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CouncilWatch - April 27 2007

Help TEA "Jump Start" Quick Action on Smog and Climate Change

Moments ago, TEA released a report called "Quick Action on Smog and Climate Change" which contains 5 priority areas the City must act on to curb global warming and smog (see below).

This Sunday, the City will hold its first public forum to get input on the City's Climate Change and Smog Action Plan. TEA will be there urging immediate action on these priority areas.

We're asking you to join us at this important forum to reinforce our message and add your voice for urgent action. Go to www.toronto.ca/environment to pre-register. If you can't make it on Sunday, please submit comments by email here no later than May 2nd.

Whichever way you participate, we urge TEA members to push for the Quick Actions outlined in the report below:

Quick Action to Clean the Air
A Report by Toronto Environmental Alliance

Torontonians will have a chance starting on Sunday to tell City officials what actions to take to curb global warming and cut smog pollutants. The Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) hopes Torontonians will support the targets and 27 ideas in the Mayor's Change is in the Air document.
But Torontonians need to let City officials know we need immediate action on key items. That's why we urge Torontonians to attend the city consultations and tell City officials to move quickly in the following 5 areas:

1. Find the Bucks for Transit City.

TTC staff to report to City Council by the Fall 2007 outlining funding options for Transit City. Options should include 'going it alone' as
well as partnering with other orders of government.

Over 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from burning gasoline. And almost all of that is burned in cars people use to get around. We need to get people out of their cars and on to the TTC. For this to happen, we need to implement the TTC's Transit City, a network of dedicated transit routes that covers the entire city.

The big stumbling block to Transit City is money. That's why the City must immediately begin developing a funding strategy. With this strategy in place, the City can start implementing Transit City.

2. Implement energy efficiency practices in city buildings.

Action: Get the City to install automatic switching systems that turn off lights and turn down A/C in all city-owned buildings.

Currently, most city buildings don't have automatic controls that allow for lights to be turned off and air conditioners to be turned lower when they're not needed. This means we're wasting money buying smog producing electricity that is being used for nothing. If City Hall wants Torontonians to reduce energy use, the City must lead by example and immediately install automatic controls for electrical equipment in all its buildings.

3. Cut City red tape that stops Green Power development.

Action: Get the City to pass a bylaw by Fall 2007 that encourages instead of discourages installation of renewable energy technologies (eg. solar
hot water heaters, solar panels, and ground source heat pumps).

Green power must replace fossil fuels if we want to cut smog pollution and greenhouse gases. For this to happen, Torontonians have to become green power producers, not just consumers. City Hall needs to encourage Torontonians to buy and install renewable energy technologies to replace our reliance on fossil fuels and other toxic power sources. Unfortunately, there are city bylaws in place that make it very difficult for homeowners, developers and businesses to install renewable energy technologies. Current permitting bylaws (eg. building code and zoning) add unnecessary red tape to Torontonians wanting to install renewable energy technologies. The City must change these bylaws to encourage -not discourage- Torontonians from developing green power.

4. Pass a Community Right to Know Bylaw.

Action: Direct City staff to have a Community Right to Know bylaw in front of City Council for adoption by December 2007.

Earlier this week the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario released a report showing that 90% of regulated polluters are not following the rules and that 40% of polluters don't even have a permit to pollute. The Province is failing to protect our air from industrial pollution.

These findings make an airtight case for Toronto to act independently by bringing polluters in line with a Community Right to Know bylaw. The bylaw would require all companies to publicly disclose their use, storage and release of local smog pollutants. Torontonians deserve to
know about smog pollution happening in their neighborhoods and we're confident that such public scrutiny will convince many polluters to
change their ways.

5. Support local food and our Greenbelt Neighbours.

Action: Direct City staff to set up a Local Food Action Team made up of Toronto and Greenbelt-based food experts to report to City Council by Fall 2007 about the best ways to promote local food production and consumption in Toronto and the Greenbelt.

The food we eat shouldn't pollute the air nor cause global warming nor undermine the livelihood of our farming neighbours. But that's exactly what happens when we buy food from far away. When we buy far away food, fossil fuels are burned to get it here. And, the money we spend to buy it leaves the region, and often the country, instead of helping support local farmers.

It's time for Toronto to support local food production. This makes sense environmentally and economically. Let's work with our Greenbelt
neighbours as well as other local food producers and distributors to figure out how to grow and buy local food that helps clean the air and
support our farmers.