Blog /now what?

March 28, 2005 04:42 +0000  |  Why I'm Here 3

i just got this letter from joe pantalone's assistant. he'd sent me an email earlier this week asking me to detail out all the stuff i wanted to do in toronto, so i sent him that big long list. for the purposes of good linking, here's the initial letter i sent to his office, and the following was his response:


There's a lot here, which is why I'm sure it took you a year to compile, so I'll take them one at a time. I should note that although Deputy Mayor Pantalone is the Chair of the Roundtable on the Environment, but that the Roundtable's role is to provide advice at the request of City Council. It is not, as of yet, directed to act as a think-tank for new initiatives. Instead, you may wish to forward waste-related issues to the City of Toronto Works Committee for consideration. You could do so by writing a letter to Councillor Jane Pitfield, Chair of the Works Committee.

I can tell you that the City has had some similar ideas in recent years, and is already implementing some of your solutions. As you requested, these are simply my comments.

  • Better recycling boxes on the street: You're right that there is a lack of consistency. The City is currently piloting new bins which will make separation much easier. The pilot project, in conjunction with EUCAN, hits the streets in the next few months. In fact, mechanical separation has improved so much that we can do a lot of it ourselves, and just focus on getting people to put waste in any receptacle (not as easy as it sounds).
  • Multi-residential recycling: Recycling isn't nearly as user-friendly as it needs to be in apartments and condominiums. For every person who does the right thing and separates their garbage, walking it down to the appropriate bins, there's another one who stuffs it down the garbage chute. You're right that there needs to be incentive for property managers to promote recycling.

    In the recent budget cycle, the city raised fees on garbage in multi-residential units as a way to push property managers to accommodate waste diversion programs, like recycling. We'll be expanding the green bin program into multi-residential units soon. Also, I know of at least one developer who has installed a waste-separating garbage chute -- residents switch the bin remotely from the garbage chute access on their floor, so their waste is dumped into the appropriate bin below. It's still in the early phases, but developers are finding solutions.

  • Re-usable Fast Food Containers: This sounds like an interesting idea. However, the City doesn't have the regulatory powers required to force fast-food companies to implement it, the money to enforce it, nor does it have the capital required to fund it. Famously, the City once tried to force the LCBO (the world's largest purchaser of alcoholic products) to implement a bottle-return system, and the Harris government introduced last-minute legislation to prohibit the City from following through. The provincial Ministry of the Environment might be a better place to start. You are right, however, that a greater degree of responsibility should be placed on the producers of waste to be responsible for it. This is already the standard in many countries with much more developed environmental policy.
  • Wind Turbines: The wind turbine in the City is actually operated by Windshare, in a multi-partner relationship. The best organisation to consider your idea would be Toronto Hydro, who are already working on developing new projects for wind power in the City of Toronto. I'm sure they'd appreciate your suggestions.
  • Pro-rated Toll Roads: The last idea is, as you suggested, not something the municipality is considering. During the election campaign, Mayor David Miller was clear that he would not consider tolls on Toronto roads, as they have done in cities like London, England. Many environmental groups, such as the Toronto Environmental Alliance, have asked for consideration to these kinds of tolls that are pro-rated by size of vehicle.

Thank you for your comments.

so now there's all these different directions to go and no real clear path. my brain is pretty cooked right now from a minor sunstroke i picked up from the beach in north carolina, so i'm going to give this more thought in the coming days, but i'd like to hear some suggestions / recommendations from the lot of you.


28 Mar 2005, 5:09 a.m.  | 

"can't see the forest for the trees..." sound familiar enough? ok, now it's your turn to take one of those items on the list and spend some time on it. One at a time, my good man... Just my opinion, the wind turbine issue seems to be the most positive and ongoing one on that list. If I were you, it'd be the first one(s) I'd tackle. Also on the side, I'd forward the very ideas you sent Joe Pantalone to City of Toronto Works Committee and also a letter to Councillor Jane Pitfield as per the assistant's suggestion. There. That should give you a good start. :)

4 Apr 2005, 8:04 p.m.  | 

Don't be rude. Please suffer us fools who always manage to hit the wrong button.

Glad you sent the response letter. I'm amazed you got such a detailed and helpful one. Basically, he's telling you that the government doesn't have the clout or mandate to implement some of your ideas. Directing you to environmental groups is probably best. Once the voice of these groups is loud enough with a good idea, then the government usually gets involved and legislates, if it can, to effect the appropriate change. I suggest you approach each agency, hydro, etc. one at a time and keep pushing.

4 Apr 2005, 8:14 p.m.  | 

"approach each agency" -- easier said than done. i'll try to figure out how to do that, though if my recent experience with toronto hydro is anything like the future, i'm in trouble (or, we all are)

as for the "being rude" i assume you mean the error message you got when you hit "add comment" with no comment in the box :-) (yes i see the errors as they happen). i actually thought it was funny, not rude. o well. i'll see if i can think of a better one.

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