A Net Zero Toronto by 2050

By Councillor Jennifer McKelvie
October was a great month. I was excited to be back in city council for the first meeting after rising for the summer! We’ve also been busy with community events and are grateful for all the feedback we’ve been receiving. Last month, the city organized a community consultation regarding the proposed automated shuttle bus coming to West Rouge in 2020. This session had over 40 residents present, and our online survey has over 350 responses. Although the survey is now closed, you can still be part of the conversation by providing feedback directly to my office or learning more about the project at toronto.ca/avshuttle.

C40 Cities – The Future We Want

As a recovering scientist, my happiest day as a politician was October 3 when Toronto City Council joined Paris, London, Los Angeles, Montreal, Vancouver and others in declaring a climate emergency. This advances our greenhouse gas reduction targets to net-zero by 2050. From October 9 to 12, I joined Mayor John Tory and leaders from more than 90 cities at the C40 Cities Conference, where we discussed bold climate action. Representing more than 700 million citizens and one quarter of the global economy, mayors and municipal leaders of C40 cities are committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level. Fittingly the conference was called “The Future We Want” and the meeting was held in Copenhagen, a city with an ambitious goal of net zero by 2025 – and it looks like they are going to make it.

In Toronto, we’ve reduced our emissions by 44 percent over 1990 levels, ahead of our target of 30 percent by 2020. But this reduction was largely a result of phase out of the coal plants in Ontario. The hard work is still to come, and buildings have the greatest potential for impact since they account for 52 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions. However, since the province has jurisdiction over building codes, the City of Toronto instead needs to be creative and use incentives rather than regulatory mechanisms. We’ve had success with the Toronto Green Standard and with programs like HELP, the home energy loan program to encourage home retrofits. But the science is clear, we need to do more, faster.

This month, the City of Toronto under the leadership of Mayor Tory, has launched the Green Will Initiative, a partnership between the city and major institutional and commercial landowners representing 300 million square feet of space to work together on reducing their carbon footprints. Ten partners have already signed on, including the City of Toronto, Toronto Community Housing, TDSB, TCSB, University Health Network, Ryerson University, University of Toronto, as well as three commercial owners Brookfield, Cadillac Fairview and Oxford. This is an important opportunity for the city’s biggest landholders to show leadership and demonstrate what’s possible to businesses and residents. I will continue to find ways to accelerate adoption of green technologies and accelerate our path to net zero.

Investment in Police Services

Council also approved a $1.5 million investment in our Toronto Police Service, matching provincial and federal funding for a total of $4.5M, to ensure our officers have access to much-needed resources that will be used to combat gun and gang violence throughout our city.  At a community level, this means Toronto Police Services have the ability to further expand the Neighbourhood Officer Program. This program allows for specific officers to work on building stronger relationships and proactively work to improve safety in neighbourhoods. These officers will be committed to the neighbourhoods they serve and will operate in their communities for longer periods than traditional officer roles allow. This program is currently running in all 16 Toronto Police Divisions and operating in 35 neighbourhoods. 

Let’s stay in touch

As always, we can be reached at 416-338-3771. To keep up to date with local news, please sign up for our e-newsletter at jennifermckelvie.ca, and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via my handle @McKelvieWard25.