New resource aims to combat climate misinformation in Peel 
Feature Image Alexis Wright/The Pointer

New resource aims to combat climate misinformation in Peel 

When Miranda Baksh was a toddler, she dug a worm out of the fertile soil of her mom’s backyard garden. She proceeded to run around with the slimy creature in her hand like she had found the jackpot. Her mom, a bit taken aback and disgusted by the slithering invertebrate so unlike ourselves, encouraged the young creative soul to keep searching for what else she could find.

Soon worms turned to butterflies, to birds, to squirrels, to foxes, and pretty much any living animal she could imagine. 

Baksh had immense opportunities to explore her surroundings. Her parents, both from Guyana, were avid outdoor lovers, trading their exploits in the country’s rich Amazon rainforest, for cottage life, fishing and hiking in Ontario when they moved here in the ‘80s. 

She grew up in harmony with nature.

“I feel like that was, in a sense, imparted onto me,” Baksh tells The Pointer. “And I'm really happy that my parents were always encouraging that curiosity and helping me research and learn the questions of why.”

A driving curiosity about the natural world around her and a love for dance made her wonder if she could fit two passions together. Scientists worked in white lab coats with goggles and beakers; dancers dressed in bright colours performing on a stage. Torn, she thought she would have to choose between the two paths.

That was until Baksh entered high school and took a dedicated environmental science course. Thanks to an enthusiastic teacher, Baksh said for the first time she saw how the natural world intersected with everything. 

“I thought that you had to pick between art and science. And I really realized in Grade 11 environmental science, it was a beautiful merger between the two for me.” 

After undertaking a mini campaign on the dangers of sodium lauryl sulfate, encouraging all her friends to read the ingredient labels on their shampoos and conditioners, for a class project, Baksh finally felt like she’d found her niche.

“That is when I literally knew what I wanted to do. It was that course that brought it all together for me,” she said. “Because it combined all the things I cared about.”


Miranda Baksh (left) and the Community Climate Council led a climate strike last year.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)


Baksh’s passion led her to complete both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Environmental Science where she undertook field courses in Belize and Costa Rica. Coming back to Ontario she worked on conservation projects with both the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. But she soon realized that the climate crisis was an overarching problem on all the work she strove to achieve.

“I realized no matter how much I did conservation, the climate crisis was always limiting what we do in conservation,” she said. “It was just so clear that we can't tackle a lot of environmental issues without going to climate.”

This realization led Baksh to start her work in climate advocacy. Following the declaration of a climate emergency from many jurisdictional bodies locally and internationally in 2019, Baksh, with three other like-minded individuals banded together to form Peel’s Community Climate Council (CCC). The CCC was created with the intention of providing a platform for voices in the Peel community to participate in the environmental movement. 

“We felt that Peel Region was being excluded from the conversation. It was still very Toronto-centric. When you think about climate and what to do, where to go, people still just go to Toronto,” Baksh said. “And we want Peel to have a platform and their voices to be heard.”

That included minority voices as well. Peel Region is one of the most diverse jurisdictions in Canada with 69 percent of residents identifying as a racialized minority, according to the 2021 Census. Through her work with these diverse groups, Baksh said her eyes have been opened to how nature is so intrinsically intertwined with many different cultures. 

“When I work in the sector, a lot of people are like, ‘how do we get more BIPOC people involved?’ Or, ‘do they understand or do they care?’ And I'm always like, of course they do. It's on everybody's mind all the time,” she expressed.

But while climate change itself is now common knowledge and everyone from the young to the old know that we are living with the looming threat of climate catastrophe, a large majority still do not know what they can do to act on the crisis.

As Baksh’s network of active and engaged citizens began to grow, she met Gursimran Parmar, who would play an instrumental role in the CCC’s new initiative. 

“I've always had an affinity towards the environment where I've always wanted to do something about it. I just didn't know how to go about it,” Parmar tells The Pointer.

After solidifying herself in the environment niche in highschool, she went on to receive a Bachelors and Masters in environmental science before joining on the CCC as the Climate Hub coordinator in February 2023. 

“I'm really fond of climate education, talking about it and sharing it with community members, really, anyone who's willing to listen,” she says. “So that is how I ended up on the team developing our website.”

