Don Adams, Severe Weather; S. Wineland, Trees and Transit

Green Action Agenda Details

Imagine what happens if you keep putting off investing in your child’s education, home repairs and your retirement. Eventually, the repair bills will be huge and you won’t have the money you need to send your child to university and retire. 
By putting off investing, you pretty well guarantee huge financial problems in the future.

Unfortunately, City Hall keeps putting off investing in our environment, even though these investments are key to a good quality of life and economic prosperity, now and in the future.

It’s time City Hall invested to avoid the ever growing cost of inaction.

The five points in TEA's Green Action Agenda are priority actions that must be taken over the next four years. They are the minimum investments we have to make to build a greener city for all, especially for the children who will inherit it.

How do we prepare for severe weather and climate change?

Green Action Agenda Item 1

We need to start investing now to get our city ready for the severe weather events, like floods and ice storms, that climate change will bring.

Every year of inaction will only increase the costs we pay to deal with climate change.

Actions Council must take:

Action Summary

  • expand our tree canopy
  • calculate the cost of climate change
  • implement a plan of action

Action Details

  • By February 2015,
  1. provide the authority and funds necessary to properly enforce the city’s tree bylaws by end of 2015 and
  2. dedicate the funds required to double tree planting and maintenance (from 2014 levels) by end of 2018, with  a commitment to increase planting and maintenance by 25% every year.  

Trees are nature’s way of cleaning the air, absorbing water and cooling us. And they are beautiful.

City Council made a decision to stop further improvements to our tree canopy in 2012. That bad decision came back to haunt us with the December ice storm.

It’s time the City invested again in the trees which do so much for us.

  • By Fall 2015, complete a comprehensive study of the estimated costs over the next 20 years to City Hall, Toronto residents and city-based businesses that climate change (including severe weather events) will bring.

The storms of 2013 made it clear that severe weather events have a huge cost to Toronto residents, businesses and City Hall.

Climate change will bring more of these expensive weather events.

Torontonians need to know now what the costs of climate change will be if we continue with “business as usual,” so that we can better understand how investing now will save us lots more in the future.

  • By April 2016, adopt a comprehensive, costed action plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and getting city infrastructure ready for more severe weather events that climate change will bring.

The July flood and December ice storm made it clear that Toronto is not ready for climate change.

Lots of research has been done about what cities can do and are doing to get ready.

We need a specific action plan that sets out exactly what our City Hall must do to get our infrastructure ready.

This plan will be Council’s “to do” list and help Torontonians measure progress.


  • expand our tree canopy
  • calculate the cost of climate change
  • implement a plan of action

How can we Improve Air Quality?

Every year about 1,300 people die prematurely in Toronto because of bad air quality.

Another 3,550 end up in hospitals.

Over 280 of the deaths are due to vehicle emissions.

Actions Council must take:

  • Stop any expansion of the Billy Bishop Airport.

Our waterfront is already polluted enough.

The families that live there don’t need more vehicle traffic and more planes in the skies above.

We must reduce, not add to, the air pollution along our waterfront.

  • By 2016 have an air quality monitoring strategy in place.

The strategy must include monitoring equipment to analyze highway and local community conditions, as well as a public information system.

By measuring local air quality, residents, businesses and City staff can make informed decisions to manage pollution sources and protect health.

New technologies exist that allow for portable air monitoring and for posting these results online.

City Hall should give local neighbourhood groups the resources required to know their local air quality.

We need to make it as easy as possible for people to keep their cars at home.Building a Toronto that Moves includes 12 actions City Hall can take to help Torontonians cycle, walk and take public transit.


  • better air monitoring
  • stop island airport expansion
  • adopt actions to help us leave our cars at home

How do we improve the TTC?

We need to invest in affordable fares and better service. This will improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and congestion as people keep their cars at home and use the more convenient TTC.

Actions Council must take:

  • Freeze fares for 4 years.

TTC riders pay almost three-quarters (73%) of the TTC’s operating costs, a higher percentage than riders in any other comparable city in North America.

Riders used to pay 60% of the costs, with the remaining 40% shared equally by the City and Province.

