Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Clean Air Day

Today I was at the smog summit in Toronto, which is held for the various constituent municipalities and regions to talk about different initiatives they've taken on and challenges they face when it comes to clean air. It's organized by the Clean Air Partnership.

It's great to hear that all municipalities are doing something - most of them have anti-idling bylaws, are involved in education campaigns in the schools, and are retrofitting municipal buildings to be more energy efficient. Some are replacing traditional streetlights with LEDs, which are much cheaper and more efficient, and others are investing in biodiesel and hybrid vehicles for the municipal fleets. Here are some of the highlights in my opinion:

  • Burlington is offering free transit today and on several other days this summer to encourage residents to try it out
  • Caledon is the first municipality to purchase all its power from Bullfrog power
  • Newmarket has an environmentally progressive subdivision being built and another developer interested in following suit
  • Vaughn works with local manufacturers to figure out how they can be more efficient and save money. In one case, a business was able to save about $80 000 in less than a year by becoming more efficient and less pollution. Now that makes sense!
Still, there's lots of work. Nobody mentioned the amount of money being put into highway and road construction and how new roads always seem to attract new cars. Ajax and at least one other municipality (AUGH! I can't recall which one!) were concerned that the Federal government appears unwilling to be a full partner in air quality and climate change initiatives. (And I was concerned that the federal minister of the environment was not at the summit.) As well, although the municipalities are trying to lead the way into sustainability, it is still not clear to me how they will convince the public and the corporate world to follow them.


Heather said...

Well, it was the municipalities that led the way with the anti-smoking regulations too, so maybe the provinces will get on board in the future.

Happy Owl said...

Actually in Ontario the province is actually moving forward with some good environmental policies (although they have just reneged on their commitment to close the coal-fired power plants - still - that wasn't unexpected).

It's the Federal government that's a real problem at the moment. And I don't know much about policies in other individual provinces.

But you're still right - it's great that the municipalities are trying to get some things done. Some more than others.