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Promises on pollution not kept, activists say - Globe and Mail

April 14, 1998
Martin Mittelstaed
Globe and Mail

TORONTO - Despite promising strong measures to cut summer air-pollution, Toronto politicians have done almost nothing to implement the smog action plans they voted unani­mously last year to undertake, accord­ing to a report card to be issued by environmentalists today.

Toronto has some of the poorest air-quality of any urban area in the coun­try and officials from both the former city of Toronto and the former Metro­politan Toronto had pledged to take such measures as using low-pollution vehicles, charging staff more for park­ing and buying electricity from low- poluting sources.

"Without question, the politicians behind these things in a massive way. It was an election year, of course. It's amazing how little was done afterard," observed John Wellner, a spokesman for the Toronto Environme­ntal Alliance, the group that comend the report card.

Summertime smog is the rruijor en­vironmental problem facing Toronto. Is one of the few pollutants for which government health studies have calculated an estimated death toll.

The province says up to 1800 Ontario residents die each year from smog­ related causes. 

With the city's annual smog season about to begin, environmentalists want the newly amalgamated Toronto to fornially readopt the actions that politicians pledged last year. A motion introduced by councillors Jack Layton and Joan King is scheduled for a vote later this week.

According to the Toronto Environ­ mental Alliance's report card, politi­cians took no action on 19 of their 33 previously approved initiatives, and made only minor efforts to comply with most of the remaining promises.

"If Toronto councillors are serious about their concern for public health, they should take the lead in reducing smog," Mr.Wellner said.

No actions were taken by Metro to halve smog-causing emissions from its vehicle fleet. Nothing was done to begin purchasing 25 per cent of the electricity it uses from low-polluting sources, such as wind turbines and solar arrays.

On hig-h-smog days, Metro was also supposed to suspend road paving, pesticide spraying, the use of gasoline­ powered lawnmowers and the use of solvents and oil-based paints, but there is no evidence anything was done to fulfill these commitments.

One of the few commitments the city fulfllled was to agree to partici­pate in a program of purchasing vehi­cles that do not use gasoline or diesel fuel. The city has committed to using some natural-gas-fuelled vehicles.



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