Municipal elections will take place across Ontario on October 24, 2022.
Municipal elections are important! Local elections have the lowest participation of any elections in Canada, even though municipal policies have a huge impact on overall community well-being. Many people don’t realize that residents have more power to make change happen at the local level than at the provincial or federal levels, which are more heavily influenced by the vested interests of corporate lobbyists.
On October 24th we need to elect progressive Climate Action Champions!
ClimateFast has developed this list of questions on important issues pertaining to the Climate Crisis for you to ask your municipal candidates. They are focussed on the City of Toronto but many could be adapted to other municipalities.
Pose one or more of these questions to your municipal candidates at candidate debates, when meeting them at in-person events, or during their door-door canvass. You can also contact candidates by email.
1. Municipal Climate Action Plan
Many municipalities have developed “Climate Action Plans” which detail the steps to achieve their emissions reduction targets. Toronto City Council has achieved a number of climate action milestones. In 2017 they created TransformTO, the City of Toronto’s Climate Action Plan, in 2019 they declared a Climate Emergency, and in 2021 they pledged to endorse the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Later in 2021, Toronto City Council adopted the Transform TO Net Zero Strategy, an ambitious strategy to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Toronto by 2040 – 10 years earlier than initially proposed. However, implementation of that plan is not on track to meet its targets. Ask your candidate one or more of the following questions:
- What are the key elements of an effective local Climate Action Plan?
- What are the most important next steps to reduce emissions in our municipality?
- How can the municipality advance equity and fairness in its climate adaptation plans?
- How can the municipality incorporate a climate lens into its routine operations?
- How can Toronto City Council accelerate the implementation of TransformTO?
2. Land Use Planning
Decisions about where and what we build play a critical role in shaping the physical, psychological and social health of individuals and their communities. In municipalities across Ontario, urban sprawl threatens farmland, the destruction of wildlife habitats, and exacerbates the Climate Crisis. Currently, the Ontario government is requiring some municipalities to increase the land zoned for development and bypass public consultation.
- How can our municipality reduce urban sprawl?
- How should our municipality change its land use regulations to help reduce the impact of heat waves, flooding and extreme weather events?
3. Public Transit
Public transit is a climate solution. When transit is frequent, reliable, and affordable, more people will use it and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- What steps could our municipality take to ensure stable funding for public transit?
- In what ways could riders’ experience of public transit be improved?
In Toronto, the energy we use to heat and cool buildings and power transportation is by far the biggest source of Toronto's greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions from buildings account for over 50% of our city-wide emissions, while those from transportation account for 30% of GHGs.
- How can our municipality promote and support the transition from gas to electric vehicles?
- What key infrastructure improvements are needed to decrease reliance on personal vehicles and promote active transportation (walking, cycling and rolling)?
- How would you tackle the challenge of retrofitting existing buildings to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels?
- What do you think should be done to hasten changes in local building codes to make sure new construction has zero emissions?
In Toronto, over 10% of our emissions come from our waste. A zero waste path for Toronto will protect the environment, benefit the community and support good green jobs and a strong local economy. Reducing, reusing, and recycling will conserve energy and dramatically reduce our carbon emissions. Additional benefits would be derived from a circular economy which accounts for the entire lifecycle of a product, and which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing products and materials.
- What strategies would you promote for the municipality to reduce the amount of waste produced within the City?