So Close! - Feb 16th, 2017


Next CarbonFreeTO meeting: Wed Feb 22nd, 6:30 pm 60 Lowther Ave. All welcome!

Dear friends of CarbonFreeTO,

Last night we had a partial victory. We went into the council meeting with a partial win already in hand. 20% of the 2017 budget ask for the city’s Transform TO climate action plan was put into the preliminary budget by Chair Gary Crawford before the Executive Committee met a week ago. This was added following 16 oral deputations, and many written ones, in support of TransformTO 2017 funding, during the budget review process.

20% is not enough, and we decided to go for full funding at the City Council meeting. $1.6 million in the City’s budget is a very tiny amount (out of $14 Billion) and a motion could be put forward for the additional funds, $1.22 million, so long as where it was specified where the funds would come from.

Councillor Perks put forward that motion, proposing the funds come from the extreme weather reserve fund. And we almost won. The vote was 23-21. You can see the vote results here.

Our hard work in lobbying resulted in many councilors moving to support this motion who would not have been expected to. But at the same time we lost two votes from councilors who should have supported the motion and did not. That is the reason we lost.

Councillor McMahon, Chair of Parks and Environment opposed Perks’ motion on the grounds that TransformTO has $330,000 currently in the budget (20% of the ask), we are getting a Chief Resiliency Officer (through an external grant), and we should be getting funding from other levels of government. She also thought we should wait for the 2050 report before allocating more funds. Never mind that’s in the middle of a budget year – that was her reasoning. She is very influential and the fact that we almost won despite her opposition tells us we did some very good relationship building work with other councilors. Now we need to do this with McMahon as well, and even more importantly, Mayor Tory. The Mayor voted against Perks’ motion despite his Paris 2015 commitment to climate action. Read the Paris declaration, and listen to the Mayor’s statement.

A very big thank you to everyone who came to meetings, called or wrote their councilors, kept in touch with organizers, showed up for the ‘Have a Heart’ rally yesterday morning, and to the 700 people who signed our petition to Mayor Tory. Special thanks to those who came to listen to council’s budget deliberations, some staying late into the night. All these efforts made a very big difference and give us a stronger base to move forward from. This partial win is thanks to you!

Now we are moving forward!

The next step is to receive the staff report on how the City can achieve the 80% carbon reduction target adopted by Council. This will be out the last week in April and will be presented at Parks and Environment on May 2nd. So hold that date, there will be deputations.

And one of the deputations will be from children at Thorncliffe Park Public School. Their Valentine’s cards (which included well thought out and heartfelt letters on climate change) swayed Councillor Jon Burnside to support Gord’s motion last night. Watch the 2 minute video here: VALENTINES TEA FOR THE MAYOR: PUT CLIMATE IN THE BUDGET!

Kids valentine, red heart saying 'Stop Climate Change'

Our lobbying is clearly an important step forward. Come to our next meeting Wed Feb 22nd for a meeting to review and learn from our work so far, plan for the next 3 months to the 2050 report, and celebrate our campaign win.

The CarbonFreeTO Team

Please note: full video of the meeting can be seen at this link. At 1:47:47 is Councillor Perks' motion for fully funding TransformTO this year.  Councillor McMahon speaks at 2:32.

Chair Lyn Adamson had a letter published in the Star on the budget. Read it here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017