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Campaign Initiatives

Saving Energy in Ottawa - A Tenant Action Workshop

Where:  Ellwood Hall, Jim Durrell Complex, 1265 Walkley Rd., Ottawa
Date:  Thursday, October 9th, 2008
Time: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Register now at www.torontoenvironment.org/workshops

Who is this workshop for?

  • Active tenants living in apartment buildings
  • Neighbourhood and community groups working with or for tenants
  • People looking to find new ways to save energy in their apartment building
  • Environmental organizations that want to learn about a tenant-led energy conservation model

What can you expect?

This will be a free full-day workshop run by the Toronto Environmental
Alliance (TEA), a Low Income Energy Network steering committee member,
and hosted by the Nepean Rideau Osgoode Community Resource Centre
(NROCRC). The workshop lays out the steps to help tenants start a
custom-made energy saving program in their own apartment building.

At the workshop, you will:

  • Get inspired by real-life examples of how tenants have successfully run their own energy conservation programs.
  • Learn step-by-step how you could kick-start your own energy conservation program.
  • Collect ideas, advice, tools, and resources to help you along the way.
  • Participate in breakout sessions and activities.
  • Relate what you’ve been learning to your own neighbourhood.
  • Network with fellow tenant advocates and activists.

Why should you attend?

  • It’s free and you’ll have a chance to talk with other tenant advocates
  • You’ll feel refreshed and motivated to try out some new ways to bring tenants together and take action on an important issue.
  • You’ll gain an impressive ‘tool kit’ to kick start energy conservation activities in your neighbourhood
  • What you learn at the workshop can be used time and time again to take action on other neighbourhood concerns

Register quickly and easily by filling out the online form at:  www.torontoenvironment.org/workshops 

Please register by Monday, October 6th, 2008.

There is no registration fee for the conferences and lunch will be provided, but we ask that you register as soon as possible so that we can order the food.

The Jim Durrell Complex is located at 1265 Walkley Road.  The nearest major intersection is Bank Street and Walkley Road.  The workshop will be held in Ellwood Hall, which is located on the main floor.

In keeping with the theme of the conference, if feasible, organizers would encourage the use of public transit or car pooling. There is free parking available and there are a number of bus transit routes that stop at this location.  Please visit the OC Transpo website for more information.

For more information (including parking and accommodation in the area) contact:
Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN)
c/o Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)
425 Adelaide St. West, 5th floor
Toronto, ON  M5V 3C1
Tel: 416-597-5855 ext. 5167
Toll-free: 1-866-245-4182 ext. 5167
Fax: 416-597-5821
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.lowincomeenergy.ca



With support provided by the Community Go Green Fund


Local & Sustainable Food Procurement

On October 30th 2008, City Council unanimously adopted a local food procurement policy and implementation plan. Council adopted TEA’s suggested amendment and agreed to develop a plan to achieve an aggressive 50% local food purchasing target as soon as possible!  This means it is now the policy of the City to progressively increase the percentage of local food it buys for its daycares, shelters and seniors’ homes.

This is a huge step forward for the environment, for the Greenbelt and for Ontario’s farmers. This victory would not have been possible without the clear message sent by more than 2,000 Torontonians who signed our petition and postcards telling Councillors to Avoid Jet-Lagged Food and Buy Local First! Thanks to all of you for help with this important victory!

Here’s why this policy matters:

1. Local food doesn’t travel nearly as far as imports which dramatically reduce greenhouse gas and smog emissions from transportation.

2. Local food is fresher and tastes better because it’s harvested when it’s ripe rather than when it needs to be shipped.

3. Buying local food supports our farming neighbours; providing a market for their products helps the regional economy by keeping our dollars at home.

4. Strong local farms help preserve precious agricultural land in the Greenbelt and surrounding areas which we will increasingly rely on as the global food crisis deepens.

5. It will fulfill a key commitment made in the City’s unanimously adopted smog and climate change plan.

Such a simple action has so many benefits. In contrast, not buying local harms us by increasing our vulnerabity to: global warming, high energy costs, and heightened food insecurity as farmers in southern Ontario sell their land because they can’t make a living.

Check out what TEA and Torontonians did to ensure this policy was adopted and with an aggressive 50% local food purchasing target.

Saving Energy: The 6-Step Guide to Tenant Action



TEA has designed the first-ever guide to tenant-led energy conservation in Ontario. With the generous support of the Ontario Ministry of Environment Community Go Green Fund, this guide is a free downloadable resource for tenant organizers throughout Ontario!

