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2007 Ontario Budget Overview

Friday, March 23rd 2007 11:36:11am

Energy Conservation, Environment, Natural Spaces and Resources, Green Economy, Transportation

Environmental Communication Options (ECO), an affiliate of the Green Group (see below), has prepared this summary of Ontario's 2007 budget and the following areas of interest related to:

• Energy Conservation
• Environment
• Natural Spaces and Resources
• Green Economy
• Transportation

With October 10, 2007 set as the provincial election date (the first time an election date has been pre-set in Ontario’s history), a six-month long election campaign has begun, kicked-off by today’s March 22, 2007 budget.

Over the next six months, there will be more calls for analysis of government priorities and programs.  In addition, interest groups will be expected to provide in-depth analysis of party positions.  

Groups engaged in environmental, natural resources and energy issues have played an important role in past elections.  With the heightened public awareness of these issues, we can expect this to be repeated.


The financial allocations to environmental issues in this budget must be taken in the context of the pending Climate Change Plan expected in mid to late April.

Here are the highlights of the budget:

Energy Conservation

* $24 million for homeowners to improve household energy efficiency. Homeowners will be able to access rebates for home energy audits worth $150.

* Project Porchlight will be given $1.5 million to deliver energy efficient lightbulbs to 500,000 homes this summer.  The energy savings will be enough to power 5,200 homes a year.


Environment


Brownfield Reform

* Cleaning up brownfield properties will have positive impacts for the environment, so the government is committing to introduce;

    - Legislative reform packages to reduce barriers for the government, private landowners, municipalities and others dedicated to greening properties previously dedicated to industry use.

    - An increase in the certification process of qualified persons to handle brownfield transformation.  Update existing frameworks and policy with greater stakeholder consultation.

    - $11 million toward regions identified as brownfield dense: Hamilton, Cornwall,Brantford, St. Catherines and the University of Ottawa.


Energy from Waste

* A streamlined approval process has allowed greater innovation in demonstration projects and pilot projects. Toronto, hamilton, the Region of Peel, London and Quinte West are undertaking recycling pilot projects.  The government will provide $305,000 to these six communities.

* The Recycling Council of Ontario is developing a 'zero waste toolkit' for community events as well encouraging re-usable plastic bags.  The Ontario government will give $325,000.


Drinking Water

* The government will invest $7 million in 2007 toward its new "Drinking Water Stewardship Program."  The program provides incentives for early action on protecting drinking water sources and education campaigns.  After 2007, the government will spend a further $21 million on the program.


Natural Spaces and Land Resources

* $2 million will be given for the Rouge Park Alliance, which works toward protecting, restoring and enhancing the natural, scenic and cultural values of the park for the public.

* Amendments will be proposed to the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act to allow better enforcement of the restrictions in the current statute.

* The Trees Ontario Foundation will receive an immediate $2 million that will result in more than one million trees being planted across the province.

* $2 million to support the implementation of “Keeping the Land, a Land Use Strategy” for the Whitefeather Forest in Ontario’s Far North in collaboration with the Pikangikum community.


Transportation

* An overall investment of $5.9 billion in 2007-08 to the province's infrastructure.

* Municipalities will benefit from an immediate $350 million in funding to public transit.

* Strategic investment in Niagara regional development.

* Connecting Links Program will give $25 million to municipalities to make roadways easier to access.

* Over the 2006-2007 period, Ontario will invest $277 million for transit infrastructure, distributed to municipalities based on ridership figures. $75 million will also be given to municipalities based on ridership figures that will deal with public transit capital projects.

* Municipalities will receive 2 cents per litre of the provincial gasoline tax (Oct 06 – Sept 07). This will give $313 million to 86 transit systems offering services to 104  communities across the province.

* $85 million will be given to the second phase of the York Region's VIVA express transit bus system. One third of that will go toward the Kitchener-Waterloo Light Rail Transit system.  This money is part of a federal and municipal partnership.


Green Economy

* The government will provide $21 million to Queen's University so that they may continue their research and partnership with private industry on bio-products and bio-materials.

* $15 million will be given to the Ontario Centres of Excellence, which promotes cooperation between academia and business to bring forth market energy innovations, i.e., low carbon technologies.

* $6 million toward the Ontario BioAuto Council which will position Ontario as a global leader in manufacturing auto parts and associated materials that are produced from agricultural and forestry feedstock.

* $6 million for Lake head University to continue to expand their research and capacity for growing sustainable growth processes as it relates to the Boreal forest.

* $3 million for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, which is developing its capacity on hydrogen research.

* $200,000 to the Organic Council of Ontario, which promotes industry development activities.


~~For political backgrounder please see pdf. attachment~~


Green Group

ECO is pleased to announce our collaboration with the Green Group, a new environmental relations firm which provides a complete range of communication, outreach and program delivery services for organizations engaged in environmental, natural resources and energy issues.

Environmental relations is a combination of public relations and government relations, but with the added advantage of knowledge and experience in environmentalism and environmental communication.

With new offices in Toronto and Sudbury, the Green Group is a collaboration between ECO, Petryna Advertising, Up Marketing, and Oraclepoll Research. Each of these organizations has designed and delivered winning programs for corporations, NGOs, utilities, government agencies and educational institutions.

Among the Green Group’s services are:

• Project Management and Proposal Writing
• Marketing and Public Relations
• Campaign Planning and Media Buying
• Retailer Relations
• Opinion Polling and Research
• Monitoring and Evaluation
• Event Planning and Management

When planning a campaign or initiative, be sure to ask about how the Green Group can assist.