric bus should we be able to lobby for funding for it. In order to make this possible we must have adequate bike lanes added to our roads, walking paths to provide ease of accessibility and mobility for walkers.

One other issue I would like to address is housing, affordable, sustainable and environmentally friendly housing. This includes looking at ways to stop sprawling and instead rethink our ideas and options for housing. Fostering a better and more tiny home friendly environment at the township to encourage the building of these homes. While at the district I want to look at the possibility of making tiny home apartments that have a community garden that the residents can take care of that will produce food. The possibilities are endless however community input must be the key to unlocking these programs.

3. A long-term problem requires a long-term solution. What is your 100-year plan? If elected, what would be your first action?

Thinking into the future and what we would like our future to be and the future of the next generation is important to understand our path and understand the goals and aims. We have declared a climate emergency now is the time to put teeth to that and start to act. In 100 years I would love to see not just Gravenhurst but all of Muskoka completely environmentally friendly and sustainable. In order to achieve this long term goal we must start right here and right now. My first act would be to go to both the local and district council to implement a 100 year plan that would identify the long term goal for Muskoka and the steps we can take now. That goal must include the community and the great minds that we have to ensure that each town is not left behind and that we all move together towards a better future for our world.

For example, what needs to be in the goal is not just reducing our green house gases but eliminating them, connecting each town through sustainable transit such as bike/scooter lanes, electric buses linking each town together. Educating our public building sustainable housing without sprawling and inspiring other municipalities to follow suit.