E-Newsletter Spring 2019

Welcome to Pollution Probe’s first e-newsletter of 2019!

As you may have already heard, 2019 is a big year for us. Pollution Probe is turning 50! We have plenty of exciting events coming up to celebrate 50 years of protecting clean air and clean water, so keep an eye on our website and social media to stay tuned for details.

50 years ago when Pollution Probe began, our founders were concerned about the growing environmental issues they were witnessing at the time. One day in 1969, the group gathered to hold a funeral for the Don River to bring attention to the excessive pollution and years of neglect.

If you were standing on the banks of the Don River back then, you would have seen and smelled the pollution from the sewage and the industrial waste pouring right into the river. The city had turned its back on a river.

Thanks to that passionate group of Probers back in the ‘60s, and the efforts of many concerned citizens and organizations over the past five decades, a lot of amazing work has been done to bring back the Don. You might even say that we are witnessing a miracle – the resurrection of the Don.

On Sunday 5 May, the Pollution Probe team was honoured to be joined by Peter Love, one of the original Probers who helped organize the Funeral for the Don back in ’69, to participate in the 2019 Paddle the Don event in Toronto. We were there to celebrate success to-date, but also to prompt thinking about the Don’s next 50 years. Given our history, we were invited to offer remarks at the launch before setting off to paddle the Don together as a team. After the paddle, we hosted our own booth at the landing party, where we also presented the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority with an award to recognise their contributions to revitalising the Don. There is still work to be done, yet I think it’s safe to say our founders would be thrilled to see the progress that is being made. We look forward to the day when we can all witness and experience a thriving Don River.
Work like this wouldn’t be possible without our valued supporters and partners in Government, industry academia and other civil society. On behalf of the entire Pollution Probe team, thank you for your ongoing support to help protect clean air and clean water in Canada. I hope you enjoy reading this edition of our new e-newsletter. As always, feel free to contact me directly if you’d like to share your thoughts or have any questions about our work. Best,

Christopher Hilkene
Chief Executive Officer
Pollution Probe
Low-Carbon Transportation

Pollution Probe is one of Canada’s leaders when it comes to increasing the electrification of transportation to reduce air and greenhouse gas emissions. In early 2018, we were pleased to be asked by the City of Toronto to undertake the Assessment Phase of its Electric Mobility Strategy. The Strategy will help to realize the goals of ‘TransformTO’ – Toronto’s climate action plan. These ambitious goals include the virtual elimination of gas-powered transportation by 2050.

We looked at the current state of electric mobility in Canada, as well as some key challenges that should be addressed moving forward.

Read the full report here.

When you hear the term low-carbon transportation, you probably think of electric vehicles, right? While EVs are a major part of Pollution Probe’s work to support low-carbon transportation, we are also pushing to reduce air and greenhouse gas emissions from movement of our products and goods: freight activities.

Thanks to the support of Natural Resources Canada, we created this report with the Delphi Group to look at how the UK, Germany, Sweden, China and the US are advancing sustainable and low-carbon strategies for moving goods.

We reviewed policies that included measures to improve fuel consumption, emission standards and alternative fuels and technologies. Probing the successes other countries are having in responding to this issue will help inform Canada’s approach to reducing GHG emissions from on-road freight. Read the full report here.

Protecting the Great Lakes

In April we released ‘Reducing the Impact of Pharmaceuticals in the Great Lakes’, the largest meta-study on pharmaceutical pollution in the Great Lakes, from a Canadian perspective, in over a decade.

Immediately we received widespread attention online and in the media, including coverage in the Globe and Mail.

Made possible thanks to the generous support of Environment and Climate Change Canada, this important study examines how pharmaceuticals end up in the Great Lakes, as well as what impacts they might be having on aquatic life and potentially human health.

Do you want to know what you can do to help prevent pharmaceuticals from ending up in the Lakes?

