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New climate change legislation puts emphasis on electric cars

The Ontario government has finally released the long-awaited Climate Change Action Plan — and it is jam packed with lots of incentives for electric vehicles and green home retrofits.

The strategy works in tandem with the cap and trade program finalized by the Liberals a few months ago. This strategy is expected to create around $1.9 billion in revenue through the auctioning of emission credits, which will then be invested into a new Greenhouse Gas Reduction account. These funds will be “responsibly and transparently invested into actions that directly reduce greenhouse gas pollution, create jobs, and help people and businesses shift to a low-carbon economy.”

One of the biggest concerns people had with the government’s climate strategy was that the plan would include a ban on natural gas and would negatively affect businesses and drivers that use a lot of carbon. The 86-page document addresses this concern by saying “it will not take away personal choice: no one will have to stop using gas in their home or give up their gas-powered car by a certain date. Rather, the plan creates the conditions that provide choice. It gives consumers and businesses more reasons to reduce their carbon footprint, and creates competitive conditions for the adoption of low-carbon technology.”

Here are some of the highlights:

  • A Green Bank will be established to help homeowners and businesses access and finance energy-efficient technologies to reduce greenhouse gasses. This includes a number of rebates for retrofits in social housing. Homes being sold after 2019 will be provided with a free energy audit.
  • More than one third of Ontario’s greenhouse gasses are created by transportation. Cars and trucks make up 70 per cent of this carbon. The Ontario government is offering rebates of up to $14,000 per eligible electric vehicles, including a $1,000 rebate for charging stations. The goal is to have every new home buying built after 2018 to include a charging plug in the garage.
  • The government will establish a four-year free overnight electric vehicle charging program for residents starting in 2017.
  • A “cash for clunkers” program will work with the rebates for electric vehicles to get older, less efficient vehicles off the road. Companies and drivers who buy green vehicles will receive a special license plate that will allow free access to provincial HOV and tolled lanes.
  • Focus on researching and developing new green technologies and transitional allowances for high-polluting businesses.
  • Emphasis on implementing more cycling and walking networks throughout the province to rid gridlock and therefore reduce the amount of carbon emitted by vehicles on the roads.

The purpose of all of these programs is to cut Ontario’s greenhouse gas pollution to 15 per cent bellow 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent by 2030, and 80 per cent by 2050.

The government is spending between $5.9 billion to $8.3 billion over the next five years on new programs, incentives, rebates, and green technologies. The $1.9 billion earned by selling emission credits through the cap and trade program will make up some of these funds.

The plan will add about $5 a month to home heating bills and 4.3 cents a litre to gas prices.

The Climate Change Action Plan outlines the provincial (and sometimes municipal) responsibilities for the next five years and will be reviewed and updated every five years after the fact. An implementation update will be provided annually for transparency.

Minister steps down to help Ontario make gender parity pledge

A cabinet shuffle is on its way, and a certain Ontario MPP is standing aside to make room for a more gender-diverse leadership.

Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced Monday that he will be stepping down from his position to make room for more women in the cabinet.

“I have three daughters, all confident and accomplished young women. With my wonderful wife, they are the joy of my life. Thinking of them, I’ve often dreamed of a day when the question of gender parity wouldn’t even arise, because it would just be taken for granted,” McMeekin wrote on his Facebook.

“But sometimes the best way for a man to advance the equality of women may be to step back and make room at the table. For me, this is such a time.”

While this may seem like a noble gesture, it’s likely that Minister McMeekin already knew there were a number of incredibly talented and well-credentialed women ready to take his place in the upcoming cabinet shuffle. It has long been rumoured that a cabinet shuffle will be announced after the legislature breaks for the summer (which is said to occur on Thursday), and it’s entirely plausible that MPPs were already given their notice. I doubt the Premier would have allowed him to say it if she didn’t know for certain the new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was going to be a woman.

Despite his good intentions, McMeekin has put himself in a strange position. It’s true that more positions of power should be opened up to women, but it’s a bit condescending for a man to say he stepped down to allow it. By phrasing it this way, it becomes less of an accomplishment for women, and more of a logistical issue to be rectified.

The provincial government has been under pressure to even out their cabinet after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted on a federal cabinet consisting of equal parts women and men. “Because it’s 2016,” he said in a mic-dropping speech after the announcement. This will be a greater challenge for the Ontario cabinet, which currently consists of eight women (including the Premier) and 19 men.

