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E-BLAST: Council Highlights: Climate Action & Multiplexes

May 11, 2023

As I write this E-Blast, we are nearing the end of the second day of this month’s City Council meeting. Our agenda started with 183 items of business: everything from development applications to budget adjustments on big infrastructure projects like basement flooding mitigation to sidewalk installations. At the start of every meeting, the Mayor (or in our current case, Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie) is able to designate up to two Key Matters.

This month, it was about climate action and multiplexes. TRANSFORMTO NET ZERO CLIMATE ACTION STRATEGY On climate action, Council adopted two major reports: the 2022 Annual Report of the TransformTO Net Zero Climate Action Strategy and the Carbon Accountability Report. TransformTO is the City’s Net Zero strategy that was adopted in 2021 and sets us on the path to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with some of the most ambitious targets in North America: community-wide net zero emissions by 2040, with a 65% reduction even sooner at 2030. This report is a key part of holding ourselves accountable for our own commitments in this area. So often, we adopt strategies that are well-consulted, well-produced, and even win awards but sit on the shelf. I’m proud to say that’s not the case here: we have a strategy, annual action plans, and a metrics dashboard that comes back to us regularl.

This year, we celebrate that 100 per cent of the short-term actions in our plan to reach our targets were met. Other key achievements in 2022 include:

  • Version 4 of the Toronto Green Standard (TGS) came into effect, raising the bar once again for high-performance, high-quality, low-emissions new buildings in Toronto. The TGS continues to raise the bar for all new builds and is expected to save more than one megatonne of GHG emissions by 2050.

  • More good news if you own or are thinking about an electric car. More than 100 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations were installed in Green P lots. By the end of 2024, more than 650 charging ports will be installed both on-street and in Green P parking lots. An EV Charging Plan is also in development to grow and support the transition to electric vehicles. The City’s goal is to have 30 per cent of registered vehicles in Toronto fully electric by 2030.

  • A Wastewater Energy Program was introduced, facilitating one of the largest and first-of-its-kind sewer heat-recovery projects in the world to expand renewable energy supply for buildings. Work is also underway to expand the Deep Lake Water Cooling system that Enwave Toronto is famous for.

  • A Climate Advisory Group comprising 26 members of the public with diverse backgrounds and lived experience was established to help guide implementation of the TransformTO Strategy with an equity lens.

Community-wide GHG emissions in Toronto have been reduced by 43 per cent against 1990 levels. Significant community-wide action is needed to reach future targets, including a 65 per cent reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2040. To reach the City’s 2030 target, emissions must be cut in half in the next seven years. MULTIPLEXES The Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) initiative looks at a range of low-density housing types like garden suites, duplexes, triplexes and low rise apartments that will help create a more diverse range of options in neighbourhoods. The goal of the bylaw, which was approved at City Council yesterday, is to bring more housing opportunities for Torontonians, who would otherwise be priced out of the housing market. Prior to its inclusion in this week's agenda, the City held multiple virtual consultations dating back to 2019, and I have also written extensively about these changes in several E-Blasts over the last year:

This is a three unit detached home in central Etobicoke of a similar scale and depth to its neighbours. It is on a wide lot that can accommodate parking alongside soft landscaping and a mature tree. I know that for some this is a daunting change. But here is some comfort: any homeowners who choose to expand their home into a multiplex will still have to ensure that their homes are in harmony with the rest of the neighbourhood. Each application will be measured against the City's bylaws, building codes, landscaping requirements, storm water infrastructure guidelines among many other criteria prior to the City considering their application. It is a comprehensive process that does have to account for congruity with the existing neighbourhood. As the housing crisis rages on, the City is looking at gentler ways to enhance density and over time, will prove to be a better alternative to larger density buildings. Here is my speech from Council on the issue:


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