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ClimateFast 2020 Budget Deputation

January 19, 2020

Re: 2020 Budget

Dear Chair and Councillors

I am writing on behalf of ClimateFast, a group of climate concerned citizens based in Toronto. Our view is we need to act on climate – fast. We started in 2012 and worked on federal climate policy from 2012 – 2015. In 2015 we became involved in the consultations that led to the creation of the TransformTO climate action program.

We are pleased to see the budget increase in new and enhanced to support the excellent work of the TransformTO program. We appreciate the support of City Council for this work and the Climate Emergency Declaration Council passed in October 2019.

However overall the funding for climate action does not match the urgency of action required.

So far the global temperature has risen on average just over 1 degree and we have already seen extreme changes to the climate – drought, flooding, fires, ice storms. The bushfires in Australia show us how scary the situation is – with 20 x as much area burned so far this year’s bushfire season compared to other years. Ontario’s fire season comes next. Changes in ocean currents and the jet stream are affecting the climate including bringing us deep freezes from the Arctic, and extreme warm days. If warming continues algal blooms will render our lakes toxic. Globally we need to keep temperature rise to a 1.5 degrees (or maximum 2 degrees) however we are currently headed to an unlivable temperature rise of 4 – 5 degrees by 2100. (1)

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has said that to keep a livable climate to 2100 we must cut emissions 7.6% ANNUALLY minimum. This is the crucial decade for a turnaround. (2) and (3)

How is the City of Toronto doing? The Toronto profile by the Atmospheric Fund shows that emissions are only decreasing gradually, from 14.9 MT in 2015 to 14 MT in 2017. While buildings are the largest contributor to emissions overall, over 50%, transportation is next at 38%. (4) International travel, food and consumption are excluded from these calculations.

If we want to lower emissions significantly we must massively accelerate building retrofit program and we must completely change our approach to transportation planning – we must shift massively from fossil burning cars to transit, cycling and walking.

There are many steps the City can take to do this. These our outlined by The Toronto Environmental Alliance, and we support all of these. (5) We also support the recommendations by the Atmospheric Fund in its response to the City’s Climate Emergency Declaration. (6)

As our deputation time is short I will focus on three examples.

  1. Housing Retrofits: at the current rate it will take 1000 years to retrofit all the buildings in the city. We need to do it in 30 years, if not 20 years, or even sooner to match the urgency of achieving a zero carbon future. Ramping this program up needs to be a priority for the City and will create amazing job benefits for youth and underserved communities. Consideration needs to be given to marketing this program and providing staff supports and financial incentives to encourage participation.

  2. Transportation: while spending 44% of the capital budget for transportation for the Gardiner we are not able to find the $61.6 million to fund the city’s bike lane program? Surely we can. And let’s accelerate the express bus plan. Currently roads are free while transit riders pay 75% of the cost of providing transit. If we want to shift riders to transit we must shift the financial picture so it costs more to drive and less to use transit. And transit service must be improved as this will attract increased ridership.

  3. Planning: One of the TransformTO goals is to achieve a shift to active transportation for 75% of trips under 5 kilometres. To do so we need a walkable city – complete streets. We wish to highlight the example of the rebuilding of the north Yonge St. This will be coming before Infrastructure and Environment Committee in the next few months. We urge you to make this an example of support for Vision Zero and active transportation by building bike lanes and wider sidewalks and reducing the allocation of space on the road for cars. If we want to see change for the future, much reduced emissions, we need to see that change reflected in our planning.

We urge you to put a climate lens on all council decisions. We urge you to increase funding for community grants for education and action at the neighbourhood level, and we urge you to think big in terms of the changes needed to truly achieve a livable city for the future. For all those who are young now, this truly matters. It matters to the rest of the world as those who are emitting the least, in the global south, are experiencing the worst impacts. We can reduce the numbers of climate refugees by doing our part to keep temperature rise to a minimum and global emissions down. Let us learn from indigenous wisdom to think seven generations ahead. Let’s act on this positive vision, together.


