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politics

Councillors Get Their Environmental Report Cards

See who made the grade in the Toronto Environmental Alliance end-of-term assessment.

The non-profit Toronto Environmental Alliance today released its City Council Enviro Report Card, and while 16 councillors received failing grades for their work over the past four years, the environmental dunce cap went to Mayor Rob Ford, who finished at the bottom of the class.

The TEA evaluated council members based on their voting record on 31 key environmental issues. There’s no gentle bell curve in the results—17 members of council received top marks for their environmental efforts and 17 members (including Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly) failed, leaving just nine councillors in the A-to-D range. The average grade was a disheartening C+.

Unsurprisingly, Ford’s aggressive brand of underachievement saw him land on the friendly side of environmental issues just 13 per cent of the time. “Torontonians should be profoundly disappointed with how Mayor Ford did,” said TEA executive director Franz Hartmann in a telephone interview. “His leadership on helping improve Toronto’s environment was absolutely non-existent.”

The report also shows a disparity between the priorities of suburban and Old Toronto councillors. Suburban councillors, along with suburban champion Ford, accounted for 15 of the 17 failing grades handed out. Top scores were apportioned more evenly, although councillors in the old city received the bulk of them. Encouragingly, council newcomer Peter Leon (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre), who in October 2013 filled the seat left vacant by MPP Doug Holyday, received a perfect score for the six environmental policy votes in which he participated.

In 2010, the TEA outlined six environmental priorities for the City to address during the 2010–14 term. Hartmann said council failed collectively to heed the organization’s suggestions, characterizing the past four years as a battle between those who wish to preserve green policies and services (such as community environment days and tree canopy maintenance), and those who wish to dismantle them. “And thankfully, the slackers—led by our mayor—who are intent on harming Toronto’s environment, lost.” Hartmann said the city is no worse off today than it was in 2010, “and given the relentless attacks on a whole bunch of environmental programs,” he added, “that’s something to be proud of. But at the same time, we need to do better.”

Today, the TEA advanced a new set of priorities, urging council to improve severe weather preparation, air quality, and transit, and to reduce waste and environmental toxins. Based on these five issues, the organization has developed a questionnaire to be sent to every candidate running for council this October. They will publish the results in advance of the election.

Click here to see if your councillor made the grade [PDF].

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