Earlier this year, the CCC launched its Climate Hub, a digital library of resources catered to Peel residents on environmental topics directly related to the Region.

The Climate Hub launched as part of the Peel Environmental Youth Alliance Eco Buzz conference held at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus last month. The conference brought together youth from across the region to generate insight and share knowledge on environmental issues. 

At CCC’s designated workshop, volunteers created a Kahoot for the participants ranging from Grade 6 to 12 and they had to use the Climate Hub library to find the answers. 

But Baksh said she was shocked by the amount of knowledge that these young people already had.

“Grade 9 and 10 [students] were talking to me about Indigenous rights and how they're often violated by environmental issues. And when we were in high school, we did not talk about that,” Baksh said. “It's bittersweet, of course, because I wish that you didn't have to have this burden and this weight on your shoulders to think about, but it does give me hope that the youth are aware.”

“The more aware that we all are, the more we can put our action into positive change. And you can't protect what you don't know.”


As temperatures continue to climb, many areas in Peel are more vulnerable to flooding, one of the topics the Climate Hub focuses on.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer Files)


The Climate Hub provides a consolidated database of accessible resources for residents to gain information on the issues pertaining to their communities. Currently the library features 19 issues ranging from the spread of ticks and Lyme disease, to Highway 413, to food deserts and suburban poverty.

The Ford government’s prized Highway 413 is a major issue of concern for Peel residents as the majority of the highway’s proposed route cuts directly through the region. Various independent studies on the project — including one undertaken by The Pointer — have found that the highway will pave over 400 acres of Greenbelt and 2,000 acres of farmland, dig through Indigenous land of significance, cut across rivers and streams 85 times, promote sprawl, and dissect the habitat of at least 29 species at risk.

“There are some city councilors that are very indifferent to it, there are some that are very pro Highway 413, and some think that it's already underway and like they don't really have a say, so they're just gonna let it slide,” Baksh said. “But that sense of feeling powerless is not acceptable. In my mind, I think that we really need to hold them accountable.”

Baksh said she thinks it is important for the public to press their municipal leaders on issues like this because municipal politicians by definition are supposed to be non-partisan. Climate change, however, she argues is an all partisan issue, meaning everyone across the political spectrum should care.

Another big issue highlighted in the library is Brampton’s Goreway gas plant. The natural gas facility, located on the city’s east end bordering on Claireville Conservation Area, is one of the largest in Ontario. The plant has attracted a lot of attention in recent months as the province ramps up the production of natural gas. Late last year, Capital Power, which owns the plant, went to Brampton council to propose an expansion. Alternatively, they proposed a battery storage option which councillors agreed to. Essentially this would allow the storage of excess produced gas power for use when demand is high. Overall, Keith Brooks, programs director at Environmental Defence, said the City, as many others have been, was still blindsided. 

In a September environmental review report, the power generation company suggested the expansion would be environmentally advantageous as the upgrades would allow it to operate more efficiently, supplying a greater sum of power per pollution output. But overall, even if the amount of emissions per unit of electricity produced decreases, the plant’s emissions will still increase 3.2 percent, to an average total of 1.4 million tonnes each year. 

“I think no matter how much councillors do, at the end of the day, if we don't have a premier who's aligned, it caps their impact,” Baksh said. “Sometimes they'll say that they want to do certain things, but they're not able to because of what's happening at the provincial level. So it is very interesting to know what the province is responsible for in terms of climate action and what municipalities are responsible for.”


Councillors from all three Peel municipalities have conflicting values on environmental issues.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)


But Baksh said the CCC has had mixed interactions with the councillors elected to represent them.

In the first two years of the CCC’s existence, they had a political advocacy team who focussed on meeting with councillors and delegating at meetings on issues of environmental significance. The CCC also worked to create a guide for youth to follow and learn how to get involved in politics, but also for municipal leaders to approach youth on issues they care about.

The latter was not so successful. 

“Some were clear allies and they wanted to meet again, or they invited us to their tree planting events and things like that,” Baksh said. “But quite a few we didn't hear back from after the first meeting.”

Some councillors, especially those in Brampton, do not have a good track record on climate change issues. Since his election in 2018, Mayor Patrick Brown has pushed successive tax freezes on the City, moving money away from climate initiatives, which have repeatedly been an afterthought: for example, the 2022 budget allocated more funds for a single road than all climate initiatives combined. This lack of indifference to the environmental destruction and increasing pressure to address emissions was observed in the 2023 and 2024 budgets. 

