“Every political discussion is a question of vision and values,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc at Theology on Tap’s April event. “You just need to tease these out.” He urged his audience to use their faith commitment to transform the world. As a city councillor for the past 15 years, with a PhD in theology and social ethics, he is well placed to discuss this topic.
The challenge, he said, was to build the city of God in today’s multicultural and fast-growing city. He went on to outline the five key environmental issues at city hall and his and the city’s actions and visions:
“Toronto is one of the worst cities for air quality in North America,” he said. He cited the coke plants in the Ohio Valley, our own plants and finally Toronto’s cars as the main offenders. Over the next few years, the TTC will start replacing existing buses with diesel-electric hybrid buses. This new engine technology reduces pollutants associated with both smog and greenhouse gases and brings fuel savings of 20% to 30% over the life cycle of the bus.
What to do with the garbage we produce? Mihevc listed the steps the city has taken to stream our waste so far: the blue box, reducing the garbage by 30%; the green box, another 30% reduction. The vision: “there is no such thing as garbage – a move to a garbage-less society by the year 2012.”
“Canadians are some of the worst users of water in the world,” said Mihevc. Since most of our water both comes from and returns to Lake Ontario, he spoke of the importance of disconnecting our downspouts, eliminating the use of pesticides on our lawns and maintaining a greenbelt around the city.
“Just try to take on the car culture,” he said ruefully, reviewing his experiences with the St. Clair designated streetcar route issue. Challenges are many, from the gutting of public transit funding during the Harris years, to the growing Toronto population with its increasing demands for oil. His vision included more light-rail trains, bus lanes and efficient building.
“The days are gone when we see all high-rises as evil,” he said. He spoke of intensifying the population near subway stops and on avenues by building higher buildings, “We just can’t continue to expand outward the way we’ve been doing.” That desire for a “first house” should shift to a “first condo.”
Author & Photo By: Gisela Côté
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