Let's go CarbonFreeTO! Support TransformTO

CLIMATE ACTION IN THE CITY OF TORONTO

Thanks to everyone who filled in the TORR survey, participated in our on-line consultation on TORR (Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild) or watched the recording, and to those of you who were able to make submissions by the July 15th deadline.  Speaking up is important!

 

ClimateFast sent in our own submission emphasizing the urgency of action on climate recommendations NOW in ways that also promote wellbeing for all in our city.  For example retrofit programs bring emissions down – and provide crucial employment opportunities.  We highlighted key points from the 24 recommendations covered in a joint submission to TORR from the Toronto Climate Action Network (TCAN) and called on council to Build Back Better.   Both our submissions were copied to the Mayor and Councillors.

 

Our op-ed was published by Toronto.com. 
 

Our letters to the Mayor and Councillors are making a difference!  During their last meeting at the end of July, Council dealt with many important climate-related items. Council voted that TORR prioritize a green and just recovery from COVID-19 by ensuring that its report is guided by the C40 Cities' COVID-19 Principles for a Green and a Just Recovery.
 

Council voted that the City of Toronto enter into the Low Carbon Cities Canada Agreement with the Atmospheric Fund and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Council also took concrete action, approving such projects as the accelerated installation of Eglinton Corridor Priority Bus Lanes in Scarborough, the creation of the Mobility Greenway, a 31 km naturalized active transportation corridor in Toronto’s north west corner, the production and distribution of renewable natural gas derived from Toronto’s organic waste and exploring measures to support and expedite the building of homes that meet the Passive House high performance building standards. Unfortunately, Council did not pass the motion to ban leaf blowers and other garden equipment with two-stroke engines, but instead referred the item to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee to consider in the future.  
 

City Council is now on summer break and will not meet again until near the end of September.
 

It really helps to keep up the pressure on Council to make changes that fit with the vision of TransformTO.  We need support for the programs that will get us to our zero emissions goal as soon as possible. Would you be a representative for your Ward? If you’d like to join the Municipal subcommittee of ClimateFast we welcome new members!  Send a note to volunteer@climatefast.ca with City Climate Action in the subject line.

 

Past Updates From City Council

 

ClimateFast - Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild Online Consultation

On June 24th, 2020, ClimateFast hosted a live, online consultation with Megan MacLean and Tamara Grossutti from TransformTO and Sarah Gingrich and Stewart Dutfield of the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild.
If you missed the online consultation, you can watch the entire recorded event here - Staff Presentations start about 14 minutes into the video.

CITY OF TORONTO - OFFICE OF RECOVERY AND REBUILD (TORR) SURVEY!

The TORR Survey Deadline has been extended until July 15th! - So, if you haven't filled in the survey or would like to share with others, please take a few moments and do so!
https://bit.ly/3iaFtp

If you'd like to send a letter with your thoughts and concerns, send to: RecoveryRebuild@toronto.ca ! Please send ASAP, this week is best!

A big thank you to our presenters Megan MacLean and Tamara Grossutti of TransformTO and Sarah Gingrich and Stewart Dutfield of the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuld.
You are welcome to contact these staff with follow-up inquiries or to cc them on your letter to the RecoveryRebuild email address:

stewart.dutfield@toronto.ca
sarah.gingrich@toronto.ca
megan.maclean@toronto.ca
tamara.grossutti@toronto.ca
 

We can’t go back to business-as-usual after the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we’re building a movement for a #JustRecoveryforAll that puts people first. Read more about the 6 Principles for a Just Reovery for All here: https://justrecoveryforall.ca/

If you need some inspiration on what to include in your letter, download a sample letter here

BUDGET WINS AT COUNCIL - THANKS TO YOU! 
 

Since the start of January, ClimateFast was very involved in Toronto's 2020 budget process, pressing Council to include robust climate funding that recognizes Toronto's Climate Emergency Declaration. This was the first budget since the Council unanimously declared a climate emergency in October, and we wanted the Declaration to not be hollow words but instead a directive for real, funded climate action in 2020. Many people attended our training for presenting deputations, writing letters to the editor and lobbying councillors. Thanks to dozens of deputants, fully funded climate action and its intersection with equity, prosperity and health were the dominant themes of the public budget consultation sessions held throughout the city. Many Torontonians also wrote, phoned or met with their councillors about this issue. The Mayor received many emails, and at the start of the council budget meeting, five councillors presented our petition signed by hundreds of residents.  Thanks to all of you who took part in writing, speaking, and being at these meetings.  Thanks to Councillors Wong-Tam and Layton for their buget motions. And thank you to Councillors Perks, Fletcher, Bradford, Layton and Matlow for presenting our petitions. 
 

Overall, our efforts led to several significant successes. After ten years of austerity budgets, City Council passed a budget that truly invests in the city and creates a means of new revenue through the introduction of the building fund levy. 
 

