Hamilton’s environmentalist of the year is biologist Joe Minor, who helped win protection of the Eramosa Karst feeder lands last year, and more recently discovered high levels of historic perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) pollution in a ditch leading away from the airport.
Minor and his fellow green honourees will be recognized Wednesday at the 33rd annual Environmentalists of the Year awards dinner. Other recipients include school teacher Grant Ranalli, who will receive a lifetime achievement award. Graphic designer Josh Gordon and entertainment educator Michael Nabert will receive awards of merit for their support of environment efforts.
An organizer of the event, Barbara McKean, head of education at the Royal Botanical Gardens, said the dinner recognizes the tremendously committed environmentalists in Hamilton.
“This is something that says in order to make the world a better place everyone has to be involved,” said McKean. “This dinner sort of celebrates those in the community that chose to pour their time and energy, and sometimes money, into making that kind of contribution in the community.
We asked Minor five questions:
What environmental challenges does Hamilton face today?
Essentially Hamilton is in a very crowded area of Canada, one of the most crowded areas of Canada. There are a lot of people living in this area and they are using a lot of space for people and they are not leaving a lot of space for wildlife. I think that is a big problem for the local environment, particularly the wildlife.
Do you feel that environmental issues are dealt with appropriately in Hamilton?
No, of course not. I think we’re not doing things as badly as quickly as in the past, but we still haven’t turned the corner to what environmentalists would call a sustainable future. We still continue to take too much of the land for ourselves and not leave enough land for wildlife, and we’re continuing to pollute land. And instead of cleaning up that land and reusing it, we continue to pollute land and move onto new land.
What is the key to addressing environmental issues in Hamilton?
I thinkthat we need to be very careful, and recognize that there is a whole bunch of us living in a very tiny space and we need to be very careful to tread lightly on the earth and stop doing what we are doing. So, stop polluting and moving on to a new spot, because we’ve run out of new spots.
How can the average Hamiltonian battle pollution?
At a personal level, think about your lifestyle. Think in terms of: how much land and resources are you using and are there ways you can save? Do you have the ability to live near where you work? Or live near public transit to get to work? Those types of things would be a big help to the environment.
How does it feel to be presented with the 2011 Dr. Victor Cecilioni Award for the Environmentalist of the Year?
I really appreciate the people who nominated me and thought that I worked really hard. To be honest, I’m not really happy to receive it, because I don’t think we’ve turned the corner. My concern is that we’re not doing well enough in respect to the environment and what I’m worried about is that I’m going to get this award and 20 years from now the environment is going to be a lot worse that it is now.
The awards dinner
Is happening Wednesday, June 6 at 5:30 p.m., at the Michelangelo Banquet Centre, 1555 Upper Ottawa St., Hamilton.
Tickets are $30 a person and can be purchased at the Royal Botanical Gardens gift shop in Burlington or by calling Environment Hamilton. To order tickets or for more information call 905-549-0900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tables of eight or 10 can be reserved. For more information about the dinner call 905-547-5116.