Citizens of Toronto and the GTA ready to kick smogging habit finds the Citizens' Panel of the Smog Summit|
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Five hundred people from Halton to Scarborough have a message for their
politicians on curbing air pollution: Just do it.
Participants shared their views at six Smog Citizens' Forums that wrapped up
this week. A citizens' panel consisting of representatives from the community,
youth, business, education and health fields attended all forums hosted by
various community groups in the Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, downtown
Toronto and Halton communities.
From their findings, the panel will present a 'call-to-action', together with a
Citizens' Declaration on Clean Air to representatives at this year's Smog
Summit on June 21.
On Toronto's first smog alert day of the season, a participant at the North
Toronto forum summed up what people were saying, "There are a lot of people
with really deep concerns about air quality and you have our backing to take
At age 12, Zoe Treble doesn't need anyone to tell her when the air is bad. "On
a day with no smog, I can run around without needing my puffers, but on smog
alert days, I need them more often . . . smog makes my eyes water sometimes,"
said Zoe. "My mom worries because my grandma has asthma too. And when grandma
gets sick, my mom worries about her and me," she said to a crowd of 75 people
at Metro Hall.
Participants were asked to come up with actions that government, industry and
the community could take to curb smog. The solutions suggested in Halton were
virtually the same as in Scarborough. Some of the recurring ideas included
ratifying Kyoto Protocol, better funding for transit, enforcement of
anti-idling bylaws, taxes on SUVs, full-cost accounting, and incentives for
people and businesses to use less energy and support renewable energy sources.
"They have great ideas," said panelist Jacquelyn Hayward. "People know it isn't
simple, but they are ready for the consequences and costs of taking action.
They are willing to do their part."
However, forum participants also want government initiative. "Citizens are
demanding that our leaders get in front of the crisis and make it possible for
people to live differently," said panelist Paul Young. In the words of a Halton
resident, "Make it easier for us to be green."
A resident told politicians who attended the Etobicoke community forum that
citizens are ahead of their governments on the need to take quick and decisive
action on smog. "I think that politicians are really timid and scared to
mandate what people in their hearts really want," he said. "It's like a smoker
that wants to quit but needs someone to tell them to do it. We're like that.
The blue box program was strange at first, but people love it now."
"This is the first time we've held citizens' forums," said organizer Eva
Ligeti. "The public's response should give elected officials from the federal,
provincial and municipal governments the support they need to move quickly on
The third annual Smog Summit on June 21, 2002 will bring together government,
citizens and businesses to make new commitments to advancing the smog agenda in
the Greater Toronto Area. The Smog Summit is sponsored by the City of Toronto,
Enbridge Consumers Gas, the Government of Canada, Toronto Hydro, the Province
of Ontario, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, and the GTA Clean Air Council.
For more information, call 416-392-7204 or visit www.smogsummit.org.