McMeekin’s announcement came the day before the Ontario government announced a target to help reduce the gender gap that exists within government agencies. By 2019, Ontario wants women to make up at least 40 per cent of all appointments to every provincial board and agency. A lofty, but not impossible, goal.

“Ontario is also encouraging businesses to, by the end of 2017, set a target of appointing 30 per cent women to their boards of directors. Once businesses set the target, they should aim to achieve it within three to five years,” a press release stated.

Wynne made the announcement in the presence of representatives from Catalyst Canada and UN Women, the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality, at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management Tuesday morning.

Hon. Minister Glen Murray deserves the spotlight

It seems like every week a new headline relating to climate change is gracing the front pages of the news.  Whether it’s the unruly weather or the destruction of a natural habitat, it seems like climate change is on everyone’s mind.

The Ontario government has made a number of promises to invest in green retrofits, electric vehicles, and renewable energy, and for that, Women’s Post salutes them. It’s impossible not to see the negative effects climate change is having on this planet, and it’s time for Canada, especially Ontario, to take action.

But all of these changes would not be possible without the leadership of one man — the Honourable Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray.

Minister Murray is enthusiastic, driven, and level-headed — something all politicians can’t claim. His extensive political career began in Winnipeg, where he acted as city councillor before becoming Mayor in 1998. It’s worth mentioning that he was the first openly-gay mayor of a large city in North America, which was a big deal at the time.

After moving to Toronto in 2010, he was elected into the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Since then, he has held the position of Minister of Research and Innovation, Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, Minister of Transportation, Minister of Infrastructure, and finally Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Minister Murray has thrived in each of these positions and has incorporated the sustainable practices he has learnt throughout his political career to push through impressive legislation. The minister was instrumental in the creation and adoption of the cap-and-trade regulations that passed through the legislature in mid-May. The policy will place a cap on carbon emissions and allow companies to sell or trade unused credits for profit. This will ultimately reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emitted from high-polluting industries. The government will be auctioning off a number of credits to companies that may have a hard time adjusting to the cap. In 2017, emission allowances are 142,332,000 tones, which will decrease over four years to 124,668,000 in 2020.

The program will take effect on July 1.

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity today,” Murray said after the cap-and-trade policy was revealed. “Ontario is doing its part to reduce harmful greenhouse gas pollution by putting in place a cap and trade program to limit emissions and invest in the kind of innovative solutions that will give our kids and grandkids the sustainable and prosperous legacy they deserve.”

Through the cap-and-trade regulations, Minister Murray has ensured $1.9 billion in additional revenue for the provincial government. This funding will be used to support future green initiatives.

In the next few weeks Murray will unveil the provincial government’s ultimate climate change plan, which promises to help Ontario households and businesses adopt low- and no-carbon energy in homes and the workplace. It also puts an emphasis on incentives for electric vehicles and charging stations. The climate change strategy is said to cost an average household about $13 a month, but is meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

And these are only a few of Minister Glen Murray’s accomplishments, just from the past year!

Later this month, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is expected to do a major cabinet shuffle — and all Women’s Post can do is hope that Minister Murray is given the opportunity to expand on his vision. He has spearheaded a number of environmentally friendly and revenue building policies over the last year. What is needed now is the strength, determination, and tenacity to implement them — and Minister Murray has that in spades.

If Ontario wants to prove that it is serious about fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse emissions, Minister Murray has proven his ability to steer this through. The political arena doesn’t support a rising star and we can only hope his cabinet supports him to carry out his role as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. His consistent hard work, determination, and refusal to back down under pressure from private industries makes him the ideal candidate for the position.

Which Electric Vehicle should you buy?

Buying an electric vehicles (EV) is the way of the future. If you are looking for a new slick ride that is environmentally-friendly, there are a variety of well-built cars showing up on the market.

Picking through the plethora of EVs can be time-consuming and confusing, but considering a few main factors will help to narrow your search and find the perfect vehicle for you. The first thing you have to do is narrow down what type of EV you are looking for. There are several types of EVs, including Battery EVs Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles, Hybrids, and Fuel-cell EVs.

