Governments commit to clean air solutions and address environmental issues at Smog Summit |
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The fourth annual Smog Summit brought together all levels of government in the
GTA today in Toronto, to report on accomplishments, announce new smog and
energy reduction initiatives, and commit to individual and joint actions
through the signing of the 2003 Toronto and Region Inter-governmental
Declaration on Clean Air.
Among the key highlights was a joint commitment from Health Canada, Environment
Canada and Toronto Public Health to build on the recent Toronto Public Health
study, Air Pollution and Physical Activity: Examination of Toronto Air Data to
Guide Public Advice on Smog and Exercise (June 2003), in an effort to help
parents, teachers and staff develop policies regarding outdoor physical
activity on smog alert days.
In addition, the GTA Clean Air Council, in partnership and with financial
support from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, committed to taking steps
towards the identification of municipal measures and actions for reducing smog
and greenhouse gas emissions, as well quantifying the resulting emission
Participants of the municipal roundtable, moderated by Suhana Meharchand,
engaged in an informed discussion and showcased success stories on topics
ranging from transportation; energy; business, industry and government; natural
and built environment; to education and outreach.
"The Government of Canada has made strong progress on the clean air agenda,
dealing directly with sources of air pollution," said the Honourable David
Anderson, Minister of the Environment. "In keeping with this year's Smog Summit
theme, we must continue to emphasize the link between energy use and air
pollution. In addition, we are working to implement Canada's Plan on Climate
Change - a plan which also works towards the goal of cleaner air."
"The Ernie Eves government is making excellent progress in reducing emissions,"
said Ontario's Alternative Energy Commissioner Steve Gilchrist. "We have put in
place measures, including tax incentives and tax holidays, to encourage the
development of alternative fuels, energy conservation, and clean energy
production. The bottom line is that improving air quality is everyone's
business and we're making it easier for everyone to do their part."
A recently launched report by Dr. Sheela Basrur, Toronto's Medical Officer of
Health, entitled a Call to Action on Physical Activity, states that the
magnitude of health risks associated with physical inactivity is reaching
"With the number of smog alert days on the rise each year, air pollution
continues to pose a significant health risk, especially for vulnerable people
with breathing and heart problems," said Joe Mihevc, City of Toronto Councillor
and Chair of the Board of Health, representing Mayor Mel Lastman and Toronto
City Council. "Through collaborative action and involvement, we will continue
to explore solutions to improve air quality and break down the air pollution
barriers to public health."
According to keynote speaker Dr. Ted Boadway, Executive Director of Health
Policy at the Ontario Medical Association, the case against smog pollution is
getting stronger and the need for clean, breathable air is more urgent than
ever. "We have known about smog's serious health impact for a long time but
recent medical studies are just now showing us exactly how smog's poisons
affect our bodies," said Dr. Boadway.
"We're proud to support government, organizations and individuals at the Smog
Summit as they identify ways to reduce smog and improve the air we breathe,"
said Jim Schultz, President of Enbridge Gas Distribution, a founding sponsor of
the Smog Summit. "Enbridge and its customers help contribute to cleaner air by
using environmentally-preferable natural gas for heat and transportation. Since
1995, through our energy efficiency programs, customers have also saved enough
natural gas to heat all the detached single-family homes in Toronto for a year."
"Building on the success of last year's Summit, the GTA Clean Air Council
continues to grow as more cities, towns and regional governments express
interest in developing initiatives to clean the air and improve the
environment," commented Eva Ligeti, executive director of the Clean Air
Representatives from the community, local industry and government including
small, medium and large businesses showcased smog and energy reduction success
stories, and encouraged individual action at community forums held earlier this
month, leading up the Summit.
Smog Summit 2003 was sponsored by Enbridge Gas Distribution, the Government of
Canada, the Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto, the Toronto Atmospheric
Fund, Toronto Hydro, Ontario Power Generation, the Clean Air Partnership and
the Greater Toronto Area Clean Air Council (GTA-CAC).
Eva Ligeti, Executive Director, Clean Air Partnership