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Actions by Toronto Council to Grow the Greenbelt

In February 2010, City Council adopted motions supporting -in principle- adding the Don and Humber River Valleys to the Greenbelt and calling on City staff to work with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority and report back to the Planning and Growth Management Committee about how to proceed.

An April 13, 2011 staff report noted that there was no existing mechanism for Toronto to add these lands to the Greenbelt. City Council requested the Provincial Government to change the Greenbelt Plan to allow municipalities to add river valleys to the Greenbelt.

In January 2013, the Province amended the Greenbelt Plan and put in place a mechanism called the Urban River Valleys (URV) designation that allows publicly owned urban river valleys to be added to the Greenbelt by way of municipal request.

In February 2014, Toronto City Council directed City staff to begin the process of adding lands along the Humber and Don River valleys and along Etobicoke Creek to the Greenbelt.

In July 2014, Council directed staff to bring back a final report in February 2015 with a map of public lands to be added. Read TEA’s media release on this decision.

Winter Valley March 2014
Don Valley Winter, March 2014, (S. Wineland)  

Related Provincial Links



TEA Actions to Grow the Greenbelt into Toronto

2009: TEA starts talking to City Councillors about growing the Greenbelt into public lands along the Humber and Don River Valleys

2010: City Council agrees to grow the Greenbelt -in principle- into Toronto

2011: TEA works with other organizations to get the Province to change the Greenbelt Plan to allow urban river valleys to become part of the Greenbelt.

2012: TEA collects over 500 signatures in two weeks to support a Provincial proposal to change the Greenbelt Plan to allow public lands in urban river valleys to become part of the Greenbelt.

2013: TEA collects over 1,500 letters of support from Torontonians to City Councillors asking them to act and grow the Greenbelt into Toronto.

2014 (February): TEA succeeds in getting City Council to the next step in growing the Greenbelt into Toronto. (Etobicoke Creek is added by Council, and staff is directed to begin the process.)

2014 (March): TEA works to focus public support for growing the Greenbelt, leading up to an anticipated City Council vote in June.


Fall Colors along the East Don River
Fall Colors along the East Don River (S. Wineland)


Get Your Organization to Support Growing the Greenbelt into Toronto

Let City Council know your organization supports growing the Greenbelt into Toronto’s ravines.
All you need to do is get your organization’s Board of Directors or other appropriate governance committee to pass a resolution or write a letter of support.

For sample language, copy or download this document.

Then, send us the resolution on your letterhead.

You can either scan it and send it as a PDF to [email protected]
or mail it to: Toronto Environmental Alliance,
30 Duncan Street, Suite 201, Toronto, M5V 2C3.

Yellow Lady Slippers, East Don in May
Yellow Lady Slippers,
E. Don. (S. Wineland)

Sample Language

Support for Growing the Greenbelt into Toronto

We [insert name of organization] fully support Toronto City Council’s plan to grow the Greenbelt into Toronto by adding public lands in the Humber and Don River Valleys and along Etobicoke Creek.

We call on Toronto City Council and the Province of Ontario to move as quickly as possible to include these public lands in the Greenbelt so that Torontonians will visit the Greenbelt right in our back yard.

Ontario’s world renowned Greenbelt protects environmentally sensitive areas and productive farmlands from urban development and sprawl. The public lands in Toronto’s urban river valleys are valued as ecological and recreational spaces but they are also important corridors that connect the Greenbelt to Lake Ontario. To make this connection clear and help Torontonians appreciate it, it’s time for all these lands to be part of the Greenbelt.




Good news on Battery Recycling in Ontario

Starting in January 2014, TEA led a coalition of environmental and health organizations to oppose a new battery recycling stewardship program for Ontario because it uses a lower definition of recycling. 

The good news is that the new Minister of the Environment & Climate Change heard TEA's objections and intervened. In July 2014, Minister Murray directed the decision-making body (Waste Diversion Ontario) to halt all decisions until further consultation is completed. 

This intervention is a good sign - it is especially important as the Provincial government is creating a new framework for waste policy in Ontario that will shift responsibility for waste management to the producers and manufacturers in Ontario. Stewardship programs approved under the current policy framework should be considered carefully.

(The new framework will likely be similar to the 2013 proposed Waste Reduction Act and Strategy -expired when the Provincial election was called. Read more about the Waste Reduction Act here.)

