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Community Air

You can’t get much more local than across the street from where you live; this is the story of GreenHeroes producer Joan Prowse.

She lives on Toronto’s waterfront, right by the lake, where a fight has been raging with an expanding island airport in the city.

Here in Joan’s backyard, issues from air pollution to noise pollution are an ever-present problem.

She took action in her backyard by joining forces with CommunityAIR (CAIR), a community organization formed in 2001, dedicated to opposing the expansion of Toronto’s island airport and returning the land to public use.

We decided to highlight CAIR because they’re a great example of taking action in your backyard. CAIR deals with many issues relating to the island airport, but its biggest victory story is about a proposed bridge from the mainland to the airport.

Tens of thousands of people live near the airport, within 2 kilometers of the commercial heart of Toronto. Also close by are major natural habitats for the city’s wildlife, including a bird sanctuary less than 100 meters from a runway, and waterfowl, fish, turtles, frogs, foxes, beavers, muskrats, and raccoons.

The community group was formed to help fight pollution and degradation of their quality of life, and to protect wildlife.

Jane Jacobs, the legendary urban critic, community activist, and inspiration for Jane’s Walk (Stay tuned for a post on Jane’s Walk) widely spoke out against the airport’s expansion and the proposed bridge. She said:

“I urge Torontonians to close down this dangerous Trojan horse and get on with planning constructive and delightful ways of using our magnificent lakeside assets.”

The group began meeting regularly, strategizing, building alliances and friendships, and reaching out to politicians and the press. Their perseverance and credibility, owing to the strong research they put forward, paid off in the end.

In 2003, Toronto City Council struck down the bridge proposition. But CAIR’s fight didn’t end there. This committed citizens’ group continues to voice their concerns about their backyard, to ensure a clean, green waterfront for future generations.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, you can make a difference in your backyard. What actions are you taking to make a difference in your community? How are you acting locally to affect global change? Do you know someone who is a change agent in your community? Share your story here for your chance to win a prize in our contest

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

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