EX 10.13 City of Toronto Declaration

EX 10.13 City of Toronto Declaration. Right to a Healthy Environment.

On December 1st 2015, Franz Hartmann, TEA's Executive Director, delivered a deputation at City Hall to Major John Tory about the Right to a Healthy Environment. Below is a copy of the deputation he delivered.

Photo courtesy of Angela Tran

Executive Committee Deputation on Right to a Healthy Environment

On behalf of our 55,000 supporters, TEA urges the Mayor and other members of the Executive Committee to adopt the staff recommendations including adopting the “City of Toronto Declaration – The Right To A Healthy Environment”.

As the staff report notes, this declaration will not expose the City to any additional legal risk nor have any financial impact.

So, you might ask, why should the Executive Committee and Toronto City Council adopt a Declaration that is largely symbolic?

Because symbols are extremely powerful, especially when our Mayor is about to go to Paris and wants to show world leaders and citizens of the world that Toronto takes environmental issues seriously.

And because the City of Toronto has never said to its residents:

You have: a right to breathe clean air; a right to drink clean water; a right to access safe and healthy food; a right to access nature; a right to know about pollutants and contaminants released into Toronto’s environment; and a right to participate in decision-making that will affect their environment.

These rights will not carry the same legal weight as the rights covered by Canada’s constitution, but they are as important to the future and the security of our city and our country as our constitutional rights.

Think about it. Without clean drinking water, without access to safe and healthy food, without clean air, people can’t survive, let alone thrive.

A healthy environment is as important to our city, province and country as a foundation is to a building.

Toronto needs to proudly acknowledge this reality, especially days before our Mayor goes to arguably the most important environmental summit we have ever seen. While this summit is specifically about climate change, fundamentally it is world leaders, business leaders and civil society leaders coming together and recognizing that a healthy environment is the foundation of a vibrant economy and a healthy lifestyle.

Scientists, politicians and business leaders increasingly acknowledge that harming our environment is no longer an option. There is an emerging understanding that not protecting our environment -specifically, not curbing carbon emissions that cause severe weather events, flooding and air pollution- will have huge financial, environmental and social costs. Put simply, the cost of inaction is dramatically greater than the cost of action.

And world leaders are realizing that creating a global society that protects the environment and our environmental rights by building a low carbon economy is a huge job generator, will improve our health (which means lower healthcare costs) and make for a happier life.

Let me cite a local example to prove this point about the cost of inaction. Remember back to the July 2013 flood and December 2013 ice storm. These are two examples of the type of severe weather events climate change will bring. Those two events alone cost Torontonians over $1.3 billion in property damage, insurance claims, and government overtime. That was the equivalent to a 51% one time residential property tax increase in 2014!!

In other words, if we do not act and prepare our city for severe weather events and reduce carbon emissions, the $1.3 billion we lost in 2013 will be a small taste of what we will have to pay if we don’t start protecting our environmental rights.

So, acknowledging the right to a healthy environment -as the Declaration in front of you does- is simply acknowledging an important reality: we must protect our environment if we want our city to survive and thrive.

Finally, I want address Mayor Tory directly: Torontonians support actions by you and City Council that will help turn our right to a healthy environment into real actions.

Over the past year, TEA has been collecting over 4,238 letters from Toronto residents addressed to you. Their message to you is very simple: fulfill your campaign promises and improve public transit, reduce waste and toxics, improve air quality and get the city ready for climate change.

You, Mr. Mayor, publicly supported a number of key actions to support a healthy environment. Torontonians support a right to a healthy environment. They join the countless other Canadians and growing list of municipal government, who, thanks to the David Suzuki Foundation, have expressed their support for the right to a healthy environment.

So I urge you and Members of this Committee to support the staff recommendations and adopt the Right to Healthy Environment Declaration.

Please, send a clear signal to Torontonians, to world leaders in Paris, and to the other citizens of our planet that Toronto City Hall understands the importance of recognizing our right to a healthy environment. Signal the world that Toronto is ready to join the global effort to unlock the incredible economic prosperity and happy and healthy lives that will flow by taking care of our environment.

-Franz Hartmann