The issue:

The Ontario Waste Diversion Act sets out rules for how waste is handled and recycled in Ontario. This includes regulations that require companies and producers to take responsibility for the waste created by the products they sell through Product Stewardship Programs. Waste Diversion Ontario is the agency set up by the Province to oversee and approve Product Stewarship programs.

Ontario's battery stewardship program organizes battery producers and recyclers to collect and recycle single-use batteries at a recycler in Southern Ontario.

A new battery stewardship program was proposed by a competing recycling coalition called Call2Recycle that claims it would recycle more batteries. Unfortunately, the Call2Recycle battery recycling program uses a different, lower, definition of recycling that would count the incinerator ash as part of the 'recycling' target, even though the current recycler has a higher standard of recycling that doesn't rely on incineration.

Timeline of events:

January 2014: TEA and a coalition of environmental NGOs from Ontario signed a joint letter expressing concern about a proposal to change Ontario's battery recycling program. A letter was sent to Waste Diversion Ontario urging them to reject the proposal. A letter was also sent to Minister of the Environment, Jim Bradley, asking him to intervene in the process.

March 2014: The good news is that our objections were heard by the Waste Diversion Ontario board - on March 18th, the WDO board did not approve the program and have instead committed to undertaking a review of the definition of 'recycling' and battery recycling technology. 

April 2014: TEA and a coalition of NGOs submitted a follow up letter to the Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO) Board. This letter expressed concerns with the WDO plan to approve a new battery recycling program before they've completed their review of the definition of recycling and battery recycling technology.

July 2014: TEA forwarded our concerns to the new Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, as we were concerned that Waste Diversion Ontario was planning to meet to decide on the proposed battery recycling program. Again, this decision woud be made before the review of the definition of recycling was completed.

Minister Murray heard our objections, along with objections raised by a number of other parties, and directed WDO to stop all decisions on stewardship programs until further consultation is completed. The Minister directed WDO to consult on the environmental and health impacts, the impact on Ontario's recycling industry and other things. Read more here. 


ENGO Letter to WDO - Call2Recycle ISP.pdf81.66 KB
ENGO Letter to MOE - Call2Recycle ISP.pdf51.19 KB
ENGO Letter to WDO Follow Up - Call2Recycle ISP - April 17 2014.pdf41.67 KB

Tell us your stories about waste diversion

On April 3, Council will consider a staff report about the future of waste management in Toronto, and it looks like the focus will be on waste disposal, not waste diversion.

We need your help to convince City Councillors to invest more of our waste fees into support and education for residents, businesses and organizations that want to divert waste.

Fill out the form below to share your story.

Growing the Greenbelt into Toronto's Ravines

Toronto’s ravines are places for us to connect with nature and enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities. But they are also precious natural spaces that help clean the air and water and provide important habitat for plants and animals.

The rivers that run through them are also important corridors that connect Lake Ontario to our world famous Greenbelt, which protects environmentally sensitive areas and productive farmlands from urban development and sprawl.

Greenbelt designation will protect Toronto's Don River valley. (Photo courtesy of City of Toronto)

TEA has been calling on Toronto City Council to grow the Greenbelt into Toronto by formally connecting Toronto’s ravines and rivers to it. This will insure a healthier Greenbelt and healthier ravines.


  • Let your City Councillor know you support adding public lands along Toronto’s ravines to the Greenbelt. Click here.
  • Are you part of an organization that would support Growing the Greenbelt into Toronto’s ravines? Click here.
  • To learn more about what TEA has done to support the Greenbelt, click here.
  • Toronto City Council has taken important steps to add public lands along Toronto’s ravines to the Greenbelt. To learn more, click here.

Large crowd calls for closure of uranium plant - InsideToronto

November 16, 2012
Lisa Rainford

Following a march from the GE-Hitachi uranium plant at Lansdowne Avenue and Dupont Street, a capacity crowd of protesters filled the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Centre sanctuary for what organizers are calling the first of many meetings to come about the nuclear facility.

Decked out in costume, the “Raging Grannies,” a group of older women who use song to protest and raise awareness of environmental and social justice issues, kicked off the Nov. 15 meeting that brought out local politicians from all levels of government, as well as several guest experts.

“If you love your neighbourhood, no uranium... Kick GE out for good, no uranium,” sang the trio to rousing applause.