Battery EVs drive entirely on a battery and electric drive without a conventional internal combustion engine. They need a charging station and can also recharge their batteries through regenerative braking. Plug-in Hybrids run mostly on battery units, but are also equipped with an internal combustion engine that can recharge the battery or replace the electric drive if needed. Hybrid vehicles do not have a plug-in system and instead batteries are recharged from an electric motor driven by the engine in the vehicle. Fuel-cell EVs are the newest technology on the market and instead have a battery cell that creates energy from hydrogen and oxygen instead of a traditional battery charging pack.

Does that make sense? Next you have to consider how often you will be using the vehicle. If you drive a far distance, a Battery EV might not be the best option because it cannot drive more than 180 km without a recharge. A plug-in hybrid is a better alternative in this case because it has a back-up engine.

Your choice will also depend on the availability of charging stations in your region. If public charging stations are available, it is possible to charge a Battery EV during the day, but if not it may be better to have an internal combustion engine in the car for emergencies. Fuel-cell EVs were just released in February 2015 and there are currently only two hydrogen refuel stations in Canada. If you have money to invest though, this technology is due to become the future of EVs.

Currently, Plug-in Hybrids and Hybrids lead the EV market. As the popularity in EVs rise in the next 10 years, Battery and Fuel-cell EVs will take over because these two types of EVs are fuel-saving and have low environmental impact. However, they are more expensive than the other options. At the Green Living Show this year, the Chevrolet Volt, which is a plug-in hybrid, won the 2016 Green Car Award.

The Chevrolet Volt is $25,720 and is available for up to a $7,500 rebate from the government upon purchase. The Volt allows you to drive 85 km on the battery and up to 675 km with a full charge and a full tank of gas. The vehicle is also very sleek and looks like a regular vehicle, which is appealing to a buyer who is new to the world of EVs. The Ford Fusion Energi is another Plug-in Hybrid that can drive 60 km and ranges from $23,673 to $39,280. The electric battery also has a plug-in capability to charge the battery using a 120-volt outlet, which gives it more accessibility.

The Tesla Model X is the most well-known battery powered vehicle and sets the bar for Battery EVs. The Model X is $100,300 and is the arguably the best EV on the market. It can drive 412 km because of a supercharger network that can charge in a matter of minutes as opposed to hours. This helps extend the reach of the battery powered EV substantially. The Nissan Leaf is another contender as a battery-powered EV and is $32,698. It can drive up to 172km with a fully powered battery. You can also start charging the EV remotely through an app on your phone when it is plugged in.

EVs are the way of the future and are the most worthy investment if you are interested in buying a car. These vehicles are environmentally friendly, cost-saving, and have a variety of features that leave their fuelled competitors in the dust. Looking through the different options has me excited for the future of cars. EVs only seem to get better and better as larger companies such as Tesla and Chevrolet invest in a greener future for Canada.

What is your favourite EV? Post in the comments below.

Renewable vanity is the future

As Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX took the stage at the recent Model 3 unveiling, the world watched what many people claimed to be Tesla and Mr. Musk’s defining moment. They’d been building towards that moment since their inception; a relatively affordable, fully electric car that appeals to the masses. And they did not disappoint. The Model 3, like all of Tesla’s vehicles, appears beautiful and sleek, while promising to go far and fast on a single charge.

Musk, perhaps better than anyone, understands what it takes to get us to a future without the burning of fossil fuels and into the brave new world of sustainable transportation: people like nice things. That is a fact and not necessarily one we should stick our noses up at; it’s just the way we are. And Musk knows it: to have any chance at all of transforming an industry, a mindset and an utterly unsustainable addiction to fossil fuels, we need to appeal to the vanity that’s so innately baked into human nature.

This line of thinking should extend into all areas of renewable tech. The design process should encompass not just the visual appeal of things, but the function and usability as well. Tesla’s cars, while beautiful, are just as much about the entire experience. From handling to speed to software updates that help drivers avoid the costly regular maintenance found in traditional dealership models, they offer consumers the first real end-to-end all-electric experience that is actually exciting.

It’s as much an exercise in branding, communications, and marketing strategy as it is about the vehicles. They present themselves with all the appeal of a luxury car maker with the added benefit of sustainability. In fact, unlike other electric cars which sacrifice certain benefits such as speed and power, Tesla positions themselves as a contemporary to traditional luxury brands like Porsche, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.

For other renewable energy sources to find success they must learn from Tesla’s approach. While the heart of any sustainable product needs to centre around its technology and environmental benefits, it still needs to appeal to consumers. And as they know, that appeal must drive straight into the heart of people’s vanity.

