Smog Summit calls for action to improve air quality|
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Representatives of the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario and the
Government of Canada met at Smog Summit 2001 today to report on progress since
last year's summit and sign the joint Toronto 2001 Inter-Governmental
Declaration on Clean Air, together with new signatories from municipal
governments in the Greater Toronto Area.
Smog Summit 2001, which opened at Toronto City Hall, is organized by the Clean
Air Partnership and hosted by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Atmospheric
Fund (TAF). The summit is sponsored by the Government of Canada, the Province
of Ontario, Enbridge Consumers Gas and Toronto Hydro Energy Services.
Besides government, the summit brings together corporations, non-government
organizations and members of the general public, aiming to better co-ordinate
and enhance their respective initiatives to reduce the occurrence of, and
health risk from, air pollution in Toronto and the surrounding area.
"Air quality isn't just Toronto's problem or Hamilton's problem or Sudbury's
problem," said Case Ootes, Deputy Mayor of Toronto. "It affects all of us,
because the air we breathe is shared by all of us. Alone, our efforts to reduce
emissions would be futile -- but by working together, we can make a difference.
We have that commitment today by all the people and various governments who
have come together today to lend support and sign the second Inter-Governmental
Declaration on Clean Air."
Ootes noted that Toronto Public Health estimates that, in any given year,
approximately 1,000 Toronto residents die prematurely, while another 5,500 are
hospitalized, as a result of air pollution.
"I am happy to report that the Government of Ontario has met and surpassed the
commitments we made at last year's summit," said Ontario Environment Minister
Elizabeth Witmer. "I look forward to working co-operatively to improve air
quality in Toronto and across the country."
The newly-established GTA Clean Air Council will follow up on key issues
identified at this, and past summits, as well as working with the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities, to explore opportunities for joint initiatives with
other municipalities across Canada and for sharing best practices information
on smog reduction.
"VIA Rail's new commuter strategy will help get more people into public
transport and out of their cars. Several other Transport Canada initiatives
announced today -- the Urban Transportation Showcase, Intelligent
Transportation Systems and new electric vehicle regulations -- are proof of our
commitment to tackling problems like urban smog," said Transport Minister David
Collenette. "All of these are made possible through effective partnerships and
a focus on local solutions."
Federal Environment Minister David Anderson said, "The Smog Summit may be a
Greater Toronto Area event, but the benefits are for all Canadians. Annual
events such as this add focus to our efforts to bring in policies and programs
for reducing the pollutants that contribute to dirty air and climate change."
All three levels of government also agreed to work with the organizers of the
Olympic Games -- should Toronto be successful in its bid to host the 2008
summer Games -- to contribute to a legacy of clean air for the Toronto region.