Toronto climate change plan TransformTO approved in landslide city council vote
Amara McLaughlin, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, July 4, 2017 9:37PM EDT
City council voted unanimously to move ahead with TransformTO, a major plan to tackle climate change, on Tuesday afternoon.
The plan calls for Toronto to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions, compared with pre-1990 levels, by 2050 – a target the report says will change how everything from buildings are designed and Torontonians get around.
“Analysis shows that the 2050 goal is achievable with existing technologies, but it means bold action is required to transform Toronto’s urban systems – buildings, energy, transportation and waste,” the report said.
Mayor John Tory says he is proud of council’s decision to approve the recommendations, but stressed the importance of setting a list of priorities that maximize the city’s investment.
“As a city, we need to set ambitious goals to reduce the negative impacts of climate change and increase Toronto’s resilience so we can address the very real social and economic challenges of the 21st century,” Tory said following the debate.
TransformTO has been in the works, in some form, since 2007, but the project wasn’t initiated until seven years later when it targeted a community-wide renewal in the creation of a low carbon city.
“I was proud to be a Torontonian when our Mayor went to Paris and stood up on our behalf and made a commitment with the rest of the world, with cities and mayors around the world to fight climate change and limit the increase in temperature to below two degrees Celsius,” Coun. Mike Layton told city council on Tuesday. “If we’re going to achieve that, we’re going to do everything in this report and more.”
The plan is expected to cost about $60 billion in its lifespan.
Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon, chair of the city's parks and environment committee, put forward a motion asking staff to prioritize the recommendations based on how much greenhouse gas is reduced per dollar spent.
“I think this is a win-win for all,” McMahon said. “We’re looking at the economy, we’re looking at job creation, we’re looking at public health.”
She also stated gathering additional information will help educate critics of TransformTO, while providing sustainable solutions to answer questions from organizations like the board of trade.
City officials say adopting every recommendation will cost $6.7 million in 2018. Funding for the action must be approved through the city’s budget process, an investment many councilors say the city can’t afford to wait on.
“Whether it’s an ice storm or excessive flooding as we’ve seen this year, or extended heat waves, climate change isn’t a concept. It’s not just numbers. It’s real and it’s here, and it’s having a daily impact in our lives,” said Coun. Joe Cressy. “We don’t need any more information to tell us to do these things – and more.”