Letter to the editor: Opposition voiced to Northeast Town reThink Green membership

To the Expositor:

I am writing to you in regards to the Smart Green Communities (SGC) Regional Energy and Emissions Plan (REEP) as has been featured in your publication. I have had the opportunity to communicate with SGC in person, by email, and to read the REEP document multiple times. Here are my concerns with the Manitoulin REEP.

The Town of NEMI is a paid member of ReThink Green, of which SGC is a part.  Historically, I believe this has at times been a useful relationship resulting in money and energy saved.  I believe the current REEP will not be helpful to the citizens or the administration of NEMI.

Primarily, I believe the REEP will attempt to place an undue burden on citizens by attempting to restrict their energy use, travel and lifestyle.  The average family in the North is not extravagant.  They should not be made to feel that they must turn down their thermostats, switch off their lights, or give up their vehicles in order that large corporations can have unrestricted access to energy and travel corridors whenever they want.

ReThink Green literature shows that many small business members that participate in this program have successfully lowered their energy use and costs.  This is laudable for those who choose to participate.  ReThink Green literature also shows that the largest of their corporate partners are using significantly more energy than when they began.

COVID has done much to render moot the primary objective of an organization like ReThink Green. The economy has been largely shut down in western nations, and the result is a massive reduction in energy use.  Also, carbon emission reduction goals are achieved immediately.

Quoting from the Manitoulin REEP executive summary document:

“Our current capitalist-led model of economic development has, in many ways, contributed to a polarization of people and societies. It has displaced people, communities and ecosystems, and concentrated wealth in favour of a relatively small number of rich individuals. At the same time, millions of people continue to be affected by poor incomes and entrenched poverty.”

I believe implementation of the REEP will only benefit rich individuals.

Our lights don’t need to be extinguished, our cars forced off the road, our home heating restricted in order that a corporation can have unregulated access to whatever energy they desire, whenever they desire. This document ought not be the mechanism in which some politicians can say they have taken ‘sustainable’ action for the future. Sustainable for who? The people of the North do not live an extravagant lifestyle, and should not be punished by those who do.

Citizens can choose ‘sustainable’ lifestyle options when they are made readily available and at a cost that is also sustainable.  In the interim, the people of Manitoulin Island will not tip any scales towards environmental catastrophe.

Zak Nicholls

Little Current