Newsletter: February 2024

Newsletter: February 2024

FEBRUARY 29, 2024 –

A Message from our President

There is a break in the cold weather today at the old cabin that I try to get to on weekends. It’s an atypical warm spell, and while many people love it, if you’re reading this then you likely feel differently.

We recently received some tough news that makes it even more impossible to enjoy this unseasonable weather. Two very long Small Change Fund-supported battles were defeated at the Ontario Land Tribunal. One was to stop the digging of a new gravel pit in the Waterloo region; the other, in Bracebridge, was to prevent the construction of a large private school next to wetlands teeming with wildlife.

These battles were relentless. The Bracebridge one started in 2019. The proposed pit, now a done deal, is entirely unneeded.

The Tribunal is considered the last resort for land planning decisions. Except, something tells me the people fighting these battles won’t take no for an answer when the health of their communities and local environment is endangered.

That’s because they’re the same kind of people who got the Greenbelt land appropriation scheme cancelled. And look at what happened at COP 28 just two months ago: it closed with signaling “the beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era.

Winning is possible. But when you’ve just been defeated in a battle, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees.

So, today I salute our valiant fighters, our Davids and Davidas against deep-pocketed Goliaths. They literally went to the very last round. Now, they’ll no doubt do what all great fighters do: take a moment to recover, learn from the defeat, then come back punching.

And here’s one more piece of encouragement: Small Change Fund projects have tripled since 2021. There’s now more of us out there fighting, not less.

Keep going. We’ve got your back.

– Burkhard



Braving the Bay

More than 200 donors supported 30 brave participants in last Saturday’s Save the Bay Polar Dip! Dippers plunged into two-degree water to raise awareness of the risks posed to Georgian Bay and the Niagara Escarpment by a proposed Hydroelectric Pumped Storage project. The event has raised $17,000 so far and you can still give to help us Save the Bay!

Picture by Garrett Elliott.

A Youth Transit Revolution

We are thrilled to share that the Sunshine Coast (BC) is moving forward with free youth transit. The community was inspired by our Get On The Bus movement and we are pleased to support their hard work through mentorship and providing resources.

In other exciting news, the Board of the Toronto Transit Commission approved a motion on February 22nd to investigate a 2024-25 pilot program providing free tickets for middle and secondary school field trips. The pilot will also “engage with School Boards and Get on the Bus to create an education module that develops student skills, confidence, etiquette and fare compliance.” You can support Get on the Bus by donating and/or signing up for our periodic newsletter on our website.

The Pits

For nearly two years we have worked alongside Citizens for Safe Ground Water to fight the development of the Hallman Pit in Wilmot Township. The recent Ontario Land Tribunal decision approving the pit represents a failure by the provincial and municipal governments to protect the community and the local environment.

Ontario licences 13 times more aggregate for extraction every year than the industry uses. The approved Hallman Pit is across the road from several existing pits which currently extract less than 25% of their approved licenses. We will continue to fight, alongside our tireless partners, against unnecessary gravel mining expansion in Ontario.

Sharing the Love

A lovely time was had by all at the Greenbelt Promise Valentine’s Tea in Caledon on February 10th. The event celebrated recent victories in protecting the Greenbelt, as well as raised awareness about ongoing issues. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, attendees sent cards to MPP Sylvia Jones, citing the importance of protecting the Greenbelt.

Silver Linings

While we may have lost at the Ontario Land Tribunal, our efforts to protect the South Bracebridge Wetlands from development for the proposed Muskoka Royale College were certainly not in vain. Led by our partners at the South Bracebridge Environmental Protection Group, we secured official designation that the lands are “Provincially Significant Wetland” and an increase in the required buffer zones from a minimum of 15 to 30 meters. Stay tuned for the next steps in this battle that is so important for water and wildlife in the region.

New Projects

Nature Walks and Workshops: to provide accessible outdoor education programs to children from socially and economically disadvantaged communities in British Columbia and Alberta.

World Water Day 2024: to amplify local actions on the human right to water and to engage school children in advocating for a resolution to the 28 remaining drinking water advisories in First Nations communities across Canada. World Water Day is March 22nd, 2024.

Small News Bites

Sending much love and gratitude to our partners, donors, supporters and allies on this Leap Day!


The Small Change Fund Team

P.S. Your donation directly to Small Change Fund allows us to keep improving services and supports to help more grassroots projects succeed nationwide. Thank you for helping make change!