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2. Council Votes for the Environment: Vote Count Report

Environmental Votes 2007-2008 

We congratulate Mayor Miller and his Executive Committee team, as well as key Councillors such as Gord Perks and Adrian Heaps, for working to bring meaningful environmental initiatives and solutions to the floor of Council. This Council has debated and voted on more environmental initiatives in the last two years than it did during its whole previous term.

Voting records provide an objective read of City Council's commitment to an issue. Accordingly, we have used eight key City Council votes on environmental plans and programs to measure Council’s support for an environmental agenda. Our results show that the Council elected in 2006 is the greenest since amalgamation. We are pleased to see that it is responding to overwhelming public support for local governments to take action on issues like air pollution and climate change.

 

Summary of the Key Votes Used in Grading Toronto’s Councillors

Support 70% Waste Diversion, June 2007: During the debate on Council’s goal of achieving 70% waste diversion through recycling and green bin composting, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong moved that Council receive the staff report as information. If Council had passed this motion, new waste diversion measures would have died. In this column, we count as a YES Councillors who voted in favour of continuing debate on waste diversion.

Change is in the Air Plan, July 2007: City Council adopted an ambitious climate change, clean air, and sustainable energy action plan, including specific targets for smog and greenhouse gas emission reductions. 

New Tax Revenues, October 2007: City Council adopted a land transfer tax and a personal vehicle ownership tax. These taxes are necessary in order to finance Toronto’s environmental initiatives.

Generate Renewable Energy, March 2008: City Council created a city-wide zoning bylaw to allow for the generation and distribution of renewable energy.

Taking down the Gardiner, July 2008: City Council approved an environmental assessment to study the impact of removing the Gardiner Expressway between Jarvis and the Don Valley Parkway, and replacing it with a waterfront boulevard.

Mayor’s Tower Renewal Initiative, September 2008: City Council approved the Mayor’s Tower Renewal plan which will increase energy efficiency in over 1,000 high-rise residential concrete frame buildings in Toronto.

Community Right to Know Bylaw, December 2008: During the debate on a community right to know bylaw that would capture information on specific toxics being emitted into Toronto’s environment, Councillor John Parker moved that the report be referred back to the Board of Health and be delayed for another year. In this column, we count as a YES vote Councillors who opposed referral of the report and wanted to vote on the bylaw.

Reduce Packaging, December 2008: In support of its 70% waste diversion goal, Council adopted measures to reduce in- store packaging by reducing plastic bag use, plastic water bottle sales at city facilities, and plastic take out food container use.

 

Level of Support

All but one of these initiatives (new tax revenues) was supported by over 2/3rds of Council. This level of support is not surprising for some initiatives such as adoption of Change is in the Air which provides “support in principle” for recommendations with little direct action. Mayor Mel Lastman’s City Council unanimously adopted the rec- ommendations presented in the City’s “Clean, Green and Healthy” environmental plan in 2000 but went on to have heated debate and limited success when adopting actual programs. We see a real difference in this Council with votes on weightier or controversial initiatives, like the Community Right to Know Bylaw, fees for plastic bags and green bin pick up for apartment buildings, all of which would have faced much closer votes in past Councils.

 

The Grades: Council Majority Gets Top Marks

TEA has been grading Councillors on their performance for over ten years and for the first time we have the pleasure of awarding “A” grades to a majority of Council. Including the Mayor, twenty-four Councillors received the top mark while five received a “D” and six were given failing grades. In contrast, in 2000 TEA awarded a majority of Councillors failing grades due to their support of the Adams Mine Landfill proposal.

Three Councillors deserve special attention for their grades:

Frank Di Giorgio A+ Change of Heart!

 

In 2006 we gave Councillor Di Giorgio an F for his poor performance. His perfect attendance and voting record in the last two years makes his the most improved grade on Council.

Congratulations Councillor Di Giorgio!

 

 

Case Ootes F Head in the Sand?

 

Councillor Ootes represents Toronto-Danforth, a community that clearly has green on its mind, yet he has received a failing grade from us almost every time.

Ward 29 deserves better!

 

 

 

Giorgio Mammoliti C+ Truant!

 

 

Councillor Mammoliti votes green....when he's there.

He missed over half of the votes we included!

 

 

 

Key Votes to Come

The next 20 months of Council will be filled with opportunities for Councillors to retain or improve their grades. TEA will be monitoring key votes that do the following:  

  • Buy and build green power
  • Ban two-stroke leaf blowers
  • Support a sustainable transportation agenda, such as implementing the Bike Plan and Transit City 

Most importantly, Council's voting record for the remainder of the term must reflect our need to stimulate Toronto's green economy.  There is no better medicine for these tough economic times.

Toronto must pair its aggressive environmental agenda with the proper economic development strategies that ensure the money we spend - through purchasing green power and green products, building more transit, and reducing industrial air pollution - results in local jobs and sustainable industries.  

 

Council Vote Report: Details on Grades, including Attendance Records