Here are a two other renewable products doing just that:

  • Solar Shingles: These shingles combine thin-film PV (photovoltaic, i.e. solar panels) cells with modules based on flexible CIGS (Copper Indium/Gallium di-Selenide) technology. Dow Solar’s version is designed to integrate inline with composition asphalt shingles, laminated architectural shingles, concrete and clay tile, cedar shake, polymer and traditional slate. Instead of attaching the shingles to a thermoplastic base with messy adhesives, Dow’s version features a mechanical interlock system to link the shingle-modules to each other. The system not only lowers installation costs, but also makes it easier to repair or replace a damaged module while integrating in a more visually appealing way to the over design of a home. Say goodbye to those traditional clunky solar panels.
  • Trinity Wind Turbine: this portable turbine converts into a three-blade, horizontal type wind turbine that comes in four sizes – the Trinity 50, 400, 1000 and 2500. These are basically larger versions with increasing size and levels of power generation, and which also convert from horizontal to vertical axis turbines. The Trinity 50, costing around $400, provides 50-watt generation and is only twelve inches high when folded. The minimum speed for the Trinity to work is 4 mph (6.5 km/h). Once speeds reach 25 mph (40 km/h), the turbine can be converted to the vertical setting. The Trinity also comes with a smartphone app, which allow users to monitor the battery level, turn the blades on or off, see how much electricity is being generated as well as the historical data of wind and energy generated. How cool it would be to have a wind turbine you can carry with one hand.

What do you think? Is vanity the key to a successful renewable energy technology? Let us know in the comments below!

37 muncipalities approved for Ontario cycling funding

Ontario is well on its way to becoming one of the provinces most dedicated to cycling, with $10 million funding for the Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program.

Cycling Infrastructure is a part of the province’s #CycleON Action Plan 1.0, which is a plan to increase accessibility for bike riding. Ontario is allocating funding for cycling lanes, off-road cycling, cycling traffic signals and signs, transportation bridges and bike racks. The funding will be allocated to 37 municipalities across the province. Municipalities were eligible for funding up to 50 per cent of the total project, with a maximum of $325,000 per municipality. The program was launched on July 3, 2015 and nearly 150 municipalities showed interest.  Out of the 37 approved municipalities, 25 areas are set to receive the maximum amount of funding.

Toronto and the GTHA, Whitby, York Region, Richmond Hill, Brampton, Markham, Newmarket, Mississauga, Niagara Region and Tecumseh received maximum funding. To the east, Brockville, Peterborough, Ottawa, United areas of Prescott and Russell will also receive $325,000 for cycling projects. In Southwestern Ontario, Chatham-Kent, Cambridge, London, Lasalle, Kitchener, Kingsville, and Windsor has been approved. Northern Ontario will also receive the highest possible amount in Orillia, Thunder Bay, North Bay, Temiskaming Shores.

#CycleON Action Plan 1.0  outlines the guiding principles to make Ontario one of the top cycling destinations in the world. The plan sets out five goals for 2033.

The 20-year plan outlined specific objectives to create an ideal cycling network. These objectives stress the importance of creating a diverse cycling community, improving infrastructures to benefit cyclists on the road, and making highways and streets safer. It also emphasized that promoting great cycling trails to encourage more people to use their bikes and increase cycling tourism opportunities would help develop cycling as a way to commute as well.

With more investment and infrastructure into creating safe and fun cycling paths, it will create a stronger biking community and healthier people. It will be exciting to see the results of the municipalities approved for cycling funding and to bike throughout Ontario on well-funded paths.

Nothing comes of Ontario’s Equal Pay Day

Ontario’s Equal Pay Day came and went without much fuss.

Women working full-time in the province only earn about 73.5 cents to every dollar a man makes. And this is in 2016.

April 19 marked Equal Pay Day in Ontario — the day in which a woman’s yearly earnings will catch up to the average salary of a man. In essence, it takes four extra months of work for a woman to make the same as a man.

Despite the fact that half of Canada’s cabinet are women and that our Prime Minister self-identifies as a feminist, there hasn’t been much done to ensure equality in the workplace. Ontario’s gender gap continues to grow. It’s gotten to the point where women in the United States are making on average five cents more than women in Ontario.

What’s even more surprising was that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne did not make a speech or even release a statement about Equal Pay Day. Instead, a press release was sent out early Tuesday morning regarding the results of consultations conducted by Ontario’s Gender Wage Gap Steering Committee. The report was the product of 18 weeks of surveys and in-person conversation.