For this to happen again, the Province must help.

But City Council must do its part and stop the constant fare increases, at least for the next 4 years.

It’s time people got rewarded, not penalized, for using the Better Way

Improve TTC service levels annually.

Over the past 4 years TTC service has worsened as ridership has gone up faster than new service is added.

We should be rewarding people who use the TTC, not dooming them to more crowded vehicles and less frequent service!

It’s time to turn this around and start improving TTC service across the city every year.


  • improve service
  • freeze fares

How can we reduce waste?

We need to cut Toronto’s waste drastically by investing in waste diversion.

Why? Because far too many materials that can be recycled and composted are being thrown away.

Reducing waste will not only help the environment, it will help the economy because diversion creates 7 times more jobs than disposal.

Surprisingly, some people are still thinking about burning or combusting waste even though it’s bad for the environment, extremely expensive and creates fewer jobs.

It’s time City Hall invested wisely in waste diversion to help the environment and create jobs.


Actions Council Must Take:

  • By September 2015

Adopt a long term waste strategy that includes a 90% waste diversion target by 2020 and excludes any disposal option that combusts waste.

Municipalities across Ontario and Canada are doing better at waste diversion than Toronto.

We’ve missed our current diversion target of 70% and are stuck at 53%.

It’s time Council committed to a new target of 90% by 2020.

It’s time Toronto had a plan that pushes us towards the waste free future many other cities are aiming at.

And we must avoid locking Toronto into costly long-term incineration contracts that will mean fewer resources and less funding for more effective waste diversion programs.

  • By Fall 2015

Consider a city-wide policy that insures all Toronto residents and businesses have access to the same diversion services (e.g. green bin and blue bin), no matter where they live or who provides the services.

Depending on where you live, work and shop you may or may not have access to the same recycling, green bin and composting services.

Many residents still don't have good green bin service at home.

Most people don't have them at work or in public spaces.

It’s time the City took a leadership role and required all Toronto residents and businesses to divert waste.

  • By February 2015

Commit to a major green bin and recycling evaluation program for multi-residential buildings to review the effectiveness of the green bin roll out and recycling education ads.

Apartment and condo residents still don’t have equal access to green bins and blue bins.

While all buildings have blue bins, recycling rates at apartments are much lower than in houses.

We need to understand the barriers.

We also need to measure the impact of the 2013 green bin roll out.

Toronto waste staff worked hard to double the number of buildings with green bins, but we don’t know if they’ve had an impact.


  • adopt new waste diversion targets and actions
  • give everyone access to all diversion options

How can we detox Toronto?

We need to invest in actions that reduce the chemicals that surround us and harm our health. Thanks to Toronto’s unique ChemTRAC Program, we know where and why harmful chemicals are posing environmental health risks.

Now, Toronto needs to develop a plan to manage these toxic chemicals.

Actions Council must take:

  • By the end of 2015:

Add Chemicals of Emerging Concern (CECs) to the Sewers By-law.

Toronto has successfully reduced some chemicals that harm Lake Ontario, but our water continues to face new threats due to increasing amounts of pharmaceutical and product ingredients like triclosan and flame retardants. With emerging substances added to the by-law, Toronto Water will be required to monitor them and pollution prevention plans can be developed.

  • By the end of 2015:

Have a toxics reduction strategy in place to phase out at least two priority carcinogenic substances in Toronto.

These priority substances will be based on known health risks and market access to viable non-toxic alternatives.

The City of Toronto is well positioned to develop a strategy based on the extensive research and chemical data collected by Toronto Public Health, Toronto Water, and the Environment & Energy Division.

  • In 2016:

The Economic Development and Culture Division improves business retention and competitiveness of Toronto companies by offering new services to help companies manage their operational wastes and climate change risks.

Operational wastes include energy, fuel, water, raw materials, and by-products like chemical emissions and solid waste.

With assistance, Toronto companies can prevent pollution, improve transportation logistics, cut costs, increase revenues, manage risk and enhance their ability to compete in the new economy.


  • monitor toxics in our sewers
  • phase out carcinogens in our air
  • support Toronto businesses to become cleaner and greener