Check out the webpage here to download the full report, executive summary, as well as our handy explainer guide, ‘Pharmaceuticals in the Great Lakes 101’, which breaks down key pieces of information from the report. It’s a great resource for schools, community groups, citizen scientists, and anyone who wants to learn how to do their part to protect clean water in our Great Lakes.

It’s not Just About Oceans 

When it comes to plastic waste, the spotlight tends to shine on ocean plastics. Watch any news story or viral video on plastics and 9 times out of 10 it is focused on how plastics are impacting ocean life.

Pollution Probe strongly supports action on reducing plastic pollution in our oceans, however, we are also making sure that Canada’s freshwater, particularly the Great Lakes, receives equal attention in the discussion on ending plastic pollution in our waterways.

Freshwater rivers and lakes are often seen as pathways for plastics to get into the oceans, but Pollution Probe wants to shine the light on how plastics are affecting the communities and species that depend on these environments. Some parts of the Great Lakes have seen plastic concentrations as high as those found in ocean gyres. While ocean and freshwater plastics are similar, their sources and pathways are different, so they require responses that address these unique differences.

In late 2018 we held the Great Lakes Plastics Forum with the Council of the Great Lakes Region to begin identifying solutions to plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. The forum brought together leaders in industry, government, science and other environmental organizations to identify shared interests and common ground, and begin planning a pathway forward.

Made possible thanks to the support of The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, Canadian Plastics Industry Association, Ice River Springs and the University of Toronto, this report discusses what we are finding in the lakes, as well as the important research efforts and industry leadership that is underway, and the types of actions that should be prioritized moving forward.

The Great Lakes will remain a major focus of our work through the rest of 2019, as we continue to advance action to reduce pollution and ensure that clean air and clean water is protected in Canada.

Download the full report here

Clean Energy
Innovation is up-ending our world in ways we never dreamed of a decade ago. How we produce, manage and use energy is a major part of it. Driven by the need to act on climate change and lower greenhouse gas emissions, investment in low-emissions energy resources is leading to a rise in use, and a drop in cost. We have collaborated with QUEST Canada to produce a discussion paper on Canada’s Energy Transformation. It explores how to manage risk and create opportunities as we move towards a low-emissions energy future.This is the first stage in our work with QUEST to document the energy transition that is taking place and support its implementation. 
What's New

To celebrate our 50th anniversary, the folks at the Ice River family of companies have created these beautiful Pollution Probe 50 Adirondack chairs, each made from over 27,000 recycled bottle caps.

They are a great example of circular thinking! 

Pollution Probe Alumni
Ken Ogilvie

Long-time supporters of Pollution Probe will remember Ken as the former Executive Director of Pollution Probe from 1995 to 2008. Some of his greatest memories of Probe include working with talented and dedicated staff, and playing key roles in advancing environmental policies, programs and regulations, such as reducing the sulphur content of gasoline, advocating the closure of coal-fired electricity plants, reducing and eliminating mercury discharges to the environment, challenging Ethyl Corporation in the court on the use of MMT as an octane enhancer in gasoline, advocating more stringent vehicle fuel economy standards, helping the Canadian Standards Association and the International Organization for Standardization with the development of environment management system standards, and many other initiatives that have resulted in a cleaner and safer environment.

Ken has also worked in a variety of roles in the environmental field, including positions with three governments in Canada (Federal, Manitoba and Ontario). He remains active as an environmental policy consultant and has served on the Board of Directors of several organizations – most recently the Pembina Institute and QUEST (Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow). He is a published mystery book author and has been awarded honourary doctorates by the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and Thompson Rivers University, British Columbia.

Today, Ken remains a member of Pollution Probe’s extended team, offering his in-depth experience and support to high-level strategy, policy and report work.

Perhaps most excitingly, Ken has just published his second murder-mystery novel, HOUND. Ken’s first book, HER DARK PATH, was published in September 2017. Digital and paperback versions of both books are available on amazon.ca (as well as in several countries, such as the U.S, U.K, and Australia).