The women who participated in the consultation said they often felt as if they have to prove themselves in the workplace and that some fields, especially early childhood education, should be presented as a gender-equal profession. At the same time, schools should be encouraging women to get involved in STEM fields or skilled trades at a young age.

The press release also provided an overview of everything the Ontario government has done over the last year to help reduce this gender gap. Some of these initiatives include the following:

  • A regulation that requires company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange to report on their approach to increase the number of women in management positions.
  • Increase wages by $2 an hour (including benefits) for early childhood educators and child care professionals.
  • Increase hourly wages of personal support workers
  • Invest $120 million over three years for new licensed child care spaces in schools
  • Implementing a number of training programs for skilled trades, information technology, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship.

These are all beneficial programs and regulations that will no doubt encourage more women to aim for managerial positions, but it isn’t nearly enough. Many of these regulations involve increasing wages of typically female jobs like child care worker or a personal support worker, instead of putting the onus on businesses to hire women in positions of power.

Regulations and programs are great, but a change in mentality is necessary to actually reduce the gender gap. How does this start? It begins by rewarding companies that hire using equal opportunity, encouraging more women to apply for managerial or board positions, and addressing the stigmas that are so obviously engrained in the hiring process.

Three years ago Ontario announced Equal Pay Day. It remains the only province to have done so. In a country that prides itself on equality, its shocking that more governments aren’t following suit and bringing awareness to the startling inequality that exists within the workplace.

Cap and trade details released in 2016 budget

For all of the Ontarians that were muddled by the lack of information in the cap and trade proposal, many of those questions have been resolved in the 2016 Ontario budget.

The Ontario Liberal government has released specific details about the cap and trade program, which is set to begin in January 2017 under the new Climate Change Mitigation and Low Carbon Economy Act. The cap and trade program will enforce a “cap” on the amount of greenhouse gases that each company can produce. Companies will be able to then “trade” unused carbon credits by selling them to companies that exceed their “cap”.

This enables companies that use clean energy to create financial gains and penalizes companies that have high levels of carbon emissions. The cap and trade program is expected to raise $428 million in 2016-2017 and is then projected to raise up to $1.8 to $1.9 billion in 2017-2018.  Cap and trade is one of the many initiatives the provincial government has enacted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent below 1990 emissions by 2050.

All of the proceeds from the cap and trade program will go to projects and funds in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account, which will then support other green projects. The Ontario government has promised the money raised will be transparent, with results of the funds available for the public. Possible green projects include public transit, electric vehicle incentives, social housing retrofits including geothermal infrastructure, and clean-technology incentives for industries.

Ontario’s cap and trade program is mandatory for industries and institutions that emit 25,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gases annually. It also includes suppliers and distributors of fuel that distribute 200 litres of fuel or more per annum. Companies that import electricity and fuels into Ontario would also be included in the cap and trade. The businesses mandatorily included within the program are representative of 83 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced in the province.

Initially, Ontario will give free permits to industries that are especially vulnerable to the cap and trade program, including steel or cement manufacturing, to avoid “carbon leakage”, the feared result of companies leaving Ontario to go to other jurisdictions where the carbon cap wouldn’t apply.

Companies and organizations that produce over 25,000 tones of greenhouse gases due to it’s size — like university campuses, hospitals, and electricity generators — will have to purchase carbon permits, which is how the government will make substantial profit in the coming years. If these industries apply clean technologies, they will be able to then “trade” their extra credits and make money from carbon-emitting industries.

Free credits will also be provided on a one-time basis to industries that have voluntarily lowered emissions targets earlier then the January 2017 deadline. Companies with between 10,000 and 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases will also have the choice to participate in the cap and trade program, but won’t be forced to.

The “cap” is also set to decline annually to meet 2020 carbon emissions targets and will decrease at a rate of 4.17 per cent per year. A slow decrease in rates allows companies to invest in clean industries slowly and adjust to the new cap and trade program.

Many Ontarians are concerned about rising prices from the cap and trade program. Gas prices are set to increase 4.3 per cent per litre and natural gas costs for home heating will rise $5 per month. Though these increasing prices will put more financial pressures on the consumer, energy programs are being introduced to help mitigate the costs.

