October 31, 2007
Council Tax Tricks Take Away Anti-Smog Treats
(Toronto) – Today, the Toronto Environmental Alliance released its annual Smog Report Card, giving the City of Toronto a C+ for action on smog in 2007 – up from C- in 2006. TEA lauded Council’s adoption of the new Smog and Climate Change Plan and the Transit City Plan to expand the transit system. But Council’s delay in adopting the new revenue tools proposed in July crippled TTC service improvements and other smog fighting initiatives, reducing the grade significantly.
“Toronto was on track for a B or B+ before it voted to defer the new taxes in July," commented Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “That vote sucked the life out of the Smog and Climate Change Plan for four months and put basic improvements to the TTC in jeopardy."
Dubbing 2007 “The Year of Uncertainty" TEA’s Smog Report Card notes that the Mayor showed remarkable leadership in getting Council to adopt a new Smog and Climate Change Plan. But Council’s tax tricks, the four month delay in adopting two new revenue tools, harmed the plan’s implementation and took a toll on the TTC.
“We spent last four months wondering whether the smog and climate change plan would be still-born," said Katrina Miller, Campaigns Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “Now we want assurances in the 2008 budget that fighting smog is still a priority for this city."
The Report Card contains 7 recommendations including many specific to Toronto’s 2008 budget. TEA is calling on City Council to freeze TTC fares, fund TTC service improvements, invest in green power and energy efficiency, and support community anti-smog actions.
In addition to celebrating Toronto’s new transit and smog plans, the Smog Report Card gave high points for earmarking $84 million for energy efficiency and completing over 200 energy retrofits on City buildings. Movement on developing the Community Right to Know bylaw, the new Air Quality Health Index, and expanded subsidies for green roofs was also acknowledged as pluses in the report. Hartmann and Miller highlighted no new green power purchases, continued TTC fare increases and a sluggish bike plan as proof that little funding and slow implementation continue to plague many smog fighting initiatives.
For more information, contact: Franz Hartmann, Executive Director,
Toronto Environmental Alliance: 416-606-8881
Click here to see Smog Report Card 2007