Who is this guide for?
This guide is for tenant activists and advocacy groups who want to help tenants in their neighbourhood save energy and money. It aims to encourage tenant-led initiative in getting neighbourhoods organized and working towards common goals.

Goal of the guide
This guide provides a 6-step process to kick start tenant-run energy conservation activities in your neighbourhood. It offers a step-by-step approach to organizing and running neighbourhood efforts that will help reduce energy use in apartment buildings. Enabling tenants to run their own conservation program not only saves energy but strengthens our communities and inspires people to undertake further actions that can improve their lives.

What to expect

Each step in this guide begins with an overview of what key tasks are covered and a list of what you can expect to accomplish by the end of each Step. We provide you with key advice to help you carry out the various tasks required in each Step and also include examples and tips related to the tasks. Certain areas have more detailed information on the topic at the end of the guide in the Info & Ideas section.

Download your own copy of Saving Energy: The 6-Step Guide to Tenant Action (PDF)



Learn more about TEA's work to reduce energy consumption for low income tenants in Ontario [click here]

*This project has received funding support from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Such support does not indicate endorsement by the Ministry of the contents of this material.

With support provided by the Community Go Green Fund




SavingEnergy_6Step Guide to Tenant Action.pdf936.83 KB

Community Right to Know


In June 2012, Toronto's ChemTRAC program released the first of many phases of data on toxic substances used and released by businesses and institutions in Toronto. Read more about the data and the ChemTRAC program here.

In December 2008, Toronto City Council passed a Community Right to Know bylaw - officially called the Environmental Reporting and Disclosure by-law! Click here to read more about the by-law vote!

You have a right to know what toxic chemicals are in your community. But our governments allow too many polluters to hide their activities from the public:

  • Over 40,000 facilities in Toronto don't have to report annual pollution releases to the public.
  • Industrial use, production and, storage of chemicals goes on every day in our neighborhoods but no one has to tell us.

These toxic secrets hurt our communities:

  • Toronto's air is deadly - 1700 Toronto residents die prematurely from smog each year.
  • When you breathe Toronto's air, you risk inhaling at least 9 high-risk carcinogens.
  • Industrial spills and fires endanger our neighborhoods every year.
  • No one is tracking or monitoring the long-term health effects of all of this pollution. No one can tell us if we are safe.

A solution is in sight:

The City of Toronto gave the public the right to know what toxic chemicals are used, stored, and released in our city in 2008. A Community Right to Know Bylaw in Toronto will make our neighbourhoods safer:

  • Armed with information you and your politicians can make real choices about how to reduce your community's risk from toxic chemicals.
  • When industries come under public scrutiny they work harder to clean up their act. They find ways to stop using toxic chemicals reduce releases and prevent accidents.

For archived information on TEA's Community Right to Know campaign, see our Secrecy is Toxic webpage.

View the 'Toxics in Toronto' map and ward by ward tables of Federally-reported pollution releases from 2003 in Toronto.

TEA's CRTK Mailing list has been merged with TEA's CouncilWatch newsletter - click here to subscribe!

Locally Grown Culturally-Specific Food Guides

Interested in buying cultural food that is locally grown? Now, you have a way to find it!

In Fall 2009, TEA made it easier for Torontonians who are looking for fresh cultural foods ‘from back home’ to find retailers selling locally grown cultural food.


How? By developing the first-ever  locally-grown cultural food guides that identify the location of farmers, farmers’ markets and food retailers selling cultural food grown in the Greenbelt and surrounding area. We've started with four guides that help Torontonians buy locally grown food used for African/Caribbean, Chinese, Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine.

To find the markets and the stores for specific locally grown cultural food, click on the following links:


When you have a choice, cooking with cultural foods grown locally helps the environment, helps local farmers and is more nutritious than buying imported food. And it helps preserve our precious agricultural land, much of it in the Greenbelt.

TEA worked closely with many community partners who helped make these guides a reality. We would like to thank:

  • Chinese Canadian National Council, Toronto Chapter 
  • Council of Agencies Serving South Asians
  • FarmStart
  • Access Alliance
  • Centre for Information and Community Services
  • Doorsteps Neighborhood Services
  • Rexdale CHC
  • South Riverdale CHC
  • Thorncliffe Neighborhood Office  
  • Toronto Public Health/Peer Nutrition Program

We also want to especially thank the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation who provided the financial resources to make these guides a reality. 

Why eat Greenbelt-grown "Cultural Food"?

