Dear Friends and Residents,
I have recently submitted two notices of motion that I would like to share with you. Although they are quite different, they both speak to sharing our limited resources in a thoughtful manner.
You can find the full details of these motions below.
As always, feel free to contact my office if you have any questions, comments or concerns.
Ward 22 – St. Paul's
1. NOTICE OF MOTION: Relieving Congestion by Increasing Fines and Enforcement for Motorists and Delivery Vehicles that Obstruct Traffic During Rush Hour PeriodsSummary:
Traffic congestion is a significant problem for Toronto's motorists, public transit users and cyclists. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently noted that the Greater Toronto Area suffers from the longest work commute times in North America. This congestion costs the region's economy an estimated $3.3 billion per year while negatively impacting on the quality of life of our residents. The long-term solutions to this problem include building a more accessible, extensive and efficient public transportation system in addition to encouraging car-pooling and cycling.
In the meantime, council can take small, but important, measures to alleviate traffic congestion. One such measure is to provide sufficient deterrents to motorists and delivery drivers that stop, stand, park illegally or otherwise obstruct traffic on arterial roads during rush hour. Far too often, entire lanes of major roads are blocked due to an individual pulling over to grab a coffee in the morning or a delivery vehicle choosing the afternoon rush period to drop off their goods. Drivers along arterials often use bicycle lanes as a parking lane, forcing cyclists to dangerously merge into traffic. During rush hour this creates very unsafe conditions for cyclists. While currently not permitted, it is clear that current fines and levels of enforcement are not sufficient to deter such activities.
This motion seeks to improve traffic flow during the morning and afternoon rush hour periods by increasing the fines and level of enforcement for individuals that obstruct other motorists, public transit users and cyclists.
** Please see Marcus Gee's column in the Globe & Mail on this proposed motion **
2. Notice of Motion to Request Provincial Environmental Assessment for Proposed Melancthon Mega Quarry
The City of Toronto has long recognized the important connections to its countryside and has repeatedly supported local and regional agriculture and food security initiatives that promote and protect the social, environmental and economic development interests of Toronto’s citizens and businesses.
In March 2011, a numbered Nova Scotia company presenting itself as The Highland Companies submitted applications to the Township of Melancthon and the Ministry of Natural Resources for approval to develop a massive limestone quarry in North America. The proposed site is located approximately 100 kilometres north of the City of Toronto and calls for a 2,316 acre quarry that would be 5kms wide and blasted to a level 200 feet below the water table in a sensitive recharge area at the headwaters of a number of important river systems that run through the GTA.
To support excavating this enormous crater, about 600 million litres of water would be pumped from the quarry floor back into the now pristine aquifer every day at the highest elevation in Southern Ontario. This is equivalent to 25% of the water consumed on a daily basis by Ontario’s entire population.
The main financial backer of this project is a Boston-based hedge fund called the Baupost Group .To date, the company has amassed approximately 8,000 acres of our Province’s highest quality (Class 1, according to the Canada Land Inventory classification system) prime agricultural farmland that is famous for its Honeywood Silt Loam soils, unique micro climate and its superior potato-growing capabilities.
This agricultural area supplies the equivalent of 25 lbs of potatoes to every resident of the GTA on an annual basis and provides approximately 50% of the potatoes consumed annually in Toronto. The loss of this agricultural area could have an adverse effect on Toronto's consumers of potato products.
The mega quarry application contains well over 3000 pages of technical studies, maps, models and forecasts and is currently being reviewed by the Township of Melancthon under the Planning Act and by the Ministry of Natural Resources under the Aggregate Resources Act. Melancthon is a very small municipality with an annual budget less than $3million. The municipality does not have the expertise or ability to finance the extraordinary resources required to undertake a comprehensive review of a proposal this large.
The proposed quarry is of serious concern to many Torontonians as demonstrated by the strong opposition that has been mounted by local residents in a few short months. Objections have already been filed by numerous agricultural organizations (Dufferin Federation of Agriculture, National Farmers’ Union, Ontario Farmland Trust etc), environment and sporting organizations (The Suzuki Foundation, Earthroots, Council of Canadians, Ecologos, Ontario Waterkeeper, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, etc.), First Nations communities and concerned citizens from across the province.
This is the largest quarry proposal ever presented in Canada, and its size, scope and potential impacts demands the most comprehensive review possible. The Environmental Assessment Act was established over thirty years ago to deal with large private sector undertakings of this kind and it provides a fair and reasonable legal process that is much more comprehensive than if it is simply reviewed under the Aggregate Resources and Planning Acts.