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TEA’s 2019 city budget recap

Toronto Environmental Alliance says the city did some things right in the 2019 budget


TEA’s top issue in this budget: TransformTO

Our top issue in the 2019 City Budget was funding for TransformTO, Toronto’s climate action plan.  Not only does TransformTO have ambitious emission reduction targets, but it was developed to support other city strategies and initiatives that would reduce poverty, improve housing and transportation, and create jobs. However, since the plan was passed in 2017, TransformTO has been chronically underfunded.

This year, City Council voted to fund TransformTO with an additional $1.46 Million – the bare minimum needed to move the strategy forward. However, to hit Toronto’s emission reduction targets, City Council will have to make much deeper investments to retrofit our old buildings and get the city off fossil fuels through electrification and renewable energy.

That’s why we’re pushing for Toronto to explore new and innovative approaches to fund the climate plan. For example, Portland, Oregon has instituted a “Clean Energy Community Benefits Initiative” – a big business surcharge to pay for clean energy projects and job training.

Council should start exploring these options this year, so there is a concrete plan to increase investment by next year’s budget.

Making Polluters Pay 

We had a big win in this year’s Toronto Water budget. After years of debate and leadership from Councillor Mike Layton, Toronto will finally make polluters responsible for the costs of cleaning up the polluted wastewater that they release into Toronto sewers! This is an issue TEA has championed for years, from petitioning Councillors at Budget time to making it an issue in our municipal election campaign. Over the next ten years, it will save the city nearly $10 million in costs and encourage companies to reduce pollution.

We believe in holding polluters responsible, whether that’s making polluters pay to clean up their water pollution or holding companies accountable for their packaging choices that increase pollution and cost us millions each year.

Creating renewable natural gas from Toronto’s green bins is a part of a circular economy. (Credit: City of Toronto)

Investing in Toronto’s Waste Strategy

This year’s City Budget had some wins for zero waste, including preventing a cut in the number of Community Environment Days. Instead of hosting just one event per ward, Council voted to have two events in each new double-sized ward to ensure residents will still have access to this important waste service in their community.

Council also created a sustainable revenue source by moving forward with renewable natural gas from Toronto’s Green Bins. By capturing methane that is produced by organic waste, the City of Toronto will create biogas which has 97 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel and can fuel Toronto’s waste collection trucks!

Not only will this help meet TransformTO targets, the money saved from using this renewable gas will also be used to invest in further actions in the Long Term Waste Strategy. (Read more about organics and biogas in our 2016 report on organics and a zero waste path for Toronto.)

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This blog was excerpted from TEA’s Budget recap.

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