About 5,000 city-owned trees fell during post-tropical storm Fiona, which hit the province in September 2022. – Rafe Wright Rafe Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

P.E.I.– .E.I.’s political parties are making sure that climate change issues are part of their platforms for the upcoming April 3 provincial election, allocating millions of dollars in initiatives.

With the impact of last fall’s post-tropical storm Fiona still in the minds of many Prince Edward Island voters, along with everything from electric vehicles and carbon reduction programs to land use and higher-density housing, SaltWire Network contacted all parties to ask how they plan to address climate change and environmental concerns. 

Here are some of the promises contained in their platforms:

Climate change

This is what remains of a section of road near Brackley Beach following post-tropical storm Fiona in late September of 2022. Plans for severe weather events are part of the campaign platforms in the April 3 provincial election. Rafe Wright

PC party:

  • Work with the School of Climate Change and Adaptation to create a 25-year coastal management plan.
  • Launch a Community Energy Initiative by working with local non-profit and community organizations to have local ownership of renewable energy initiatives such as windmills and solar projects where profits go directly back to local communities.
  • Transition the entire school bus fleet to electric buses by 2030.
  • Introduce solar technology in schools to increase renewable energy and education around green technologies.
  • Double investments in active transportation paths.
  • Become Canada’s most EV-friendly province by placing more charging stations across the province, particularly in rural communities.

“I’m especially pleased to see measures around strengthened coastal management, shoreline protection, and emergency response as part of our plan to respond to climate change,” said PC Candidate Brad Trivers in a statement on March 22.  

Progressive Conservative Leader Dennis King takes part in a leaders’ debate on March 21. – Stu Neatby/SaltWire Network

Liberal party:

  • Expand access to energy efficiency and carbon reduction program funding for residents and businesses. 
  • Ensure the provincial capital budget allocates a minimum of 30 per cent of its total funding upgrading infrastructure to reduce climate impact on the climate. 
  • Develop yearly action plans for the sectors that make up P.E.I.’s largest source of carbon emissions, including transportation and agriculture, with increased provincial/federal funding. 
  • Put more than $2 million towards land, energy and climate change in 2023-2024.
  • Increase public transit. 

“We want 30 per cent of capital infrastructure to be dedicated toward innovations around lowering and decreasing carbon emissions,” said Liberal party Leader Sharon Cameron during a question period at a campaign announcement on March 23.

Liberal party Leader Sharon Cameron speaks at a campaign announcement at the Murphys Pharmacy in Stratford on March 23. – Rafe Wright

NDP: 

  • Triple P.E.I.’s energy efficiency targets by 2026.
  • Implement a fiscally neutral carbon tax.
  • Establish a Green Jobs Task Force.
  • Create a publicly-owned Islandwide transit system.
  • Establish a moratorium on offshore drilling off P.E.I. waters.
  • Enact a permanent moratorium on high-capacity wells.

Green party: 

  • Make land transactions more transparent, allowing the Lands Protection Act to be enforced.
  • Increase spending on transit.
  • Build new wind and solar farms with municipalities as part-owners; install more solar panels on government-owned buildings
  • Implement a zero-emission vehicle mandate
  • Increase the amount of clean renewable energy generated in the province.
  • Better protect species at risk and increase the amount of protected natural areas.

Land protection

Up to 10 metres of shoreline was lost at Stanhope beach during post-tropical storm Fiona in September 2022. Much of the infrastructure is place was washed away by the heavy storm surge. – Rafe Wright/SaltWire Network file

PC party:

  • Increase setback requirements in areas such as shorelines.
  • Develop a land use plan to strategically develop and protect natural areas.
  • Implement all recommendations from the Emergency Forestry Task Force.
  • Increase nursery tree production by 30 per cent to 1,300,000 trees per year.
  • Increase funding to expand the watershed alliance network to ensure in-shore fisheries are protected, waterways are kept clean and trees are planted.  
  • Continue to fund Fiona clean-up efforts across the province.  

