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How We Fight Climate Change Locally

Today, Council is sitting down to consider the final 2022 Budget. You’ve probably heard me say before that our budget is much more than just a bunch of numbers. It is a foundational document that sets our priorities for the coming years and shows what we value as a city. That’s why I work so hard to hear from our community on what we need to see prioritized during budget each year.

It was great to hear from so many of you at my 2022 Budget Town Hall last month.

One thing in particular has come up more and more often in my conversations about the budget: fighting climate change. Cities really are the governments with the greatest opportunity to do climate change work, as we’re the government closest to the ground and the one delivering the bulk of infrastructure, often on behalf of all three orders of government. However, property tax alone can’t get this job done. We need to work in partnership with all orders of government, and some arm’s length agencies and corporations, to tackle our looming climate crisis. Council requires staff in every division to put a climate lens on the budgets they draft, but we don’t always highlight the climate work these divisions are doing. There’s enough going on to fill dozens of pages. To boil it down, consider this review of 2021 achievements included in the Budget presentation for Infrastructure and Development Services:

A sample of 2021 climate successes. This represents only a small portion of the climate work our City divisions did last year.

All of this work and more is part of our long-range climate change strategy, TransformTO. Not every part of TransformTO has been funded yet, but with each year’s Budget we implement more of the plan and make it part of our ongoing services. Many of these ongoing services are designed to make climate-friendly options attractive and attainable, whether that’s for our single-family homes, small businesses, or even our hospitals. Incentivizing every sector to reduce their emissions and use a climate lens to guide their actions is essential to fighting climate change. For instance, the City of Toronto provides low-interest financing to large emitters to retrofit their buildings, in turn reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. This program is targeted at places like commercial and industrial buildings, multi-residential, hospitals, schools, and our hospitality sector, because research shows these are the biggest energy guzzlers and emitters. There is a parallel program for individual homeowners called the Home Energy Loan Program. With these programs, the City leverages its own below-prime lending ability to offer the most attractive rates possible to encourage homeowners, businesses, and institutions alike to lower their own carbon footprints and their energy costs at the same time. It’s a real win-win. These programs will be crucial this year in particular, as both market interest rates and energy costs begin to climb. We already have many programs in place to move us toward our TransformTO goals, but there is much more work to be done. Here’s a snapshot of some of our climate focuses for 2022:

These are goals for our Infrastructure & Development Services, where a lot of climate-intensive work can be done. However, it doesn’t include the massive work being undertaken by other divisions like the TTC or the Toronto Atmospheric fund, for instance.

While some of our climate goals and programs might be listed under one division, work is often happening on multiple fronts to achieve those goals. Expanding electric vehicle (EV) charging is a good example. Right now, there are multiple EV charging programs happening in the city. The City has directed Toronto Hydro to expand on-street EV charging options, and they will install 17 new EV super-charging stations across the city this year. The Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) is making use of $2 million in funding from the Federal Government to incentivize condo corporations and landlords to install EV charging in older buildings. By working on multiple fronts, we can really create comprehensive programs to make climate-friendly options more accessible and attainable across the city.

I also want to touch on the work we’re doing at the TTC, as transportation is a key area where we need to lower our emissions. There is a climate lens on just about everything in the TTC capital plan, because fossil fuels make the equation pretty straightforward. Gas-powered cars are the biggest contribution to our carbon footprint. The more we can encourage mass transit travel, the more we can reduce our footprint. If, on top of that, we can electrify as much of the TTC fleet as possible, we more than double the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Here is a short list of investments being made or included in the TTC budget over the next 10 years:

This chart is information-packed, but it shows all the work TTC is doing to fight climate change. Click on the image to view a larger version of the chart.

The largest number on that TTC list is the purchase of electric buses. We are grateful for a major investment in this program from the Federal government that has allowed us to order more of these vehicles. However, by the time these buses are delivered, we know ridership on our bus system in particular will have grown so much that we’ll need even more new vehicles to maintain service, and we’ll need those vehicles to be electric. There’s no way of knowing if the necessary funds will be invested by other governments.

