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 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?

Here are some links to coverage of last evening’s event — the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and the National Post (and here).

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 program

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?


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…

3 thoughts on “Toronto mayoral candidates talk about greening the city’s economy”

  1. Q1: should have traffic congestion as one of the key problems.

    Q2: can be partially addressed congestion with a combination of transit, road repair and road pricing. Actually this may be the single greatest hit (circa 20-30% improvement).

    Q3: should include promoting (by successful use) the technologies to make road pricing fairer than higher property taxes (for road use funding). This will green the city and increase productivity.

    Q4: should include ways to get new electricity generated through waste to electric cars parked in city parking spaces

  2. re:
    “it would be unfair to post a transcript in which the comments of certain candidates are not accurately recorded.”


    I think you MUST report this transcript. Please do your best to capture what you can. put (?) behind words you are only 80-90% sure of and replace garbled passages with {inaudible}. This way you:

    * encourage candidates to write in and clarify
    * are honest
    * report what we voters deserve to hear
    * encourage candidates who mumble to take responsibility to speak clearly next time
    * encourage me to vote for a person whose answers I understand
    * hint that a mumbler candidate might be a mumbler mayor

    or else you show that Toronto cannot always set up a sound system.

    This debate is too important to mumble through.

  3. I glanced at Catherine Porter’s tweets from last night, from your link above- one stood out:

    “Rib Ford’s greenhouse gas reduction plan: get rid of speed humps and stop signs so there is less car congestion. Good Lord!”

    I can only surmise, and hope, this was proposed tongue-in-cheek? If so, very funny! If not…well, there are other candidates;-)

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