Councillors Martin Mederios and Pat Fortini have often stood behind Brown on his antics, most significantly refusing to reopen a discussion regarding the City’s stance on Highway 413.

But when council refuses to recognize the severity of the crisis, misinformation can easily make its way through the community. Mayor Brown has repeatedly made the claim, for example, that Brampton is a trend setter in transitioning to cleaner transit systems. Meanwhile, Mississauga, is much further ahead in acquiring hybrid electric busses.

“It's really just to eliminate barriers for all members, so they're just making easier socially defined climate related information, specific to the Region of Peel,” Parmar said. “It's very critical to our environment or ecosystem in maintaining and creating a buffer and resilience to climate change. So things like milder winters, the increase in pests, as well as invasive species that have a direct link to your health, to food accessibility and just overall quantity and quality, as well as water.”

“I think that climate knowledge and learning about it is very intimidating for people because it's become so politicized, and there is a lot of misinformation out there,” Baksh said. “So even just trying to weed out what's right and what's wrong. It's a lot to put on your everyday person.

Information is the first step towards action, Parmar said. The goal of the climate hub is to increase this awareness and climate literacy so that individuals can decide what is the best course of action for themselves.

“It just comes down to the fact that one way or the other these changes are gonna impact you. And it's really important for you to be aware of so that you can make decisions, whether it's for yourself and family or community, business, whatever it may be. You're informed enough, aware enough that you can make smart decisions,” she said. 

Baksh expressed that the initial target audience for the Climate Hub is local residents because she hopes municipal leaders are more informed on these important issues. However, she noted that the more informed the community is, the better prepared they are to hold their leaders accountable for their actions.

Before the Climate Hub, knowledge on Peel-related climate issues was quite difficult to track down, both Baksh and Parmar say.

“We found that if you wanted to find any information on climate in Peel, you had to go to 10 different websites, that could be Credit Valley Conservation, the Region of Peel, or our census data which was from 2016, for the longest time, so things were out of date,” Baksh said. “So we wanted to just bring something together that amalgamated all of that into one climate library that was really accessible.”

“I think it's really key that we're able to share those local impacts and raise awareness and also make it through a one stop shop that you don't have to scour the internet to try to find things for the research trail, you'll find it all on one site,” Parmar added. 

The library also focuses on using layman’s terms to make the information consumable for people of all ages and minority groups who may not have English as their first language.

Once that accessibility barrier is overcome, the second prong of the approach is to get the community involved in community events and delegating to council.


While the Community Climate Council’s September strike was a success, Miranda Baksh said they have not seen the same number of participants since the first strike in 2019.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)


Given the combined crises of climate change, mental health and affordability, Baksh recognizes that climate activism is a privilege, but she hopes by highlighting the intersections between climate change and daily life — things like food security, housing and drinking water — more people will be inclined to stand up for the things that are important to them.

As the Climate Hub grows, community members will have the opportunity to provide input. At the bottom of the library, there is a submission form for ideas to help the library grow and include a wider array of issues. Baksh said the CCC did the “infrastructure” but it is now up to the community to continue to build the resource. 

“Whatever you notice, let us know we can put it on this site. That's the idea of how we would like to progress. Of course, if we see something on our end, we would like to include, that we think is of significance, we will,” Parmar said. “I think it has now opened up for the community to interact and just learn and use a resource.”

The Climate Hub has already seen measurable success with over 100 people joining an online launch event earlier last month from all across Ontario. Parmar said that she has even received some positive comments from the community about the strength of the resource.

“I've had some nice compliments, that people are really happy with it, people who are within that sector or engage with that kind of media,” she said. “It's nice to see it being used and engaged with in the community.”

Still in its infancy stages, the Climate Hub has become one of the shining successes of the CCC coupled with the Climate Café which is a group-led, discussion-based event about the intersectionality between climate change and mental health.

But when asked which accomplishment she was most proud of, Baksh’s response was much more simple.

“I'm so proud that we exist,” she said “I know it's so cliché, but our existence in itself is so fascinating to me.”



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @rachelnaida_

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