These Notes are part of a series of Notes on key City issues to update City Council at the start of its 2018 – 2022 term.

What are the Issues?

Click on the link below each issue to read the full Note.

Climate Change: Creating a Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Toronto

City Council committed unanimously in 2007 to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 and unanimously reconfirmed that commitment in July 2017. This commitment aligns with internationally agreed upon targets to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

In 2015, 196 countries including Canada reached an agreement on the pressing need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (the Paris Accord). The Government of Canada’s implementation of these targets is outlined in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

With the majority of the world’s population now living in urban areas, cities are at the forefront in leading the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To meet these commitments, the City will continue to make transformational investments that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating opportunities to improve public health, local economic prosperity, and social equity.

The City is taking action to decarbonize its economy and infrastructure and adapt to the changing climate while preserving and enhancing the environment. Environmental progress is reported bi-annually in the Toronto Environmental Progress Report.

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Wet Weather Flow Master Plan and Basement Flooding Protection Program

In 2003, City Council adopted the 25 Year Wet Weather Flow Master Plan (WWFMP), with the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating the adverse impacts of wet weather flow on Toronto’s environment. It recommended projects and initiatives for implementation within each of the city’s watersheds.

Wet weather flow (WWF) includes stormwater runoff from both overland and combined sewer overflows. Wet weather flow has historically caused degraded water quality at city beaches, impaired ecosystem health of watersheds, damaged sewer infrastructure from stream bank erosion, and property flooding during extreme storm events.

The City’s Basement Flooding Protection Program (BFPP), under the umbrella of the WWFMP, is a multi-year initiative aimed at reducing the risk of future flooding during extreme storm events. Under the program, the City is undertaking Basement Flooding Environmental Assessment (EA) studies that recommend sewer infrastructure improvements to reduce the risk of future flooding.

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Building Toronto’s Resilience

A resilient Toronto is one where everyone can survive, adapt, and thrive in the face of any challenge. Two key challenges facing Toronto are a changing climate and growing inequality. As a result, the city is experiencing more heat waves, floods and ice storms, while seeing greater levels of inequality in the inner suburbs and more central neighbourhoods in particular. New ways of collaborating in government, working across sectors and engaging the public are needed to build Toronto’s resilience.

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Long Term Waste Management Strategy

The City of Toronto manages approximately 900,000 tonnes of waste annually. With a growing population, the changing nature of waste, and limited landfill space the City is implementing new waste reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery and residual disposal policies and programs, which are cost-effective, socially acceptable and environmentally sustainable for the long term. These programs are critical for the City to meet City Council’s goal to divert 70 percent of waste by 2026 and work towards a Circular Economy and Zero Waste future.

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Pressure on Toronto’s green spaces and ecosystems

Increased use of Toronto’s green spaces, climate change and the introduction of pests and invasive plants are putting pressure on the city’s ecosystems, leading to degradation and the need for increased maintenance. These spaces, largely ravines and along the waterfront, contribute to the city’s high quality of life and economic prosperity, offering opportunities for recreation and education, stormwater management, clean air and water, biodiversity, and a healthier and more livable urban environment.

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