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CouncilWatch - October 2005

In this issue:

  1. TEA Releases Smog Report Card
  2. Upcoming Climate Change Events
    (a) Volunteer to Stop Climate Change
    (b) Ralph Nader in Toronto
  3. Nuclear Power Not a Solution to Climate Change
  4. Stop the Big Pipe!
  5. Transit at Risk - Ontario Superior Court Stops St.Clair Transit Right of Way

(1) City of Toronto Gets "C-" on Smog Report Card : City's Smog Actions Inadequate

On October 6, 2005, the City of Toronto scored a "C-" on the Toronto Environmental Alliance's eighth annual Smog Report Card.
The Report Card measures the City of Toronto's progress in implementing
the 1998 smog plan and subsequent promises on air quality issues.

TEA reviewed Toronto's performance on smog in 6 key areas. The City received high marks for greening its fleet of vehicles and pressing other levels of government for air quality action. However, the City has fallen behind in implementing a wide range of programs including: energy efficiency improvements, getting its own energy from green sources like wind and solar power, better public transit, and making Toronto more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. The City has also been slow to fulfill a longstanding commitment to develop a comprehensive Air Quality Strategy.

The Report Card also notes that this summer's heat is a sign of things to come unless urgent action is taken to address global warming, and urged Toronto City Council to once again be a leader in preventing dangerous climate change.

(2) Upcoming Climate Change Events

(a) Volunteer to Stop Climate Change

Tuesday October 18th 7pm
Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Ave.

Join Keith Stewart and Kim Fry from the Toronto Environmental Alliance for a
discussion on climate change and the connections to social justice. Find out
how you can get involved in the international day of action on climate
change on December 3rd and why tens of thousands of people will be in Montreal in December urging global leaders to make the right decisions about the future of our planet.

The event will be followed by social time and strategizing over drinks.

For more information:
kim@torontoenvironment.org
416-596-0660

(b) Ralph Nader in Toronto October 28, 2005

RALPH NADER in Toronto:
Connecting Climate Change with Social Justice
- Innovative Solutions for our Survival
Friday Oct 28, 2005
8:30 PM
Ryerson Theatre (43 Gerrard St. East, Toronto)

(3) Nuclear Power Not a Solution to Climate Change!

The Ontario government is considering building new nuclear plants. TEA
opposes nuclear power and does not see it as a solution to smog or
climate change, as it creates its own set of environmental problems,
siphons scarce resources away from the real green alternatives, and is
incompatible with a green energy system. For a concise explanation of
why, see the World Wildlife Federation's statement on nuclear power , or see TEA's call for energy conservation, not nukes. 

(4) HELP STOP YORK REGION'S CONSTRUCTION OF THE BIG PIPE!

Next week the City of Toronto will decide what actions it will take to protect its rivers and future drinking water supply from the construction of the Big Pipe in our headwaters (located in the GTA).

Please sign up to make a deputation (or write a letter to the Mayor) at next weeks Policy and Finance Committee Meeting, Thursday, October 20th at 2:00pm. York Region is making a presentation. The MOE will also attend.

Be prepared for the meeting to go all afternoon.

Sign up to speak by calling or emailing Patsy Morris, Administrator, Policy
and Finance Committee 416-392-9151 or pmorris@toronto.ca. You can also
send Ms. Morris your letters and copy to the Mayor at
mayor_miller@toronto.ca

Click here to see a briefing note on environmental impacts of the Big Pipe to Toronto water volumes and quality - with recommendations to Council's Policy and Finance Committee. Click here for a map of the Big Pipe construction
plan (the map has one mistake - the pipe does not enter the City of Toronto, as shown in the right hand corner - York Region was smart enough to revise this extension to travel North of Steeles). The issue will go to
Council the last week of October.

Help save our rivers from the impacts of 35 more years of sprawling growth in our headwaters and the Oak Ridges Moraine.

For more information please call TEA 416-596-0660

Cheers,
Shelley Petrie
Executive Director
Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA)

(5) Transit at Risk - Ontario Superior Court Stops St.Clair Transit Right of Way

The future of Toronto�s plan to improve transit throughout the City was put at risk when the Ontario Superior Court ruled that the City had to stop
work on the St. Clair Streetcar right of way. The opponents of the
right of way employed a variety of arguments to oppose the plan. Among
the arguments was that the City of Toronto�s 2002 Official Plan has yet
to be fully approved by the Province. The approval has been held up
because portions of it, which have nothing to do with St. Clair, are
being appealed at the Ontario Municipal Board.

This argument could lead to all of Toronto�s Official Plan being ruled
invalid. A key element of the Official Plan is the proposal to build a
200 kilometre citywide network of transit priority lanes. These
priority lanes have the potential to improve transit speed, comfort and
reliability at less than one tenth of the cost of subway construction.

It is not clear yet whether this will be the result. The judges have ruled
that St. Clair has to be stopped, but they have not yet issued their
reasons why. Until those reasons are released we will not know how much
damage has been done to Toronto�s transit expansion plan. The only
silver lining is that the judges did make it clear that they were not
ruling on whether the right of way plan was a good plan. They went to
pains to say that they were only ruling on technical law issues.

Toronto has just experienced double the number of smog days of any previous year. 1700 Torontonians die every year from smog. Improved transit is
one of the cornerstones of making the City more liveable. Streetcars
operating in their own right of way � otherwise known as light rail -
is a worldwide phenomenon in the effort to improve liveability, cut
smog and reduce traffic congestion. Of the 50 biggest cities in North
America over 40 have either built a new light rail line in the last 10
years or are considering plans to build lines in the next ten years.
Calgary and Edmonton have such systems in place, plans are being
considered in Victoria, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal.

Experience with Light Rail has shown that it helps local businesses, increases walking, and ups residential property values. Here in Toronto the
Spadina Light Rail project rescued the portion of Spadina south of
college from a massive downturn. In the 1980�s globalization in the
garment industry caused many businesses in the area to leave. Since the
light rail project was completed both the residential sector and the
commercial sector have been booming on Spadina.

We can only hope that when the ruling is released there is room to salvage the City�s transit plans. To see a copy of the plan follow this link.