Council Watch - November 2009

Ecobunk 2009, TEA on Transit, Two Big Steps Forward for Sustainable Energy in Toronto, Progress for Local Food at City Hall!

1. Ecobunk 2009
Our annual fundraiser comedy show pokes fun at the most outrageous corporate green advertising of 2009. Sometimes we even point the finger at ourselves.

We present nominated ads under different categories and reveal the winner. The laughter lasts for two full hours.

Come celebrate with us! Ecobunk is a popular and favourite event among the environmentally-minded in Toronto, Hamilton, Waterloo and points beyond.


2. TEA on Transit
At Tuesday's (November 17, 2009) TTC meeting, the Commission approved the largest single transit fare increase since amalgamation. This sad reality brought a number of transit riders and media to Council Chamber for the meeting. TEA's Katrina Miller was one of many deputants at the meeting. TEA was successful in having our two suggested motions adopted, with slight amendments, by the commission. They were:

That the Commission commit to working with the City and the Province on a long-term funding plan that achieves the following:

  • A return to a minimum 50/50 cost share of the TTC operating budget subsidy between the Province and the City.
  • A fare box ratio of 60% by 2015. This target strives to move the fare box ratio closer to the North American average rather than North America’s highest ratio.
  • A detailed explanation of how a new funding plan will support the service improvements and standards established by the Official Plan, the Ridership Growth Strategy, and the Transit City plan.
  • A five year forecast of expected fare increases.

And that the Commission:

Direct staff to consider and report back on possible options and costs for extending the discount fare program to riders that are underemployed and on social assistance for discussion during the 2010 Operating Budget process.

The only other bright spot at the meeting was the extension of the high school Student MetroPass fare discount to students in colleges and universities. The Canadian Federation of Students did a superb job and should be commended for winning this important victory for all students in Toronto. 

3. Two Big Steps Forward for Sustainable Energy in Toronto

On October 27th, Toronto Hydro finally got approval from the Province to install a wind measuring device in Lake Ontario, 1.2 km off shore. The device will collect data for about two years and will help Toronto Hydro determine whether there is enough wind to propose an offshore wind project that could provide Torontonians with renewable power.

On November 2, the City's Executive Committee adopted a new Sustainable Energy Strategy that will finally see real action on energy conservation and renewable power installation. The Strategy includes a proposed partnership with the City, Toronto Hydro and Enbridge Gas to deliver energy retrofits, water conservation and green power installations to homes and businesses across the City. This would see significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, savings to consumers, and lots of economic activity supporting green jobs. TEA also convinced the Executive Committee to promote local green jobs and manufacturing by adopting our recommendations that will give a priority to local businesses and workers who produce the products required for implementation of the Strategy.

4. Progress for Local Food at City Hall

Some of TEA's hard work on local food procurement paid off at Monday's Government Management Committee meeting. With the help of Councillor McConnell and Councillor Heaps, the committee directed the General Managers of City Divisions (Children's Services, Long Term Care Homes and Services, Hostel Services, Facilities and Real Estate and Parks, Forestry and Recreation), to develop implementation strategies, including timelines and potential financial and operational implications for achieving Council's 50% local food purchasing target.

This will lead to a significant investment (millions of dollars) for local farmers and food producers; not to mention a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from trucking food from around the world. TEA will continue to monitor the progress of the Local Food Procurement Policy and we encourage TEA members to speak with your Councillors about the importance buying local food.