There’s also a small number at the top, $100,000 for bike parking facilities at some stations. We need to follow the lead of many European and Asian cities to make sure bike parking is available at all subway and Crosstown stations, and some key express bus stops. This helps make transit more accessible and ensures the journey to get on transit is carbon-free. Currently, we don’t have enough funds for these bike parking stations—yet another case where we could meet our climate goals faster in partnership with the Federal and Provincial governments. We are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in climate action this year, but this work will never be done. We need to fund every action in our TransformTO plan if we want to reach net zero emissions by 2040. In particular, we need to see more from other levels of government. We need funding from the Provincial Government to tackle big items like retrofitting our public housing, and a better Transit Investment Climate Plan from the Federal Government that actually lays out how they will invest in transit in our major cities over the next 20 years. I will keep working to make sure the City puts a climate lens on everything we do: every building we approve, every vehicle we buy, every incentive we can afford to offer to reduce your own family’s impact on our planet. I want to make sure my grandkids are able to enjoy our beautiful city for as many years as I have, so let’s keep tackling climate change one budget at a time.


Planning & Development Updates

Upcoming Community Meeting: 123 Parkway Forest Drive

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 at 6:30 PM City Planning staff will be hosting a virtual community meeting to hear from residents about this development application, which proposes to demolish five of the 10 existing townhouses and redevelop the site with a 29-storey residential building containing 339 units. The existing 19-storey residential building would remain. The Preliminary Report, which outlines the application, is available here. You can join the meeting online by WebEx or call in by phone. Please register here and you will receive further instructions by email. As always, our office will keep you informed and involved after the initial community consultation.


Public Health Guidelines Update

The Provincial Government has announced the following changes to public health measures effective starting today (February 17, 2022):

  • Indoor social gatherings for up to 50 people

  • Outdoor social gatherings up to 100 people

  • No capacity limits in the following indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including:

    • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments

    • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms

    • Cinemas

    • Meeting and event spaces

    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments

    • Indoor areas of other settings that choose to “opt-in” to proof of vaccination requirements

  • Retail limited to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance

  • Personal care services limited to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance, with no limits if proof of vaccination requirements are in place

  • 50% capacity in spectator areas of sports facilities, concert venues and theatres

  • Indoor religious services, rites and ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, capped at the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distance, with no limit if proof of vaccination is required

  • No limit on attendees at outdoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including weddings and funerals

If public health and health care indicators continue to improve, the following public health measures will come into effect on March 1, 2022:

  • Capacity limits lifted in all indoor public settings

  • Proof of vaccination requirements lifted, with businesses being allowed to implement them voluntarily

  • Other protective measures, such as mask/face covering requirements and active/passive screening of patrons, will be in place

  • Public health units can deploy local and regional responses based on local health indicators

For more information on these changes, visit the link below:

In line with these changes, the City of Toronto is resuming additional services including:

  • All City-operated community centres and indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities, including pools, indoor arenas and gyms, are now operating at full capacity.

  • Other non-sport or fitness indoor actives that do not require proof of double vaccination are open with public health requirements and capacity restrictions of 50%

  • Starting next week, civic centres including Toronto City Hall will reopen for in-person counter services, including payments for property taxes, utilities and parking violations and more.

For more information on City Services is available at the link below:

Upcoming Vaccine Clinics in Don Valley North

Oriole Community Centre Clinic (2975 Don Mills Rd. W.)

North York General Hospital is running a walk-in vaccine clinic at Oriole Community Centre every Wednesday (12 PM to 3 PM) and Thursday (1:30 PM to 5:30 PM) until further notice. First, second, and third doses of Pfizer and Moderna are available, and all ages (5+) are welcome. For more information, visit the link below:

Booking Vaccine Appointments

COVID-19 vaccine appointments for first and second doses are available for those ages five and older. Third dose appointments are available for those ages 18 and older. Appointments cam be booked through the provincial booking system online or by phone:

  • Online:

  • Phone: 1-833-943-3900


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