Facilitated by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance’s Angela Bischoff, the meeting brought together a host of speakers, including Roy Brady, from SAGE, Safe and Green Energy Peterborough and Council of Canadians, who spoke about public consultations to hold GE Nuclear to account; Kyra Bell-Pasht from CELA, the Canadian Environmental Law Association and Heather Marshall, a toxics campaigner from TEA, the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

Area politicians revealed they were shocked that a nuclear processing plant has been in their midsts for more than five decades.

“Like many of you in our community, I was really surprised, shocked. I didn’t know GE was here,” Davenport MP Andrew Cash admitted to the crowd of about 100. “When you find out after 50 years you’ve been living next to a nuclear facility – something went wrong with the process. Clearly, the public information program failed. What I’m going to be doing is calling the CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) and the Minister (of Environment) to a meeting that never happened during the review of (GE-Hitachi’s) license.”

Cash said he has requested that GE provide tours of its facility to community members.

“Residents need to know what’s going on inside those walls,” he said.

Davenport MPP Jonah Schein echoed his colleague’s sentiments, saying he only learned of the uranium processing plant through media reports.

“Before the recent press coverage, how many of you knew about this site? Raise your hand,” Schein asked the audience.

The vast majority had no idea that the company manufactured uranium.

“This is a major concern. This is a changing community. Its history is industrial, but more and more people are moving in. People expect to be a part of the conversation,” he said. “We’re happy this conversation is happening now, but it should have happened sooner.”

Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo said she has been fielding calls from her constituents as well.

“I, like others, didn’t know. I’m appalled this facility exists,” said DiNovo. “No level of radiation is safe. Have a rousing meeting and shut it down.”

Davenport Councillor Cesar Palacio called on GE and federal agencies for “a level of transparency.”

“They need to engage the community with factual information,” he said.

Trent University student and Davenport native Zach Ruiter, who took on GE’s sister plant in Peterborough, was the first to raise awareness of the Davenport-area plant. “Keeping people in the dark is a pattern for GE,” he said.

SAGE’s Brady, who came in from Peterborough for the meeting, encouraged the Davenport community to band together to put pressure on the corporation to shut it down.
“They don’t care about the effects on residents because the effects don’t come to light for years and years,” he said, calling on everyone to pressure the city and the province. “Go, find out what GE has not told you. It’ll be amazing what you find out. Keep politicians on the case. Don’t give up. Safety is not short term. Safety is forever.”

TEA’s Marshall commended everyone for attending Thursday’s meeting. In 2008, city council voted for a precedent-setting toxics disclosure policy, the community’s right-to-know bylaw. Toronto became the first city that would require businesses – from dry cleaners to funeral homes and auto-body repair shops – to reveal their discharges of 25 priority chemicals, said Marshall. The problem is, uranium is not on this list, she said. However, there is an opportunity for Toronto Public Health to conduct studies.

“Ask Toronto Public Health for help. It’s worth a try,” she said.

Throughout the meeting, organizers collected written questions from the community. Because of time restraints, the questions could not be addressed that night, however, organizer Dawn Withers stressed that Thursday’s meeting was only the start of the dialogue surrounding GE. “We will stay in contact with you,” she assured.

GE-Hitachi officials opened the doors to the media for a tour of the processing plant earlier this week.

“Frankly, nothing has gone wrong in 50 years,” said spokesperson Christopher White during the tour of the manufacturing plant. “This is a very safe facility.”

He added GE-Hitachi produces 25 per cent of Ontario’s electricity.

As originally published here: http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/1315304-large-crowd-calls-for-closure-of-uranium-plant/

2012-11-16 Large crowd calls for closure of uranium plant - InsideToronto.pdf335.77 KB

Report: Leaping to 80%

Leaping to 80: A Plan for City Hall to Help Torontonians Divert More Waste

November 2012  

Executive Summary

In 2000, City Council set a residential waste diversion target of 100% by 2010. In 2007, the target was revised to 70% by 2010. As we approach 2013, the city is stalled at a disappointing 50%.

The good news is that Torontonians love diverting waste. When given the right tools — like green bins and blue bins — they actively participate in sorting products and doing their part to make sure as little waste as possible goes to landfill.

The bad news is that not everyone has the tools to divert waste from landfill. Roughly half of Toronto residents live in multi-residential buildings, and very few of them have access to blue bins and green bins at home.

