October 2, 2014, 11:05 AM
Digital Writer, theweathernetwork.com
Municipal election month has finally arrived and on October 27, 2014 Torontonians will choose a new mayor to lead the City for the next four years. But who among the frontrunners will take the city in the greenest direction?
The not-for-profit organization Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) has been urging City Council to invest in the environment and offers some ideas in their Green Action Agenda. In June, they issued a report card evaluating how the current Council members voted on key environmental issues. As TEA describes it, the 2010-14 term was “a battle between those who wanted to preserve green programs and those who wanted to dismantle them.” In the end 17 Councillors received an A+, 16 an F (mayoral candidate Doug Ford among them), while the others fell somewhere in between.
The fate of the City’s environmental policies and services falls on the new mayor. Last week two candidates – Olivia Chow and John Tory - were asked about their green vision at a sold-out TEA-hosted debate. (Mr. Ford declined the invitation).
Questions touched on all facets of the environment and the answers on how the candidates would take action were sometimes less definitive. Here are some ways the mayoral hopefuls would build a greener Toronto for all.
On increasing the tree canopy, both candidates have a tree plan. Ms. Chow proposes planting about 100,000 trees with fees paid by polluting businesses. Mr. Tory’s 28 in 10 plan would increase the tree-planting budget and aim to see 3.8 million more trees over the next decade.
Municipalities across Ontario and Canada are doing better at waste diversion than Toronto. The City’s current diversion target is 70 per cent (now at 53 per cent) and Mr. Tory and Ms. Chow aim to deliver the same waste disposal access to the multi-unit residential buildings, which sit at only 25.8 per cent.
Some differences lie when talk turns to improving the air quality. Efforts by both camps rely on removing congestion on the roads. (You can compare Mr. Tory’s SmartTrack and Ms. Chow’s Transit Plan). On biking infrastructure, Ms. Chow promises 200 km of new bike lanes and Tory focuses on providing “safer, separated bike lanes in sensible locations.”
The topic of air quality improvement brought out the candidates’ positions on the expansion of commercial air service at Billy Bishop Airport. Ms. Chow takes a clear stance on No Jets on the Waterfront. Mr. Tory sides with the current Council’s decision to wait for further information before moving forward either way. You can revisit this discussion, their stances on Line 9, the Enbridge pipeline that will transport Alberta crude east through Toronto, as well as comments from other candidates and citizens in these clips captured by debate media sponsor NOW Magazine.
Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) Mayoral Debate from NOW Magazine on Vimeo.
Want to delve deeper in green? Mr. Tory’s environmental policy was posted on his campaign website last week. You can also visit Ms. Chow’s platforms and Mr. Ford’s stand online.
Find out how you fit into Toronto’s political landscape and compare with the three frontrunners through Vote Compass.