Cutting Environmental Services Won’t Save City Money

For Immediate Release
September 13, 2011

Toronto: Cuts to key environmental services announced yesterday, including Community Environment Days, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund and the Toronto Environment Office, will do nothing to reduce the so-called “spending problem” Mayor Ford uses to justify the cuts, says a local environment group.

“Cutting Community Environment Days will do nothing to lower the city’s operating budget since the minimal costs to hold the days are covered by garbage fees, not property taxes,” says Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA).

In 2009, over 40,000 people attended Community Environment Days in every ward in the city. Residents drop-off household hazardous waste, electronic waste and items that can be reused or donated to charities as well as pick up compost from the city’s own Green Bin program. The Community Environment Days also provide an opportunity for residents to pick-up or replace waste containers, buy rain barrels and low-cost water efficiency kits.

“In fact cutting Community Environment Days may end up increasing garbage fees,” says Hartmann. By getting rid of Community Environment Days, the city loses revenue from the private sector for collecting household hazardous waste and electronic waste. As well, the city will have new costs to send out crews to replace broken recycling and waste containers at residents’ homes rather than residents doing it themselves at Community Environment Days.

Hartmann also noted that getting rid of another popular environmental service, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) won’t save taxpayers a penny. “The Toronto Atmospheric Fund doesn’t rely on any city dollars to operate,” says Hartmann. “In fact, TAF has helped save the city over $50 million by using its endowment to finance energy efficiency and clean air programs.”

Hartmann also noted that eliminating the Toronto Environment Office, the city’s equivalent to the Ministry of Environment, makes no financial sense. “Somebody at the city will have to coordinate environmental efforts at City Hall if the Toronto Environment Office is cut so I don’t see where there are any savings.”

Hartmann questioned the motives behind the proposed cuts to environmental services. “Given that taxpayers don’t save any money from cutting these environmental services, it makes you wonder why they are on the chopping block.”

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For more information:
Franz Hartmann, Executive Director, Toronto Environmental Alliance