Toronto mayoral candidates talk about greening the city’s economy
The debate, hosted by Toronto Greenhouse and moderated by yours truly, took place this evening. Please come back after noon on Wednesday for access to a transcript of the event and to post any followup questions you may have. Candidates have been invited to visit this site and answer questions. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: After a sincere attempt to transcribe last evening’s Green Government debate, I have decided to not proceed because certain parts of the debate were inaudible on my digital recorder. It would be unfair to post a transcript in which the comments of certain candidates are not accurately recorded. My apologies. I will, however, soon have access to a link where people can watch the full video of the debate.
In the meantime, I will post here the four questions I asked and candidates have the opportunity, if they choose, to respond more clearly and concisely on this blog. Their responses can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be posted soon after they are received. (NOTE: Sarah Thomson has replied. Read below for her comments.)
Question #1: What are the top three environmental issues facing the city today and how do you plan to address them?
Question #2: Building on past efforts, how can a major municipality like Toronto do a better job of reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions?
Question #3: Can the green economy be a future economic engine for Toronto? If so, in which areas should Toronto focus its efforts and how would you, as mayor, support emerging green businesses?
Question #4: Where does each candidate stand on the use of energy-from-waste technologies, both as a way to manage municipal waste and generate electricity for the city?
Also, check out Toronto Star columnist Catherine Porter’s account of the evening on Twitter.
If you attended the debate, I welcome your comments. Who won? Which particular responses stood out?
To read candidate answers received so far click for more…
Reply from mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson
Question 1: Top 3 environmental issues are
1. Transit – build an expanded subway system. Surface transit adds to congestion which creates more pollution. Expanding our subway through 4 funding models : Rush hour road tolls on the DVP and Gardiner Expressway; Win back the provincial funding with popularity of subway expansion plan; work with developers to help pay partial cost on subway stations; and create a subway bond to help pay for expansion quickly.
2. Achieving 70% waste diversion – through green bin program in apartments. Greenlane landfill will last for next 100 years if we are able to get Toronto to divert 70% of our waste.
3. Green Economy: Buying green, supporting locally green production, and talent. We must stimulate a green economy in Toronto. Toronto needs to take advantage of the great reputation we have and use the buying power of the city to support local green businesses.Question 2: What can the City of Toronto do to further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and encourage business to reduce their emissions?
I have 3 initiatives
Time shifting: I will bring large employers together to create options for employees – shifting start times or creating satellite offices. Time shifting processes can include the accelerated development of at-home knowledge workers, time differentials for arriving and departing employees, and the creation of work centres in high-priority neighbourhoods outside the city’s core.
My administration will encourage alternative energy solutions for businesses. My administration will work with Toronto Hydro to create a financing program that will enable businesses and residents to install solar rooftop systems.
Hybrid Taxi’s: We must change the bylaws in Toronto to allow taxi’s to buy smaller hybrid vehicles. Currently taxi’s have a 5 year lifespan. If we extend the lifespan for hybrid taxis to 7 years Cab Companies will buy into the programQuestion 3: Can the “green economy” be a future economic engine for Toronto? If so, in which areas should Toronto focus its efforts and how would you, as mayor, support emerging green businesses?
Yes, Toronto can use its large buying power to help local green businesses. We have lost a lot of manufacturing from Toronto, and green product manufacturing could be a way to create more jobs and give more stability to our economy.
Toronto can offer tax reductions to local green manufacturers who set up in high priority neighbourhoods in our city. I have called for use of local green building products and local talent in city projects wherever possible.
I have called for the opening up of green options to encourage energy savings through white roofs, solar roofs and green roofs. The current bylaw requires green roof on any new development, it is not bad in concept but does narrow the focus to only one form of green technology. We must open up options for white, solar and other energy saving techniques as this could restrict green production in Toronto.Question 4: Where does each candidate stand on the use of energy-from-waste technologies, both as a way to manage municipal waste and generate electricity for the city?
I believe that we must be open to the use of energy from waste technologies. This does not always include incineration and I do not want to fall into that limited view. There are companies based here in Ontario like EWS with technologies like the reverse polymerization process that uses high-energy microwaves to break down materials to their chemical components. Sault Ste. Marie is installing a tire reclamation plant that will be using this new technology and I believe that Toronto should be open to new technologies like this.
My administration will unlock the doors of our city and invite our innovators, our entrepreneurs, and our creative people back into the role of guiding our city forward. We must be open to new technologies, to innovation and entrepreneurs with proven solutions.
Still waiting for Ford, Smitherman, Pantalone and Rossi to reply…