What West Niagara needs from the next government

·3 min read

With the election in the past, the time has come to focus on the future.

Several issues were hot topics in West Niagara on the campaign trail, including climate change, farming needs, and employment.

Climate change is arguably the most sensitive issue of all, as its side effects could potentially influence several industries and sectors.

From record-breaking droughts to shoreline property damage, the town of Lincoln has faced a number of issues in relation to climate change and according to the town’s climate change co-ordinator Shannon Fernades.

Extreme weather events are increasingly having an impact on the area.

"Not only to the municipality and how we operate, but also to the community and to our businesses,” she said.

Everything from irrigation and water conservation to public health has been affected, according to Fernandes.

Although the municipality has already taken action by voting in favour of declaring a climate crisis, Fernandes said there are things the new federal government can do to help. While the government has been helpful with resources and sharing information, she said there is room for improvement.

Adaptation actions, such as tree planting or expanding green spaces, not only have mitigation benefits such as reduced emissions, but also socio-economic benefits such as increased active transportation, more outdoor gathering spaces and reduced heat island effects.

She said increased federal funding of such programming, as well as investing in shoreline protection and helping those who live on shoreline properties.

“(It) would be a really great way to make sure that from every angle, we are tackling all of these different crises.”

Jordan farmer Chris Mullet Koop is a fifth-generation grape grower and poultry farmer. For the most part, he said the federal government has traditionally been very helpful to those in the poultry industry.

The fair farm pricing system set up by the government in the 1970s, for example, helped regulate the egg market to make sure that farms of all sizes could compete fairly.

He said the next step to supporting farmer’s needs is tech, especially with receiving viable internet in rural areas.

“It's almost a necessity for everyone now and rural parts of Ontario, which is where our farms are located,” he said. “So that's actually held a lot of us back.”

He said he uses the internet on his farm for several things; everything from remotely viewing security footage and receiving reports to feeding chicks.

As the new government is formed, it's important they know what it is farmers are looking for moving forward.

“And what we're looking for is just almost status-quo; maintain the system that you put in place.”

Promises are always made on the campaign trail, executive director of Grimsby and District Chamber of commerce Rebecca Shelley said. What's important now is whether the member of Parliament will come to the table now they've been elected.

To help West Niagara businesses recover from COVID-19 pandemic and prosper, she said there are a number of things the federal government could do. Anything from promoting local and inter-Canadian business, to helping small businesses maintain an online presence, but mainly helping businesses increase their workforce.

“We need more bodies that want to work,” she said, be it through expanding immigration or otherwise.

“Blue collar,” Shelley said, noting wait staff, clerks and other entry-level jobs are available in the area and need to be filled.

“There's a lot of high tech demand as well,” she said. “But I think at its core, every economy needs people that are at all different of all different skill sets. And right now, it is the entry-level jobs where you don't have a lot of people applying.”

STORY BEHIND THE STORY

With the election coming to a close, reporter Moosa Imran spoke to representatives from different sectors in West Niagara to learn what their needs are from the elected government.

Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News

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