Eco-ideas sprout at Toronto Green Community debate

Seeds of hope for eco-conscious Torontonians were planted last night at the Toronto Green Community Environmental debate.

Candidates from Wards 16, 22 and 26 discussed the future of Toronto’s environment at the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre. Each candidate agreed the environment is a top priority and provided solutions to some of Toronto’s biggest problems like pollution and waste.

Candidates were asked what their most pressing environmental issue is for Toronto and how he or she would approach it if elected.

And environmentalist Alison Barrie from Toronto Environmental Alliance liked what she heard.

The hopefuls presented some exciting ideas, she said, with one in particular from Ward 22 candidate William Molls. He presented the most ambitious solution to what he thinks is Toronto’s biggest environmental concern.

“The number one issue that has been lacking in the mayoral debates and this election is global warming,” he said. “Ultimately I think our goal should be a carbon neutral city.

“I know it goes outside of the jurisdiction of the city because we have to work with the province but I think we can shut down all of our carbon omitting power sources and move to renewable energy and green sources.”

It’s something that Barrie thinks might be unattainable during a single term as councillor. But, she appreciated the refreshing approach to the problem.

“I was happy to see him propose that and be the first one to propose that on the panel. That was really promising,” she said. “It’s definitely ambitious… It’s not something that can be done in the next five to 10 years, but it may be essential by then. I hope we start addressing it seriously before it becomes essential.”

She says there are ways in which the elected councillor can start to work with the city to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and cut down on omissions.

“Increase biking and improve the transit system. Become less reliant on buses and move towards the light rail transit because it’s electric,” Barrie said.

Barrie was also impressed with candidates from Ward 26 and their stance on waste diversion in high-rise buildings, an issue outlined in Toronto’s Environmental Alliance’s list of 2010 municipal election priorities. Candidate Tanvir Ahmed said this is the most pressing environmental issue in his ward.

“In Ward 26 mostly the people are living in high rises and over crowding issues come up and garbage disposal and removal problem comes up,” he said. “Building management doesn’t do enough to fix shoots and create disposals for different waste. I’ll work with them to fix this problem.”

From an environmentalist’s perspective, Barrie says the problem is availability: people in high rises don’t have easy access to recycling or compost disposal. She said it needs to become mandatory.

“The highest concentration of people [in the city] don’t have access to waste diversion facilities. It’s important to roll that issue out and start to create ways to stop the waste,” she said. “Our goal is to meet a target of 70 per cent less waste by 2012.”