Lyn Adamson

Co-Chair, ClimateFast




  1. https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/nsw-rural-fire-service-map-shows-massive-extent-of-bushfires/news-story/0bd5be470d55ac2f8b06922e1a72b6c5

  2. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/25/climate-heating-greenhouse-gases-hit-new-high-un-reports

  3. https://theenergymix.com/2019/11/27/record-ghg-concentrations-prompt-call-for-drastic-action-to-reduce-emissions/

  4. TAF Carbon Emissions https://taf.ca/gtha-carbon-emissions/toronto/

  5. TEA recommendations: https://www.torontoenvironment.org/2020_budget

  6. TAF Review of Toronto’s Climate Emergency Declaration: https://taf.ca/review-toronto-climate-emergency-declaration/

  7. Retrofit numbers: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2019/ie/bgrd/backgroundfile-134697.pdf, p. 6.



  1. Toronto City Council Update 

Toronto Declared a Climate Emergency in October 2019

You can view the motion here: http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.MM10.3





JULY 16/17, 2019


The following items are on the agenda for City Council’s consideration this month:


IE 6.1 – Cycling Network Plan Update


Transportation Staff have undertaken the biannual review of the Ten Year Cycling Network Plan (2016). They have determined that more people are riding bicycles in Toronto than ever before, especially where new or improved cycling infrastructure has been provided. In some Toronto neighbourhoods, the cycling mode share is now over 20%. Demand for safe, connected cycling routes throughout the city is on the rise, and recent polls demonstrate the majority of residents support protected bike lanes. Increasing the number of trips under 5 km taken by bicycle is a key objective of the TransformTO strategy.


The update provides a summary of cycling infrastructure projects that have been completed, as well as a schedule of priority near- and long-term projects for the future. Over the next three years (2019 to 2021), over 120 km of new cycling infrastructure is planned, with additional upgrades to existing infrastructure through the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan. Additionally, over 70 km of routes will be studied within the near-term (2019 - 2021) for potential implementation. 


This item was considered by Infrastructure and Environment Committee on June 27, 2019 and was adopted with amendments. It now goes to Council for endorsement and adoption.




IE 6.5 - Extending Successful Energy Retrofitting Programs


Launched in 2014, the Residential Energy Retrofit Programs have provided financing to support capital improvements (retrofits) for residential properties with energy efficiency and water conservation benefits. The Programs operate as two streams: the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) for eligible houses; and the High-rise Retrofit Improvement Support Program (Hi-RIS) for multi-unit residential buildings. To date, almost $14.9 million in financing has been committed to projects with over 202 properties participating in the program, which has resulted in an emissions reduction of over 4,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents.


This report seeks City Council authorization to extend the Residential Energy Retrofit Programs until December 31, 2021 to authorize program enhancements including the expansion of eligible measures funded through the program. An update on program uptake and results is also provided in this report. Staff will report back with a plan for the continuation of the Programs until 2024 through the TransformTO 2021-2024 Implementation Plan in Q4 2019 and subsequently provide regular updates on the Programs through this consolidated process



MM9.13 – Supporting Wastewater Energy Transfer in Toronto


The City of Toronto is committed to an ambitious climate change strategy through TransformTO. As part of our commitment to meet the objectives of TransformTO we have established the Green Market Acceleration Program to support the development of new renewable energy technologies.


Supporting technology that uses the energy from wastewater is one step the City can take to advance our climate change goals. The United Nations estimates that over 3000 billion litres of waste water are dumped into North American and European sewers every day. That waste water contains thermal energy that can be used to heat and cool buildings across the City. This could have a significant environmental impact, given that heating and cooling buildings contributes almost 30 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions.


Councillor Layton has submitted a motion, seconded by Mayor Tory, to advance strategic pilot projects or wastewater energy transfer in the fourth quarter of 2019, to inform a City wastewater energy transfer policy to be brought forward in the third quarter of 2020.




