Seeing the green light

Litter and chewed gum cover the roads and bus shelters in this area. Garbage bins at bus stops commonly overflow with used Tim Hortons cups. Posters advertising events from six months ago are still stapled to telephone poles, nails rusting from age.

Scarborough certainly has a long way to go before becoming truly green.

But the environmental movement is gaining momentum in this area.

Recently, Toronto Hydro named Scarborough East Ward 44 the greenest ward in the city as it had the most number of residents participating in Toronto Hydro’s conservation programs. Ward 44’s 93 participants saved 623 kilowatts of power.

Guess who came in second and third?

Scarborough-Rouge River Ward 41 and Scarborough-Rouge River Ward 42. With 179 participants, the two wards saved 931 kw combined.

Long before smart cars became a status symbol, action had been taken in preserving this area’s ecosystem. For one, Sheppard Avenue East doesn’t have a skyscraping condo overlooking the Rouge Valley.

Developers tried to build housing near Twyn Rivers and Sheppard Avenue in 2002. Residents and politicians rallied together to prevent construction from ruining the beauty sprawling in the heart of east Scarborough.

Before Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth moved global warming to the top of the international community’s to-prevent list, there have been numerous annual clean-ups in east Scarborough’s parks. More than 250 people participated in the latest cleanup at Morningside Park.

Tangible environmental changes don’t materialize with the flick of a switch, but residents are increasingly seeing the light.

Shoreline cleanups, prohibiting housing developments and annual conservation events are the first step towards turning this area into an example for the rest of Toronto.