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“Our main concern is when they’re thinking about how to implement these policies, that those vulnerable populations, those equity concerns, are always front and centre,” said Enoch.
Eaton, Enoch and EnviroCollective founder Shanon Zachidniak hosted five focus groups last summer, consulting with people from 38 community organizations representing Indigenous people, women, LGBTQ+ people, newcomers, youths, seniors, people who have disabilities, food security agencies, neighbourhood organizations, and labour unions.
Looking to other cities like Portland, Ore., puts equity’s importance into perspective. The west-coast U.S. city in 1993 adopted a climate strategy, the success of which was hampered by neglecting people of colour and low-income residents, according to Portland administrator Alisa Kane.
“While marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by climate change relative to other communities, they are often the least likely to benefit from investments in sustainability,” the report states.
This is because low-income people tend to live in areas with less green space and fewer public transit options; they tend to live in inefficient housing in proximity to environmental hazards; and, they tend to be more vulnerable to heat-related and respiratory illnesses.
According to Kane, Portland should have asked questions like, “Who can’t ride the bus safely, and why?”
The answer to the first part of that question can be, people who experience discrimination due to misogyny, homophobia and Islamophobia.