June 18/19, 2019


EX 6.4 - Federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund – Update


The Government of Canada's Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) is a $2.0 billion national competitive capital contribution funding program aimed at supporting large-scale infrastructure projects to help communities better manage the risks of disasters triggered by natural hazards. In July 2018, the City of Toronto submitted six projects for approval through the first intake process based on City Council approved budgets and plans, with consideration for the DMAF program requirements and application deadlines. 


City Council directed the City Manager to apply for DMAF funding for capital projects that meet the eligibility criteria, including flood mitigation infrastructure in key areas.




 MM 8.9 - Protecting the Toronto Islands - Long-Term Flooding Mitigation and Adaptation


The Toronto Islands have experienced significant flooding in recent years, with record high water levels recorded in 2017 and again in 2019. Recognizing that annual sandbagging efforts are not a realistic long-term solution, the Infrastructure and Environment Committee will be considering a report from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority board, with respect to flood characterization, flood risk assessment, flooding mapping and flooding mitigation alternatives. This report was presented at the TRCA board meeting on June 21, 2019.


This motion by Councillor Cressy 






MM 8.14 - Institutionalizing Resilience and Acting Now for Our Children’s Future


On June 4, 2019, the City of Toronto’s Resiliency Office released its first Resilience Strategy in preparation for the threats of climate change facing the City. https://www.toronto.ca/ext/digital_comm/pdfs/resilience-office/toronto-resilience-strategy.pdf


The Resilience Strategy calls on the City to “institutionalize resilience into the City’s decision-making and take leadership on resilience”. This motion by Councillor Jennifer McKelvie passed, with the following directions:


  1. City Council commit to “Institutionalize resilience into the City’s decision-making and take leadership on resilience” and that the City Manager “embed resilience as a practice across the City and its partners” as outlined in Action C4.1 (pages 143-144 of the Resilience Strategy) as a first step in implementation of the Resilience Strategy.


  1. City Council request the City Manager to report back to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee in September 2019 on a plan of action to further publicize and promote the Resilience Strategy.


  1. City Council request the City Manager to report back to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee by the end of the third quarter of 2019 on how staff will:


  1. apply the lens of resilience to budget notes, infrastructure and development services notes, community and social services notes, and relevant new initiatives brought forward; and
  2. track, and report to City Council on, the implementation of the recommendations in the Resilience Strategy.




May 14/15, 2019


GL4.14 Evaluation of the Use of Cargo Bikes in City Operations


Transportation accounts for about one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto and is also the primary local source of emissions that contribute to air pollution. The City of Toronto has committed to reducing emissions from its operations through actions included in the TransformTO Climate Action Strategy and the City's Green Fleet Plan. The use of cargo bikes has been researched as a way to reduce emissions from City fleet operations and encourage the use of active and low emission transportation options for employees. 


City Council approved a pilot test of the use of cargo bikes by Parks, Forestry, and Recreation staff.





April 16/17, 2019


EX4.1 Toronto's Transit Expansion Program - Update and Next Steps


Council voted to approve funding for the following transit projects:

  • Line 2 Extension (Scarborough subway)
  • Relief Line South
  • Smart Track
  • Bloor-Yonge Capacity Improvement



EX4.2 The Future of King Street - Results of the Transit Pilot 


Council voted to make the King Street Pilot permanent.



MM6.5 Measuring the Financial Impact of the Carbon Tax 


Councillors Minnan-Wong and Crawford have put forward a motion to have the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer to report to the Executive Committee on the financial impact of the Carbon Tax on the City

This item was referred to the Executive Committee. Their next meeting is May 1, 2019.



MM6.9 Eliminating Single Use Plastics


Councillors Colle and McKelvie have put forward a motion to report to City Council on a comprehensive plan to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic products in all City of Toronto Facilities 

This item passed and was referred to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee.