environment

My Environment Day 2017

It’s that time of year again – Community Environment Day is right around the corner!

Date: Saturday, April 8
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Location: York Mills Collegiate Institute (490 York Mills Road)

Environment Day provides a great opportunity to clear out forgotten items as well as used electronics and household hazardous waste.

You can bring everything from computer equipment and electronics to compact and fluorescent light bulbs for disposal and recycling. Items for donation will also be accepted such as sporting goods, books and small household items like dishes and utensils. Hope to see you there!

Clean Toronto Together 2017

It’s that time of year again! As the weather warms up and spring cleaning begins, the city is looking ahead to its annual Clean Toronto Together & Community Cleanup Day events.

Each year, thousands of Torontonians gather at the end of April to remove litter and beautify our city – last year, more than 190,000 residents took part in over 1,000 cleanups!

On Friday, April 21, schools and businesses are invited to participate in the 20-Minute Makeover.

On Saturday, April 22, neighbours and residents associations are invited to clean up a local playground, trail, or park.

Registration for this event opens TODAY, March 1!

The city supplies you with litter and recycling bags and helps coordinate special litter pickups when your event ends.

For more information, please visit this link or contact Jeff McCormick with the city’s Environment & Energy Division at jeff.mccormick@toronto.ca.

Reviewing the Sewers Bylaw

For the past two years, Toronto Water has been conducting a review of the Sewers Bylaw. The purpose of the bylaw is to regulate the discharge of chemicals, or subject pollutants, into our city’s sanitary and storm sewers.

As part of the review process, I requested staff to conduct a comprehensive review of subject pollutants listed in the Sewers Bylaw. The goal is to determine whether there are additional chemicals of concern that may be impacting our wastewater treatment plant operations and should be added to this list.

A full review is not only sensible but also timely as the list hasn’t been updated since 2013. It will ensure that our bylaw aligns with the best practices and regulatory mechanisms of other levels of government.

The bottom line is that our water is constantly recycled and becomes our drinking water. It’s key that we work to reduce pollution at the source and ensure the protection of our water system.

You can read the full text of my motion here.

You can also read the Toronto Environmental Alliance’s response to my motion, which received unanimous support from the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee.

Expanding Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Toronto

At the September meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, my colleagues and I discussed the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) market and the need for infrastructure to support this green technology.

While the demand for EVs is increasing, the infrastructure for charging these vehicles is lagging behind. Public charging stations are often inconvenient for EV users who may have to leave their cars overnight to charge them and walk long distances to their homes.

In order to encourage the expansion of EV infrastructure in Toronto, I moved a motion requesting city staff to consider making EV stations a mandatory requirement under the Toronto Green Standard (TGS).

The TGS is a two-tier set of performance measures for sustainable site and building design. Tier 1 is required for all new construction in Toronto and tier 2 is a voluntary level of performance with a financial incentive. The TGS is important as it integrates environmental performance requirements to improve our air and water quality, reduce GHG emissions and lead to an overall healthier, more liveable city.

You can read my motion here.

Staff will be reporting back to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee this spring on a strategy to expand the number of EV charging stations throughout the city – stay tuned!

Compostable Coffee Pods

As Chair of Public Works & Infrastructure, I’m committed to helping Toronto reach its waste diversion target of 70 percent.

With approximately 1 in 4 households in Canada using single-serve coffee brewers, millions of single-serve coffee pods are going to landfill each and every year.

Most coffee pods are made entirely or partly from plastic and thus come with a heavy environmental cost. However, a number of coffee companies – including Toronto-based businesses – are developing pods that are more environmentally friendly, including compostable and recyclable options.

With that in mind, I moved a motion at the October meeting of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee requesting the city review the impacts of coffee pods on our waste management system, including our recycling and organics programs.

Close collaboration between the coffee industry, the City of Toronto and the province is a key piece of this review. As we encourage the industry to continue to develop more environmentally sustainable products, we also need to consider the central role of municipalities, who are responsible for processing the products through to end of life.

City staff will be reporting back in 2017 – stay tuned!

Strengthening Enforcement of Toronto’s Tree Bylaws

This past summer, 40 trees were illegally removed by a developer on Bayview Avenue. This is one of the most significant violations of the tree bylaws in Toronto to date.

In October, I requested that city staff prosecute this case at the Ontario Court of Justice and pursue the maximum penalty.

To stop developers from committing similar violations in the future, I also moved a motion directing staff to strengthen the city’s tree bylaws. In particular, I asked for improvements to the investigations process to make it more transparent, efficient and accessible.

Most importantly, I’ve requested staff to consider stiffer penalties for bylaw contraventions, including higher fines, stop work orders and the suspension of building permits.

Incidences of illegal tree removals are occurring across our city, and the City of Toronto needs to take a tougher stance and send a clear message that cutting down trees without permits is unacceptable and will be met with severe penalties.

Get Involved: Basement Flooding Master Plan Environmental Assessment Study

As you may know, city staff are currently conducting a Basement Flooding Study Master Plan that covers parts of Wards 16, 22 and 25.

A Notice of Study Commencement was released in January 2016 and includes information about the study area and process.

The Project team has just released its second newsletter with useful information about what causes flooding and what the City can do to address surface and basement flooding. There’s also a link to an online survey – the survey gives residents the opportunity to participate early in the process.

You can also learn more about the study at an upcoming Public Information Centre (PIC) on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 from 6pm to 8pm at North Toronto Memorial Community Centre (200 Eglinton Ave. West).

At the PIC, you can view display boards about the study and speak one-on-one with project staff.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact Mae Lee, Senior Public Consultation Coordinator at either 416-392-8210 or rmlee@toronto.ca.

Province Passes New Waste-Free Ontario Act

As the Chair of Public Works & Infrastructure, earlier this spring I was pleased to represent the City of Toronto before the Standing Committee on Social Policy at the Provincial Legislative Assembly for consideration of Bill 151, Waste-Free Ontario Act.

Every year in Ontario, more than eight million tonnes of waste is sent to landfill. Greenhouse gas emissions have also risen by 25 percent between 1990 and 2012 as more and more waste is disposed of in landfills.

The Waste-Free Ontario Act, passed on June 1, 2016, is going to increase waste diversion, require producers to take full responsibility for their products and packaging and help fight climate change.

You can read my full deputation at the Legislative Assembly by clicking here.

I also had the opportunity to meet with the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray, to discuss Bill 151 and how the City of Toronto, as the largest municipality in the province, could take a leadership role in championing a “Zero Waste” vision and building a circular economy.

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Have Your Say on Toronto’s Ravines

The city has been working with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and consulting with the public since early 2015 to develop a strategy on Toronto’s ravines.

 

Ravines provide many important ecological benefits and recreation opportunities and are crucial to the functioning of the city. They are also a fragile resource. With population growth, new development and climate change putting increased pressure on ravines, a strategy to guide their future management, use, enhancement and protection is critical.

The strategy will aim to navigate the fine line between protection and use, and identify the actions and investments needed to ensure Toronto’s ravines remain resilient and can be enjoyed and celebrated for years to come.

Developed by Parks, Forestry and Recreation, together with City Planning and Toronto Water and in consultation with other City divisions, TRCA, the public and a wide range of stakeholders, this strategy is scheduled to be completed in April 2017.

For additional information, please click here.

To date, a vision and set of principles and actions have been developed to represent the core ideas and values that will guide the city in future decision-making related to ravines and address the challenges and opportunities in the ravine system. Before finalizing the principles and recommendations, city staff would like to hear from the public.

You’re invited to provide input by participating in the upcoming Ravine Strategy pop-up consultations, detailed below:

North York District:

  • Saturday, July 2 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Northwood Park (behind the community centre on the north side of the asphalt path), 15 Clubhouse Ct.
  • Friday, July 8 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Edithvale Community Centre, 131 Finch Ave. W.

Managing Toronto’s Water Treatment System – Microbeads

Our city works hard to maintain high water safety and treatment standards. Toronto Water conducts more tests – for more substances – than is required by the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards.

We as residents can do our part by showing caution with what we discharge into our city’s wastewater system and, by extension, our major freshwater ecosystem, Lake Ontario.

You may have read in the news about mircrobeads, small plastic particles commonly found in many body washes, face scrubs and toothpastes, among other products. The very small size of microbeads means that they typically bypass municipal wastewater treatment systems.

In 2013, 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer were found in Canada’s five Great Lakes, with the highest concentration found in our own backyard – Lake Ontario.

In December 2015, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill banning companies from using microbeads in their products. The Canadian federal government is currently developing similar legislation.

It’s also important to remember that pharmaceuticals should not be flushed or disposed of in garbage or green bins.

Pharmacies in Toronto have a “take back” program and will safely dispose of any hazardous waste.

In December 2015, I had the pleasure of hearing presentations by Greenwood College’s Grade 8 Class on how microbeads affect our water. As Chair of Public Works, I was very impressed by their research and hard work.