Recently, the government introduced an incentive of up to $14,000 to purchase an electric vehicle. Enbridge Gas Distrubtion and Union Gas are also offering programs to help homeowners reduce their electricity costs. An incentive ranging between $1000 and $2,500 is offered if a consumer replaces their furnace and water heating system to a more energy reductive alternative. Enbridge also offers a $75 incentive for an adaptive thermostat, which helps save on heating costs as well.

Why not use tolls and fees to fund green projects?

Over the last few months, the City of Toronto and the Ontario government have made some amazing announcement focused on green energy, infrastructure, and public transportation. The most recent announcement was made Tuesday: the Ontario government released $750 million in funding (in the form of a green bond) for environmentally friendly, low-carbon infrastructure projects, the majority of which would be dedicated to transit in the GTHA.

These investments are a good thing. A great thing, even. This city and this province must invest in infrastructure and transit. But, where is this money coming from?

A green bond is a great tool to raise capital for projects with environmental benefits, but eventually the bond holders need to be paid back. Investors provide funds for these projects and the government guarantees a return for each investor. When asked by Women’s Post if there was a plan to pay back these investors, this was the response given:

“Ontario’s Green Bonds rank equally with Ontario’s other bonds,” a spokesperson for the Ontario Minister of Finance said in a written statement. “Payments of principal and interest will be a charge on and payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of Ontario and not tied to the revenues of any particular projects.”

Luckily, the maturity date for the green bond is in 2023, which means that the government has time to educate the public on the need to come up with the revenue for these investments. And it will be interesting to see what forms of repayment they create.

Tolling — while under both the provincial and municipal responsibility depending on the road — would be an ideal form of revenue. Ontario is starting a pilot project in the summer that will allow single-occupancy vehicles to use the High-Occupancy Vehicle lane meant for carpooling. Vehicle owners will be able to purchase a permit and pay a toll for its usage. This is the first time a responsible government has risked their positions to do the right thing.  Toronto is a long way off, with only a handful of councillors willing to stand up for the revenue tools Toronto needs to pay for the capital projects the city has committed to.

The money collected from these tolls can be used to fund the  the relief subway line which will provide an alternate east-west route to the Gardiner. Council has to make the bold move to call for other user fees – tolls, carbon tax, parking increase – so that property owners won’t carry the full burden of our capital deficit.

Both the city and the province are trying to find money in the budget — which amounts to shuffling through the same insufficient funds that caused our infrastructure deficit.   Toronto councillors will need to show the bravery their province counterparts have demonstrated in committing to high occupancy toll lanes.  The obvious solution is to use existing green projects such as tolling, congestion fees, or even a carbon-tax , to fund infrastructure investments.

The biggest problem facing all levels of government is that most Canadians want the infrastructure but they don’t want to pay for it.   The province is doing an amazing job ensuring that transit and green infrastructure is built, but Canadians have to start doing our part.

Let’s support the use of tolls, congestion fees, carbon taxes – whatever our council might bravely suggest — and start investing in Toronto’s long-term future.

Ontario raises over $700 million for green transit

Tuesday, the Ontario government announced $750 million in funding (in the form of a green bond) for environmentally friendly, low-carbon infrastructure projects, the majority of which is dedicated to transit in the GHTA.

Proceeds from the bond will help fund eight projects that will improve transit, education, health care, and employment across the province.

“Effectively combating climate change requires smart investments in environmentally friendly infrastructure projects such as improving energy efficiency and building more public transit,” Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, said in a statement. “Green bonds give all Ontarians the opportunity to invest in climate actions that will protect the environment, strengthen the economy and improve everyday life.”

The funding will go to the following projects:

  1. Eglinton Crosstown LRT: $402 million for things like constructing electric powered transit vehicles that produce near-zero emissions.
  2. York VivaNEXT Bus Rapid Transit Expansion: $100 million to improve access to public transit.
  3. Go Transit Regional Express Rail: $200 million to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using electricity instead of diesel in trains. The funds will also be used for LEED gold-level certification for all Regional Express Rail stations and facilities

Green bonds were pioneered by the World Bank in 2008 as a tool to raise capital for projects with environmental benefits. The government guarantees a return for each investor. The maturity date for paying back the bond is also quite slow — Ontario priced a $750 million bond with a maturity date of January 27, 2023.

This is the second green bond Ontario has issued. The first bond was issued on Oct. 2, 2014 in the amount of $500 million.

Ontario is the first province in Canada to issue green bonds.