The news is even worse outside the home: few schools and shopping malls have blue bin and green bin services. At the workplace (including offices, manufacturing, and construction) most waste ends up going straight to landfill. That’s why the provincial waste diversion rate for the industrial, commercial and institutional sector (IC&I) is a shameful 13%.

This report explains why waste diversion is the best environmental, economic, and financial approach to dealing with our garbage. It notes that waste diversion creates 7 jobs for every 1,000 tonnes of waste diverted in Ontario, versus 1 job for the same amount of waste disposed (in landfill or incinerator). It shows how waste diversion avoids the significant environmental and financial problems associated with landfills and incinerators. The report also provides an overview of how Toronto’s residential waste diversion system works and is funded. 

Most importantly, the report identifies key actions the City can take to help Torontonians divert more waste:

  • · Get Green Bins into all multi-residential buildings by the end of 2013.
  • · Build the facilities needed to divert Toronto's waste.
  • · Target commercial and non-residential waste diversion.
  • · Support diversion with strong policy at the City and Provincial level.

Combined, these actions will improve Toronto’s residential waste diversion rate beyond 70%, to over 80%. With new tools to help Torontonians divert waste outside the home at businesses, work and school, Toronto’s diversion of waste from landfill will be even better. These actions will also create an additional 1,800 green jobs, mostly in Toronto.

Financially, these actions will require new investments in waste diversion programs, education, and infrastructure. Annualized, new capital costs will be in the range of $15 million per year. New operating costs will be around $6.8 million per year. However, the environmental benefit, green jobs benefit, and long-term cost savings on disposal offset these costs. In addition, as provincial waste policy progresses, money will be saved by reducing the public subsidy to companies whose products end up in the municipal waste, by having them pay their way.

In short, this report explains why and how City Hall should help Torontonians continue their love affair with waste diversion.


Download the full report here:

Leaping to 80: A Plan for City Hall to Help Torontonians Divert More Waste

TEA Report - Leaping to 80.pdf316.21 KB

Toronto businesses support ChemTRAC

There is a lot of greening to do in Toronto's institutional, commercial and industrial sectors, but some companies have already committed to pollution prevention and are strong supporters of the ChemTRAC program.

Here are a number of great statements we've collected from local businesses that not only support the Environmental Reporting and Disclosure by-law in Toronto and the ChemTRAC reporting program, they've already taken steps to improve their business practices for the sake of our health, the environment and their bottom line!

Calstone Inc.
"Calstone has been a supporter of the ChemTRAC program and Toronto's toxic emissions reduction program from the very beginning. We always have been open about the chemicals we use in our manufacturing facility as we at Calstone believe that it is our duty as manufacturers to minimize the chemical output of our plant. We were using trichloroethylene in our Vapour Degreaser but have switched to a more environmentally friendly soap based solvent, TechKleen NPB. Techkleen NPB has a much lower atmospheric lifetime than other harmful chemicals and almost zero global warming potential. Calstone will be switching to a water base paint in the near future to further rid the plant of harmful toxins. Calstone congratulates the City of Toronto on the first year of their program and encourages other manufacturers to learn about the chemicals used in their production and work with ChemTRAC to reduce or eliminate them".
- Jim Ecclestone, President and Owner of Calstone, a family owned furniture manufacturer in Scarborough.

Steam Whistle Breweries
“Steam Whistle is proud to be able to report Zero Emissions through
the City of Toronto’s ChemTRAC program. We have always been an
environmentally-minded organization but this new disclosure by-law which
we voluntarily participate in, encouraged us to go beyond some of our
larger green initiatives on water & energy consumption and waste
creation, to examine every kind of cleaning agent we were using. We
abandoned some brewing industry solvents and went back to shining tanks
with vinegar and we removed all phosphates from our bottle washing
process. These actions have had a positive impact on the cleanliness of
the waste water exiting our operations.  Whether businesses/industry
fall in the ‘Required to Report’ or ‘Voluntary’ category, participation
in the ChemTRAC program provides an opportunity to clean up operations
and be environmental leaders.”