  • TransformTO received all requested funding to implement its current plans as well as an additional $3.7 million to hire new staff and provide new and enhanced services to accelerate climate action in keeping with Toronto's new goal to be a net-zero emission city by 2050 or sooner.

  • There was increased investment in TCHC energy efficiency retrofits

  •  Transit will benefit from the purchase of more buses and streetcars  

  • In response to the ClimateFast petition, Council voted 15-10 in favour of Councillor Layton's motion to study a commercial parking levy as a dedicated revenue stream for transit, climate initiatives and investment in resiliency. Those voting in favour included the Mayor and many of the swing-vote councillors who were the focus of ClimateFast's lobbying efforts.

But there is still work to be done! Council did not approve Councillor Wong-Tam's motion to reinstate the Personal Vehicle Tax (also known as the Vehicle Registration Tax) that our petition called for. This tax would have created about $55 million a year in new revenue to be split between transit affordability and service improvements, winter road maintenance and Vision Zero Road Safety. The motion lost 8-17 as none of the identified swing-vote councillors voted in favour of it. ClimateFast is committed to working throughout the coming year to educate the public about the benefits of a Personal Vehicle Tax and lobby councillors and the Mayor to ensure this valuable revenue tool is adopted by Council in the 2021 budget. We will also work hard to ensure that Council adopts and invests in the TransformTO 2021-23 plan and the ambitious, enhanced strategies to get Toronto to net zero emissions by 2040. Both of these items will be before Council this year. 
 


Get involved in current campaigns

 

Budget 2020!  The Mayor needs to hear your voice! 

City Council votes on the 2020 - 2021 City budget on Feb 19.  Climate action is essential for our city, and this is the first budget vote following the declaration of a Climate Emergency in October.  Council will vote to add funds to the TransformTO budget. 

Yet in this budget, with 44% of the transportation capital budget devoted to the Gardiner rebuild, and just 3% each to Vision Zero, and bike lanes, the car is still king.  If we are to achieve dramatic reductions in carbon emissions that we need to shift commuters from cars to transit, cycling, and walking.  It will help to have a Personal Vehicle Tax, (sometimes called Vehicle Registration Tax) and a Commercial Parking Levy.  

Income from these sources can help to keep transit affordable. 

But we don’t know if the Mayor is on board yet!

Will you send a letter to the Mayor and your councillor calling for support for these changes?  

 

Below is a sample letter. You can copy and paste into an email message. Then edit to make the letter your own.  

Send to: 

mayor_tory@toronto.ca; councillor_lastname@toronto.ca 

and bcc climatefast@climatefast.ca


Click on the right hand side of the page for councillor contact info, go to this link

 

We know that enough of us contacting the Mayor and our councillors personally will make a difference. Thank you!

     

Dear Mayor Tory, 

I am a resident of Toronto. I am urging you to ensure that Toronto’s 2020 budget truly reflects the priorities laid out in the Climate Emergency Declaration, which Council unanimously adopted in October 2019. If we are to make the changes necessary to mitigate the worst effects of the climate crisis and keep our pledge to be a net zero city by 2040, we must immediately and consistently address the two largest sources of emissions in Toronto -- the emissions caused by housing and transportation. We must take all steps possible to expand and promote transit and active transportation, rather than personal fossil fueled vehicles, and we must significantly accelerate the rate of home energy retrofits undertaken in our city. 

To do this, I propose that the 2020 budget include provisions for the following funding measures to enable accelerated implementation of low-carbon transportation and home energy retrofits: 

1) a Personal Vehicle Tax on fossil fuel burning cars, with the revenue to be dedicated to improving transit and reducing fares 

2) a Commercial Parking Levy, with the revenue to be dedicated to improving transit and reducing fares 

3) adequate funding for the promotion and implementation of the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) to assist residents to retrofit existing homes to the highest level of energy efficiency. 

4) increased funding to improve and expand transit and to ensure TTC fares are affordable. 

I commend you and your Council colleagues for passing the Climate Emergency Declaration and for the items in the proposed 2020 budget that signal a commitment to fund fully the implementation of the Transform TO climate action plan this year. However, I implore you to consider all aspects of this budget in the context of the declared climate emergency that we face. All decisions must be examined through a climate lens if we are to attain the City’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2040 and to play our part in preserving a liveable Earth for our present and future generations.  

Can I count on your support for these changes?

Sincerely, 

please add your name and address here 

 


 

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.

Sincerely,

Lyn Adamson

Co-Chair, ClimateFast

lyn@climatefast.ca

www.climatefast.ca
 

REFERENCES:

  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.

 


 

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

 

 

PAST COUNCIL MEETINGS

 

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.

 

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.IE6.11

 

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

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.IE6.5

 

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.

 

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.MM9.13

 

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.

 

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.EX6.4

 

 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 

 

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.MM8.9

 

https://pub-trca.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=4863

 

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.

 

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.GL4.14

 

 

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

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.EX4.1 

 

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

 

Council voted to make the King Street Pilot permanent.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.EX4.2

 

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.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.MM6.5

 

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. 

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.MM6.9