Toronto is taking an aggressive approach to tackling climate change with a new plan to transform the city into a green metropolis — or are they?
TransformTO, the new climate change policy being proposed to city council, was supposed to be discussed on May 24, but it was deferred until the July 5. This came as a disappointment to Toronto climate supporters, who would love to see the city embrace a plan that will actively decrease greenhouse gases in one of the Canada’s largest city.
The ambitious climate change plan would see Toronto reduce greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050. The city has already lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 24 per cent, which has exceeded the six per cent 2012 climate change goal. In order to meet this more strenuous climate change goal by 2050 though, serious action is needed. The plan will take aggressive action to lower emissions, including diverting 95 per cent of waste from landfills to recycling programs and 100 per cent of public use vehicles will use zero-carbon energy. There would be more focus on creating bike lanes, infrastructure related to low-carbon vehicles, and cycling parking.
The climate change plan also wants Toronto to focus on building green houses, condos, and apartment buildings in the future. The plan would mandate city structures to have near-zero greenhouse gases by 2030 and retrofit most other buildings by 2040. Retrofitting buildings will save 40 per cent of energy costs and the city also wants to use renewable energy that would lower the amount of heat that homes use to 20 per cent of the rate used in 2015. This goal would be achieved by collecting waste heat and converting it into power.
TransformTO is an ambitious move that will ultimately help support creating a greener and healthier city — if it gets off the ground, that is. The City of Toronto would benefit by taking the climate change plan seriously and pushing it through as a key item in the July 5 council meeting to ensure no more delays.
This week has been a whirlwind for the provincial government. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s is in Mexico City to discuss environmental and international relations, all the while promoting women within these industries.
The premier made the trek down south to discuss the importance of climate change and the economy with Mexican leaders, exporters, and potential investors and to host the first-ever Women in Leadership Climate Change Panel Discussion. The participants of this panel discussed the role that women can play in the economic transition to a low-carbon economy and explored the unique experiences of the Indigenous people in the fight against climate change.
Several other prominent women leaders were present as well, including the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, Her Excellency, Patricia Espinosa. Espinosa was elected executive secretary in May 2016 at the Paris Climate Change Conference. She is originally from Mexico and has worked in foreign affairs between the Americas for several years. Espinosa was joined on the panel by Tanya Muller Garcia, the Minister of the Environment of Mexico City. Garcia actively promoted cycling programs throughout Mexico City and played a large part in integrating the region’s transit system.
Wynne has had a large impact on the climate change agenda in Ontario, most recently with her adoption of cap and trade in Ontario. Part of her agenda in Mexico is to promote an open trade relationship with Mexico City, who has recently adopted a pilot project cap and trade program themselves. An interworking relationship of cap and trade with Mexico would have a significant economic impact on Ontario’s new climate change incentive, and would integrate will with the programs in California and Quebec. Recently, cap and trade has come under fire because Quebec and California have failed to sell all of their emissions, leaving both governments in debt. Many worry Ontario will suffer the same fate.
The climate change conference is a good opportunity for Wynne to show that Ontario is not concerned with the xenophobic agenda that Trump followers and the US is currently leading towards, and is instead open to creating trade partnerships involving climate change. It is inspiring to see a representative of the Canadian political fabric represent women interests, tackling environmental concerns, and promoting healthy international trade relations in the midst of struggling global unity.
It is easy to see this week as a win for Wynne.
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Planting fruits and veggies is a great way to spend time outside soaking up the sunshine — not to mention the delicious produce you’ll get out of it. Garden lovers know that Ontario has certain fruits and veggies that thrive in the region and many of them have to be planted, well, about now.
Gardening may seem time consuming but it teaches the value of patience and generates a newfound understanding of the hard work that goes into growing your own food. It is an initial investment but once you are in the swing of things, it is easy pea-sy!
First off, it is essential to determine when the last frost date is in your area so that you don’t accidentally kill your plants prior to their growth. The general date for Ontario is May 15th,, but last frost can range anywhere from May 15 to May 21. The farmer’s almanac, or otherwise known as the gardening bible, has a handy online tool to help out with the timing of seed planting. You can plug in your specific city, and it will lay out the specific plant times for various vegetables and fruits according to the weather that year.
Making a gardening plan or chart helps to plan out a planting schedule, so that you can ensure your plants are compatible. Tomatoes, for example, should not be planted beside potatoes because the soil quality weakens the sensitive tomato plants. Leafy greens are often compatible with most plants. In your plans, also remember to assess which plants need sunnier spots as opposed to more shade. Leafy greens can thrive in the shade, which allows you to plant vegetables like peppers, peas and carrots in the sun.
Let’s begin with leafy greens, which can be planted the earliest due to their hardiness in the colder Canadian climate. Lettuce, spinach, kale and cabbage can be planted in mid-march and harvested as soon as the beginning of June. If you get a head-start (no pun intended) on your these vegetables, you could be enjoying a homegrown salad just as summer arrives. Chard is also a great choice for a hardy leafy green. It will survive until hard frost and is more resilient than spinach. It’s important to remember that the soil temperature must be at least five degrees for the leafy greens to thrive. This can be easily determined by purchasing a thermometer and ticking it into the soil prior to planting.
Peas, onions and potatoes can be planted once the soil reaches an internal temperature of 10 degrees. These veggies can be planted in mid-may and will yield successful crops. Excluding potatoes, the rest of the veggies also grow quickly and can be harvested as early as July. Potatoes can be harvested in late August and are often used in yummy fall harvest soups. Potatoes are very resilient and can grow in a variety of climates, which makes it a safe bet for any type of garden.
More sensitive vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as most fruits, should be planted later in the season to ensure they obtain enough sunlight. Plant strawberries and tomatoes indoors first and transfer them outside in mid-June. Once you get them outside, make sure to tie them near a sturdy structure. Tomatoes are a vine-stalk vegetable and need to be propped up to thrive well in the garden. Though tomatoes are finicky, they grow very well in Ontario. The soil must be minimum 20 degrees for tomatoes.
If you want to try something a little more adventurous, try planting watermelon in late June. Be sure to have enough room for watermelon because it is a sprawling plant.
With fruits, insects may become an issue and natural pesticides can help keep bugs out of your garden. Vegetable or canola oil and garlic are natural repellants that can be mixed with water and applied. If cared for, strawberries can yield fruit for the whole summer and blackberries will provide a yummy supply of treats come fall.
Get that green thumb out and try your hand Get outside and try your green thumb out for a great outdoor experience this summer season. Whether you stick with just growing easy-going leafy greens or attempt the more specialized fruits and veggies, the outcome will be delicious. Trust me, there is nothing better than eating and sharing fruits and vegetables you grew yourself.
What’s your favourite fruits and veggies to grow? Let us know and post in the comments below!