It’s fresh and flavourful and tastes like how you remember it tasted back home. The Greenbelt supplies an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit. Because it doesn’t need to be shipped long distances, produce can be harvested when it’s fully ripe and it tastes the way it should taste.

It protects our beautiful countryside and supports our farming neighbours. Many new Canadians moved to Toronto to enjoy the healthy, green countryside surrounding us. Buying Greenbelt-grown food directly supports local farmers and keeps our countryside healthy.

It creates local jobs for our communities. Buying Greenbelt-grown cultural food creates local jobs in agriculture and food processing. And who better to grow food from home than those who grew it back home?

It protects the environment. When you have the choice, buying Greenbelt-grown food in local markets means no airplane trips and less truck trips to deliver fresh, tasty food to our dinner plates. In contrast food from half way around the world, creates lots of pollution getting here.


Greenbelt Food From Home Guides in the media

Find local 'food from home' resources

Toronto Smog Hike

See pictures from the 2007 Smog hike here!

Today we walked from the lake all the way to Finch Avenue!
We put up 1,150 messages. We're continuing Monday
morning to put up the remaining 550.
click here for a great news clip from today's hike!


Yonge street. Starting at the bottom,
walking north for 1700 lamp posts.

1700 people die every year from smog related illnesses in Toronto.
Help us put a face to this number!

Sunday September 23rd 2007

Toronto Environmental Alliance
David Suzuki Foundation

the Toronto Smog Hike!

Help us illustrate the number 1700. Join us for a fun walk
to raise awareness about the toll of smog in Toronto.

We'll be attaching 1700 posters with individual
messages from Torontonians about smog.
Each lamp post will represent one annual death.
Join us for a couple of blocks, or a couple of days!

1700 posters •
1700 messages • 1700 lamp posts • 1 long hike



1) Morning exhibit of all 1700 posters. Sunday September 23, 10am to noon. At the Harbour Square Park (foot of Bay Street, beside the Ferry Terminal). TTC - The Harbourfront LRT drops you right at the park! Get off at Ferry Docks stop.

2) The Smog Hike! Join us for a few blocks or a few days! We leave at noon on Sunday, and we'll keep hiking until we've postered 1700 lamp posts. Could take awhile....
LOOKING FOR THE HIKE? Send a txt msg that says "wair r u?"to 416-88-WATER anytime on Sunday or Monday.

Send your silhouette choice (#1 thru 8) and a short sentence to: [email protected]

Are you coming to the hike? You can join our Facebook event page.

Two great events on one day! The Toronto Smog Hike and "Bells on Bloor" are working together to promote both events and coordinate our schedules. If you want to attend both events, you can come down to the smog posters exhibit at 10am, then head up to the bike parade for noon, and then meet up with the Smog Hike around 1pm. To find the hike send a txt message that says "WAIR R U" to 416-889-2837. We'll send you our exact location on Yonge Street!

Brahms Energy Saving Team

The Brahms Energy Saving Team:
Engaging Tenants in the Culture of Conservation

The Brahms Energy Saving Team (BEST) engages 800 tenants in 2 north-east Toronto apartment buildings (2 and 5 Brahms Avenue) to educate them about the need to save energy and to create a culture of conservation in the neighbourhood. The project is a partnership between the Toronto Environmental Alliance, Public Interest (a community development organization) and Toronto Community Housing, one of North America's largest social housing providers.

One of the keys to success for the project is Toronto Community Housing's significant investment into the buildings to improve overall energy use. This not only reduces energy consumption, but also demonstrates the commitment to save energy. Toronto Community Housing installed new appliances, including 400 new energy efficient fridges and stoves in apartments with older appliances and to clean, test and upgrade (by installing energy reflectors) all of the in-suite radiators.

To promote a culture of conservation amongst tenants, BEST has hired and trained six tenants from the buildings as community education and outreach workers (or Animators). The Animators help design and deliver an energy education program that engages their fellow tenants in their primary language (working in the four most commonly spoken languages English, Farsi, Somali, and Tamil) and in culturally appropriate ways. They have been going door-to-door in the buildings to raise awareness and distribute education materials such as pamphlets and fridge magnets (in the four main languages) that focus on seven simple things tenants can do to save energy. Animators have also been staffing display tables in the lobby, organizing events and giving away energy saving 'goodies' (compact fluorescent light bulbs and powerbars) as well as canvass tote bags and door stickers with the BEST logo to those who sign up for the Brahms Energy Saving Team.