In December 2015, I had the pleasure of hearing presentations by Greenwood College’s Grade 8 Class on how microbeads affect our water. As Chair of Public Works, I was very impressed by their research and hard work.

Basement Flooding Master Plan Environmental Assessment Study

City staff are currently conducting a Basement Flooding Study Master Plan that covers parts of Wards 16, 22, 15 and 25.

A Notice of Study Commencement was recently released and includes information about the process as well as upcoming public consultations.

The project team also released its first newsletter with frequently asked questions and a link to their online survey so that residents can participate early in the process.

For more information, please click here.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact Mae Lee, Senior Public Consultation Coordinator, at either 416-392-8210 or rmlee@toronto.ca.

Top Tips for Summer

Yard Waste

From mid-March to December, leaf and yard waste is collected every other week on your scheduled garbage day. City staff advise that you should wait until the evening before your collection date to put your waste on the curb.

The city collects plant and tree trimmings, weeds, brush and bundles of branches, but does not collect soil, sod, grass clippings, logs or tree stumps. Instead, compost grass clippings or reuse them on your lawn – an easy way to maintain nutrient-rich soil!

Toronto Water

Gardening

  • Disconnect your downspout and use rainwater to water your grass and gardens.

  • Extra watering is not always required – the rain is often enough.

  • Sweep sidewalks and driveways clean instead of using a hose.

  • Start planning your water-efficient, natural garden using native plants and trees.

Environment and Water Efficiency

  • Use commercial car wash facilities to wash your car – they are required to follow a set of practices determined by the city, including treating wastewater and discharging it into the sanitary sewer system where it will receive further treatment.

  • A leaky toilet or tap can cost an extra $600/month – fix leaks to avoid being charged.

  • It costs only $0.002 to fill a reusable water bottle.

  • Pool water may contain chemicals. Click here for pool drainage tips and advice.

  • The city doesn’t conduct door-to-door water tests – be careful of sales people making that claim.

For more information on how you can be more water efficient, please click here.

2014 Traffic Signal Synchronizations – Great Results

Cutting congestion and gridlock remains my number one priority as Chair of Public Works.

That’s why I’m pleased to share the results of the city’s 2014 Traffic Signal Coordination Program.

In 2014, the city synchronized 224 traffic signals on 7 major corridors, including Yonge, Leslie and Sheppard.

The results were impressive, including:

  • A 10% decrease in overall vehicle delay;
  • A 4.5% decrease in fuel consumption (equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 693 homes’ electricity use for one year!); and,
  • A 4.6% decrease in emissions.

Overall, the 2014 work resulted in an estimated annual savings of nearly $17 million in reduced congestion-related costs.

Signal synchronisations also offer a great return on investment. The benefit-cost ratio of the 7 major corridors retimed in 2014 was 63 to 1!

Better yet, there’s more in store for 2015. 343 synchronizations on 11 major corridors are scheduled this year, bringing the four year synchronization total to nearly 1,000 since the program began in 2012.

Learning from the Ice Storm

The city’s comprehensive review of its response to December’s ice storm came to July’s City Council meeting.

The review includes key recommendations to improve the city’s response to extreme weather events that grew out of motions I brought forward earlier this year.

Information was difficult to find during the storm, and the review calls for the development of new and proactive communication channels, particularly for vulnerable populations and those experiencing power disruptions.

As you know, our tree canopy was hard hit by the storm, and another important recommendation directs Urban Forestry to work with Toronto Hydro to review its hydro-line clearing program and improve our grid’s resiliency going forward.

Wilket Creek Project

In partnership with the city, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has undertaken an environmental assessment to develop a long-term plan to stabilize Wilket Creek.

This spring, a number of residents reached out to my office with concerns about the project and the environmental impact of recent work in the area surrounding the creek. I immediately reached out to the TRCA and pulled together a meeting to address the issues. At the meeting, TRCA staff committed to taking any and all measures to reduce the footprint of the work and provided key contacts for residents.

I also attended the most recent public meeting where TRCA staff reviewed the different options for creek stabilization and discussed preferred solutions. If you would like more information about this study or want to receive updates, please contact Patricia Newland, Project Manager, at (416) 392-9690 or pnewland@trca.on.ca.

Taking Action on Dust Suppression

I’m pleased to report that the Parks and Environment Committee unanimously passed my motion to take action on dust suppression!

Dust – from stone, rock, concrete and tile cutting, among other things – can be a major neighbourhood nuisance. It also has an environmental and health impact, especially for vulnerable residents.

