Letter to Toronto's City Divisions
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are encouraged by the signs of government support to citizens and to the most vulnerable in this crisis, as well as the collaboration shown by all levels of Government. We are also encouraged by the signs of social solidarity among citizens of Toronto in doing their part to mitigate the crisis.
Please know we appreciate the hard work being done by you and your division to provide needed services. Nonetheless, for many of us, one positive outcome from the tragedy of this pandemic has been the time to reflect on our heightened sense of social responsibility and on our ability to mobilize and work together around a common cause.
While we are still battling the virus, we must remember that we have another crisis looming on the horizon, which in fact, is already here - climate change. It differs from the present one, in that the impacts are delayed, but are no less devastating. Recall that Toronto has already declared a state of emergency over climate change. Unfortunately, it will impact everyone, but especially the most vulnerable, and there will be no flattening of this curve. It only has an upward trajectory whose severity can be lessened if we act sooner rather than later. If there is anything that COVID-19 has taught us, it’s the importance of preparedness and rapid response.
Recently MobilizeTO sent a list of recommendations for TransformTO. (see attached for full list of recommendations) We are glad that the City has allocated funding for many of TransformTO’s needs, but would like to identify areas which we consider to be priorities in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
• There is an urgent need for retrofitting of city-owned buildings and amending building codes so that all new construction is carbon neutral;
• We support, as much as possible, divestment of City of Toronto Investments from fossil fuels;
• An increase for more in-City parking levies and an inner-city toll for commuters outside the GTA to reduce traffic and encourage public transportation;
• Consider the possibility of the City to move away from natural gas as an energy source in favour of renewable alternatives.
We would welcome an opportunity to meet with Councillors or representatives of the respective Divisions regarding these recommendations. Until such time as Council members and staff return to City Hall, and can meet in person, we would be happy to connect with you by e-mail, (please reply to Amelia Rose Khan, C/O firstname.lastname@example.org) or by teleconferencing.
We are at a watershed moment in which actions we take now will drastically affect the future viability of our City. COVID-19 has been a game-changer, and there will be no returning to business-as-usual. We have been given a rare opportunity to rethink, retool, and redirect our efforts to act more prudently and sustainably. Let’s take this opportunity to take the necessary steps proactively, to secure a safe and healthy future for all Torontonians.
Encl. TransformTO Recommendations
cc. Transform TO