The program has been very positively received by tenants, and as of early August 2005, over 75 percent of households were participating in BEST. As a community reward for achieving this high participation rate, BEST will be organizing a children's field trip to the Kortright Centre in August and a community barbecue/fun day in the Fall.

Blue Flag Program

Get Wet At Toronto's Cleanest Beaches

This summer Toronto has raised Blue Flags at its cleanest beaches - those have achieved high standards in water quality, public safety and the environment. These standards measure bacteria levels, like E.coli, and determine if the water is safe for swimming. Residents and tourists can be assured that our city beaches flying the Blue Flag meet these clean water standards for at least 80% of the summer.

In 2005, Blue Flags are flying at Cherry Beach, Woodbine Beach, Ward's Island Beach and Hanlan's Point.

In Canada the international Blue Flag Program is operated by Environmental Defence: www.BlueFlag.ca

Help Fly the Blue Flag

Volunteer at your favorite city beach.

Community-based efforts can revitalize all our beaches. Help monitor and report on the state of your community beach; education others on how to improve beach water quality; and, organize clean ups, nature walks and other events.

Call TEA at 416-596-0660.

Low-Income Energy Solutions

Rising energy prices can mean that some people will have to choose between eating, heating, and paying the rent. Energy conservation measures (like draft-proofing and more efficient furnaces or appliances) which meet people's energy needs while using less fuel are the fastest, cheapest, and cleanest solution to the challenge of energy poverty. But the up-front investments are often out of the reach of low-income households.

TEA believes that we can fight both poverty and pollution. That is why we helped to found the Low Income Energy Network (LIEN) in 2004 to raise awareness of implications for low-income families of increases in energy prices and to suggest solutions.

LIEN's mandate is to ensure universal access for all Ontarians to adequate energy  while minimizing the impacts on health and on the local and global environment. 

LIEN promotes programs and policies which tackle the problems of energy poverty and homelessness, which reduce Ontario's contribution to smog and climate change and promote a healthy economy through renewable and energy efficient technologies.

Working with other environmental anti-poverty and affordable housing groups we have proposed a comprehensive program (please see attachment below) that delivers energy conservation to low-income consumers which permanently reduces bills and pollution, provides bill payment support and emergency assistance to those who need it and educates consumers and policy makers on low-income energy issues.

Low_income_energy_conservation_assistance_0.pdf1.18 MB

Ridership Growth Strategy

TTC Plan Promises Better Service

After a decade of decline the TTC has developed a plan to improve transit in Toronto. On March 17th, 2003, the transit commission considered and approved a Ridership Growth Strategy.

The strategy represents a sharp and very positive departure from the days of cutting service and hiking fares (see our Transit's Lost Decade in the publications section for details)

The Ridership growth strategy also avoids the trap of glitzy mega-projects. Instead the plan focuses on the basics of better service where demand is highest, and freezing or even rolling fares back.

The catch, as always, is who pays. To date no government has offered to put up sufficient funds to cover existing costs, much less improved service, since transit funding was greatly reduced while Mike Harris was Premier.

The Plan lays out year by year how the TTC can ramp up service and improve fare policy. The City is asked to complement these measures with pro-transit measures adopted in the City's new Official Plan. Essentially these measures aim to increase the speed of buses in traffic through restrictions on left turns, traffic lights that respond to TTC vehicles, modest parking restrictions etc..

Year by Year Measures (as scheduled in the 2003 Ridership Growth Strategy)


  • Extra buses in the afternoon and evening on some of the busiest routes.
  • Cut the price of the senior and student pass.
  • Allow community colleges and universities to buy in bulk at a discount.
  • Better signal priority on some routes (hold green lights for transit vehicles).
  • Expand parking at some stations.


  • More "off-peak" improvements.
  • Cut the Metropass by $5.00/month.
  • More signal priority.
  • More parking.
  • Introduce a special student/senior daypass.
  • Make day passes good all day (they currently start at 9:30 am).
  • Improve capacity on the Scarborough RT (if the right equipment can bought).


  • Improve service on crowded rush hour routes.
  • More off peak improvements.
  • Transit only lanes on some busy routes.
  • $0.10 fare cut.
  • New weekly pass.

Over the course of 2007 and 2008 even more off peak service would be added. Perhaps the good old days of guaranteed seating at all times except rush hour and maximum waits of 20 minutes, even on Sundays, might return.

Only after all of this is in place would subway expansion be considered.

Finally, something to look forward to, and fight for.