Windsor-Essex On Watch (WOW), a vigilant local organization, is conducting a costless, one-hour virtual seminar focusing on the significant concerns over air quality. These concerns were notably aggravated after the unfolding of a summer characterized by unprecedentedly high temperatures, violent storms, and shrouding wildfire smoke.
Earlier this year, the pervasive smoke suffused the Windsor-Essex region, resurfacing long-standing anxieties over the detrimental health effects of air pollution. WOW anticipates that the impending online discussion will act as a catalyst for much-needed political intervention.
“Unhealthy air quality, fraught with toxic pollutants, has been a known issue for years,” declared Randy Emerson, a spokesperson for WOW. “We must not get used to the incessant poor air quality that detrimentally affects us all, with the brunt borne disproportionately by the less wealthy, racialized communities and First Nations reserves.”
Emerson further emphasized the urgent need for strong protective measures and regulatory enforcement in the community, citing the intensified pollution due to an unparalleled number of wildfires, a sombre testament to climate change.
An auspicious line-up of speakers are poised to shed light on their individual worries and viewpoints in a briskly paced panel discussion. Subsequent dialogues are tentatively centred around potential local solutions and beyond.
Embodying the sentiment of many, WOW member Jim Brophy voiced his drying hope, that the discourse would instigate further discussions and invigorate demands for regulatory control. Brophy lamented the indifference shown by governing bodies towards urgently required corrective actions, even as their regions smother under the tag of ‘world’s most polluted cities.’
Also lending her voice to the chorus of concern is Jane McArthur from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). She hopes the event would generate workable solutions that can then be placed before local political leaders for review and effective implementation.
In her words, “The stark reality of the risks we incur merely by breathing the outdoor air has greatly affected the mindset of people.” She called upon fellow citizens to continue pressuring leaders for action around environmental health. “We need to push. We need to have our voices heard by our leaders,” McArthur implored.
In addition to this, city Coun. Kieran McKenzie indicated that Windsor’s Climate Change Adaptation plan was due to be reviewed in council soon. He lauded the city’s recent tree planting initiatives, however, conceded there was more work to be done for public transportation and sustainable development.
McKenzie noted Windsor has planted more trees over the last four years than any comparable period in the city’s history, indicating the city’s active commitment to improving local air quality.
“There are some initiatives in progress, some that could be accelerated, and others that will necessitate a council decision,” expressed McKenzie, acknowledging that implementing those decisions would require political will and would potentially be challenging.