The Gomberg for Mayor platform plank on Energy.
In the last year the Toronto City Council endorsed two very impressive documents that deal with increased energy efficiency and improved air quality: the Environmental Task Force’s (ETF) “Clean, Green and Healthy: A Plan for an Environmentally Sustainable Toronto”, and the Board of Health’s (BoH) “Smog Plan”. Both these documents highlight the strain on the health of Toronto’s population and on our environment, as well as solutions that would alleviate the problems.
In December 1998, the new City Council re-adopted the old city’s target of a carbon dioxide emissions reduction goal of 20% relative to 1990 by the year 2005. Nevertheless, Toronto’s emissions continue to rise.
Although the progressive policy statements have been on track, so far energy and air pollution issues have not been seriously addressed with concrete actions. Fortunately, solutions exist that will make Toronto’s energy use requirements work in an ecological, economical, and socially responsible manner.
As the Mayor of Toronto, I would:
1. Address the recommendations and issues outlined in both the ETF and BoH documents by creating strategies and timetables with adequate staff and budget to implement.
2. Create a timetable to aggressively reduce negative impacts related to nuclear and fossil fuel energy sources. Two major actions will reduce pollution from energy: first, the Lakeview coal-fired power plant must be converted to natural gas. Second, the city must commit to a minimum target of 50% “Green Energy”, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and small hydroelectric. Toronto Hydro should also aggressively promote energy efficiency and conservation. For example, the energy conservation programs of Enbridge Consumers Gas and Union Gas are reducing residential, commercial, institutional and industrial energy bills by over $100 million per year. Also a bulk “Green Power Purchase” by Toronto from operating savings on energy efficiency upgrades will create employment by attracting local green power manufacturing firms to locate in Toronto.
3. Send out Request for Proposals that would help transform our “Industrial Parks” into “Ecology Parks”, where common systems are built to allow waste energy and materials from one business to be used in another processes. The “Ecology Park” method would integrate waste processing needs with energy needs by treating waste as a resource. The energy needs for recycling plants could be combined with energy produced from anaerobic digester plants.
4. Set higher standards for new construction in all sectors to reduce our energy needs by creating better operating buildings. The City should establish a feebate system for building permits for newly constructed buildings that is revenue neutral. This permitting system would reward the buildings that are constructed at the higher level of energy efficiency by discounting the building permit fees. Buildings that are not constructed to meet the higher levels of efficiency would pay a surcharge for permits.
5. Gradually shifting spending from roads for cars to public transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities would generate funds for GO rail link expansions including links with the Airport.
6. Support urban agriculture and reestablish farmers markets across the City. I will also oppose urban sprawl and call for densification in City and GTA centres. This will reduce demand on transportation, and help to protect agricultural lands and the Oak Ridges Moraine from development.