Liberal party: 

  • Establish a permanent and independent land use commission that reports to the legislature. 
  • Ensure the commission would be expert-based with Indigenous and geographic representation.
  • Ensure the commission has staffing and resource capabilities to undertake analysis, consultations and other activities deemed essential.
  • Revise the Lands Protection Act and other statutes to define and the role of the commission. 
  • Mandate the commission to undertake ongoing assessments of the effectiveness of the current policy and regulatory framework to achieve land protection objectives and recommend new policy and regulatory approaches.

NDP:

  • Ensure public participation in assessing environmental impact.
  • Work to amend the Lands Protection Act, to protect our natural environment against further questionable commercial encroachment.
  • Strengthen the Water Act regulations to address the impact on agriculture.
  • Provide P.E.I.  watershed groups with secure funding and technical support.
  • Increase support for farmers using organic and sustainable practices.
  • Renew legislation to protect at-risk species.
  • Support Indigenous-led solutions for water, air and land stewardship.

Green party:

  • Implement land use planning provincewide.
  • Give municipalities the resources needed to implement strong local planning.
  • Ensure land ownership and purchases are more transparent to make sure the Lands Protection Act can be properly enforced. 
  • Promote higher-density housing and reduce urban sprawl.
  • Protect prime agricultural land while maintaining production.
  • Protect waterways and groundwater.
  • Make land ownership and private purchases more transparent to make sure the Lands Protection Act can be properly enforced. 

“Liberal and Tory governments delayed implementing a land-use plan despite numerous recommendations and calls for action going back 50 years. This inaction has led to developments along our fragile shorelines and in flood prone areas, as well as a loss of precious farmland,” said Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker said in a statement March 14.

Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker takes part in a leaders’ debate on March 21. – Stu Neatby/SaltWire Network

Major weather

Several large trees fell down near the Ravenwood Drive entrance to the Confederation Trail during post-tropical storm Fiona in September 2022. Further clean-up efforts and response to future severe weather is an issue in the April 3 provincial election. Rafe Wright • The Guardian

PC party:

  • Launch a $5-million fund to retrofit warming centres with appropriate equipment and supplies to support communities during weather events. 
  • Install bi-directional EV chargers at critical infrastructure locations and warming centres so that electric school buses can be used as generators during power outages.
  • Build electrical grid resilience, in partnership with the federal government, through on-Island generation and storage, and moving towards burying power lines to protect the power supply during weather events.
  • Create a pilot for an in-province generation project.

Liberal party:

  • Undertake advance planning and preparedness for severe weather.
  • Develop an ongoing working relationship between the Armed Forces, Provincial and Municipal Emergency Response Personnel and other stakeholders to form a codified action plan with yearly climate-related disaster training.

NDP:

  • Launch an energy retrofit program, targeting three per cent of P.E.I.’s buildings per year to save money and cut emissions.
  • Invest in burying power lines.
  • Study the possibility of converting the Maritime Electric power grid to public ownership.

“If we want a better future, we have to make different choices. These are just some of the ideas that New Democrats are bringing forward in this election and I look forward to telling Islanders more about our better deal,” said NDP leader Michelle Neill.

P.E.I. NDP leader Michelle Neill (at podium), flanked by NDP candidates Carol Rybinsky, Tristan Mitchell and Edith Perry on March 9. The NDP is the first party to release a platform in the 2023 campaign. – Stu Neatby/SaltWire Network

Green party:

  • Conduct a public inquiry into the provincial response to Fiona.
  • Introduce shoreline protection legislation and eliminate policies allowing development within protected buffer zones.
  • Bring in a provincial land-use plan with a strong focus on making communities more sustainable, reducing emissions, protecting the shoreline and forests, and moving development away from areas prone to flooding or erosion.
  • Protect the shoreline and coastal ecosystems through the new land-use plan.
  • Adapt to climate change, erosion, flooding and storm surges.

By Rafe Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 29, 2023 at 11:32

This item reprinted with permission from   The Guardian   Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
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