- Greg Taylor, Co-founder of Steam Whistle Brewing

Thistle Printing Ltd.
“As an environmental and health & safety proactive company, Thistle Printing constantly endeavours to reduce impacts to both our working environment and the natural environment. To this end we have actively participated in the Toronto Region Sustainability Program. Thistle Printing has twice conducted a 3rd party multi media Pollution Prevention (P2) Assessment in recent years and successfully followed the recommendations. At a minimum our policy is to maintain compliance with all applicable regulations and bylaws. As with Toronto’s Sewer Bylaw Chapter 681, requiring a P2 Plan for specified subject pollutants, ChemTRAC allows us to be aware of key toxic substances. These can then be assessed as to applicability in our workplace and target reduction or elimination if they exist. Not only has this process helped our environmental and community goals it has reduced waste and costs.”
- Bryan Hockaday, V.P & General Manager of Thistle Printing Limited

Eco Cleaners
“ChemTRAC not only empowers consumers to make safer, healthier choices but it also encourages businesses to do better. As a business that offers toxic free dry cleaning, being green is not only the right decision, it’s the logical business decision. As consumer awareness grows of the impact of the goods and services they buy on the environment and their health, being green is no longer a lifestyle choice but has become a choice for life. As a consumer and resident of this great city, I am proud of our city for giving me the choice and knowledge to make healthier, greener decisions for me and my family.”
- Tim Yoo, Eco Cleaners

C.J. Graphics Inc.
"C.J. Graphics Inc. Group of Companies has been, and will continue to be, an avid supporter of the Toronto ChemTRAC initiative... We have drastically reduced our dependence on toxic chemicals and have replaced them with ecologically sound alternatives. We are consistently below the parameters required for any of the monitored substances."
- Jay Mandarino, President, G.J. Graphic Inc. Printers and Lithographers
Read more of their statement, submitted to the Board of Health in support of the ChemTRAC program (May 29, 2012).

Back in 2008, when the Environmental Reporting and Disclosure by-law was passed by City Council, a number of businesses, labour groups, health associations and environmental organizations provided statements to show their support. Read the Community Right to Know by-law support statements from 2008.


Scarborough deserves rapid transit now!

July 2013 Update:

TEA Transit Statement

Transit expansion plans for Scarborough are once again up in the air. This is very unfortunate given how urgently Scarborough residents need new rapid transit lines that are integrated into a city-wide network.

TEA has been calling for rapid transit expansion into Scarborough for over 16 years. We support the Light Rail Transit (LRT) plan adopted by Council in early 2012 and are open to improving new service to Scarborough as long as the improvements are funded (through new tax dollars not already earmarked to existing transit expansion plans) and won’t add unnecessary delays to getting the new lines operating.

On Wednesday July 18th 2013, Toronto City Council agreed to move forward with a new subway line, after a heated debate on the merits and drawbacks of the LRT and subway options (see the City staff report, especially pages 15-17).

Councillors supporting subways as well as Councillors supporting LRTs had compelling arguments about why their preferred option was better for transit users travelling to and within Scarborough. While they differed on subways or LRTs, almost all Councillors agreed a switch to a subway should only happen if the province and federal governments contributed to the higher costs of the subway and only if no money was taken from the other rapid transit expansion plan for Scarborough, the Sheppard LRT.

To date, it’s unclear whether these conditions will be met. The longer this uncertainty continues, the more likely it is that transit expansion slated for Scarborough will be delayed and possibly not happen. This is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, it looks increasingly as if Scarborough transit expansion has become a political football used to get votes instead of getting the transit built that Scarborough residents deserve.  This is a recipe for exactly the sort of delays we can’t afford.

TEA will continue calling on all governments to move quickly to get more and better rapid transit into Scarborough. The Sheppard LRT must be built as soon as possible. The Scarborough RT must be replaced and it must happen as soon as possible, either with a new subway or LRT. Both options will serve Scarborough well.  Now we need governments to decide quickly which one to move forward with. Because transit users in Scarborough and the rest of Toronto deserve better transit, now.

Recent history of actions for rapid transit in Scarborough:

On March 21st 2012, City Council voted on how long people in Scarborough will remain stuck on a bus. The choice couldn’t be simpler: a Light Rapid Transit line that is fully funded and can be finished in 4 years, or the promise of subways without a plan, without any money, which will guarantee that people will be stuck on crowded buses for decades to come. 

To help Torontonians learn more about what’s at stake, TEA created a flyer to summarize the key issues.


Learn more on TEA's Public Transit campaign page.