My motion directs city staff to report in the first quarter of next year with an action plan to tackle dust pollution, including the extent of the city’s authority to regulate dust suppression as well as concrete recommendations to improve dust suppression, including amendments to the Municipal Code.

You can find the full text of my motion here.

Strengthening Toronto’s Tree Canopy

I am pleased to report that the Parks and Environment Committee voted to support and approve my motion to strengthen Toronto’s tree canopy – which suffered real damage from the ice storm.

My motion directs Urban Forestry staff to bring forward recommendations to improve Toronto’s tree protection bylaw, including, among other things:

  • A communications strategy to ensure that the public is aware of the ins and outs of our tree protection policies;

  • Better integration of any and all tree-related considerations in the planning and development process;

  • Improvements to the manner and form of public notice required by the bylaw;

  • Uniform and consistent criteria to define what constitutes a tree in “healthy condition” and “poor condition;” and,

  • Information on the impacts of soil volume on the health and longevity of replacement trees.

These points grew directly from your feedback and my street-by-street experience working on tree issues in Ward 25!

Alongside improvements on the enforcement end, these changes will make the tree protection bylaw stronger and more effective.

Post City Column: Upholding Bayview’s tree canopy

By Jaye Robinson
Post City Magazine — Bayview Edition
March 2014

Ward 25 has one of the largest tree canopies in the city with over 50 per cent forest cover. It is one of the main reasons our neighbourhoods are such desirable places to live.

I have been a long-standing advocate for trees, working alongside residents to save trees in Ward 25. That’s why it is devastating to see how many trees were damaged as a result of the December ice storm. Ours was one of the hardest hit. Many mature trees were heavily damaged and have been removed.

Some estimate that as much as 20 per cent of Toronto’s tree canopy was lost. This is a big setback for the city as it moves forward with a plan to increase Toronto’s tree canopy.

One way to achieve our goal is through Toronto’s tree protection bylaw, which could use a bit of fine tuning to make it more effective. That’s why I will be moving a number of motions to strengthen the protection bylaw and make it more transparent.

I will be requesting that the city improve the public notice and consultation process around applications as well as develop a communications strategy to ensure the public knows on what grounds applications are approved or refused.

My aim is to break down the silos at city hall between the planning and forestry departments and ensure tree protection is considered as early as possible in development and planning applications.

I will be introducing these motions to the parks and environ-ment committee this month.

If you have suggestions on how we can improve tree protection, please feel free to email me at Councillor_Robinson@toronto.ca, or give me a call at 416-395-6408.

Park Permit Review

Parks, Forestry and Recreation is doing a review of the park permit process that will examine the process for obtaining permits in parks, as well as the costs of permits and insurance.

This review is part of the Parks Plan 2013 – 2017. It also responds to a request made by the City’s Parks and Environment Committee on January 16, 2014 to review permitting procedures and identify opportunities to streamline the issuing of park permits.

Residents can provide feedback either at a public meeting on Monday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m, at Metro Hall(55 John St., Room 308) or online from March 4-April 4 through the Park Permit Survey.

Information from the survey and public meeting will be included in a Spring 2014 report to the Parks and Environment Committee.

For more information, please visit http://bit.ly/P9NJIo.

Town Crier: Push on to extend Don Mills Trail

By Eric Emin Wood
The Town Crier
January 12, 2014

Starting just south of York Mills Road and running parallel to Leslie Street, Don Mills Trail is picturesque, popular with nearby families and seniors, who use it as a walking trail — and is abruptly stopped by a fence surrounding commercial property north of Eglinton Avenue East.

Since being elected in 2010, Ward 25 councillor Jaye Robinson has been trying to extend the trail from York Mills to Eglinton, notably by negotiating with the commercial property owners to allow visitors through.

Robinson’s efforts may finally be coming to fruition, as the trail’s northern section is being put to tender this month, after which the city can determine development costs for extending the trail and plan a schedule around them.

The trail’s southern section is more complex: Robinson spent a year securing land use rights from the commercial property owners, after which city staff discovered the soil might be contaminated.

Following an environmental assessment, which was forwarded to the province, a city staff report outlining cleanup costs is expected soon.

“It’s not overly contaminated,” Robinson said, indicating clean-up is not expected to be extensive or expensive.

Once the report is delivered, Robinson’s staff will hire a consultant to design the trail.

Construction, which will include embedding soil, planting trees and laying paths, will begin in spring or summer.

“It’s all kind of good news,” Robinson said. “It’s just been unfolding very slowly.”

 

Read the full story here.