June 21, 2002

Municipal actions to improve air quality in York Region

The following are measures by The Regional Municipality of York and the Towns of Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Whitchurch-Stouffville as submitted to the GTA Clean Air Council.

The Regional Municipality of York

1. York Rapid Transit Plan (YRTP)

The York Rapid Transit Plan is the heart of York Region's Transportation Management Plan, a 30-year initiative to manage transportation growth in the region. YRTP is the most ambitious inter-regional transit plan in the GTA currently and is a collaborative effort with Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. The YRTP provides for links to Peel, Durham and Toronto and could eliminate hundreds of thousands of car trips in the GTA over the first two years of implementation. A discount on the purchase of York Region Transit tickets for York Region employees has and will continue to increase the use of public transit.

2. Transportation Management Associations (TMAs)

York and its neighbour municipalities are investigating a series of TMAs across the GTA. These are non-profit associations of employers who can co-ordinate transit sales for staff, lobby for reduced fares and generally promote reduced car and increased transit use.

3. Local Action Plan for Green House Gas (GHG) Reduction

In 2002, as part of the Partners for Climate Protection Program, York Region will develop a Local Action Plan for GHG Reduction, with the assistance of ICLEI Energy Services – a service of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. This plan will measure GHG emissions from the corporate sector, set targets for emission reductions and identify actions to meet the targets. These actions will have the co-benefit of reducing emissions that contribute to the formation of smog and other air pollutants.

4. Smog Alert Response

York Region will work towards a consistent planned response to smog alerts across the Region to reduce the region-wide contribution to poor air quality events and protect the community from the adverse health impacts of smog. Communications, public education and practical anti-smog actions for smog alert days are key to an effective and coordinated response to smog alerts. These strategies will be incorporated into York Region's smog alert response.

5. Pesticide Reduction Guidelines

Regional Council adopted the Pesticide Reduction Guidelines for Lands Owned by the Regional Municipality of York on May 16, 2002. An interdepartmental committee will develop an implementation plan for these Guidelines for the 2003 season. Improved air quality and the reduction of substances that contribute to poor air quality and smog will be a benefit of this initiative.

6. Forest Awareness and Education Campaign

Initiatives of the Forest Awareness and Education Campaign, as part of the Greening Strategy, will contribute to the understanding of the link between our forests and improved air quality. Initiatives for 2002 include:

7. Growth Management and Community Building Initiatives

York Region is undertaking several initiatives that will help achieve a more compact form of the planned urban structure of the Region. A more compact urban form will reduce the number and length of future automobile trips, improve the efficiency of public transit and improve overall air quality. Such initiatives include:

8. Anti-Idling Awareness Campaign

An Anti-Idling Awareness Campaign will inform regional employees, residents and commuters about the contribution of idling to poor air quality and smog, and the potential positive environmental impact from reduced idling. Corporate fleets, businesses, commuters and school boards will be targeted in this campaign.

9. Smog Alert Resource Kit

A Smog Alert Resource Kit will be developed and forwarded to community contacts (e.g. hospitals, long-term care facilities, school boards, area municipalities, businesses and community organizations). This Kit will educate our residents and our community about the link between air quality and human health, provide information on precautions to protect their health, and recommend practical actions to reduce or eliminate their contribution to smog producing emissions.


1. Green Fleet Pilot Project

Town of Markham Council has approved $100,000 in support of initiating a green fleet pilot project. The primary objective is to realize environmental benefits through the acquisition and operation of hybrid vehicles, in the Town's fleet and to investigate the applicability of other alternate fuels. A program is currently under development that will include the following:

Environmental Benefits: A determination of the environmental benefits realized as hybrid vehicles offer emission reduction benefits. This will contribute to the Town's overall goal of contributing to improved air quality in the GTA.

Life Cycle Costing: Return on investment analysis taking into consideration initial capital cost, total fixed and operating costs, and the cost of ownership on a per kilometre basis. A comparison will be made to similar conventional gasoline powered automobiles.

End-User Acceptance: End-user acceptance will be determined through the completion of fleet user satisfaction surveys. Operating departments and individual operators will be asked to comment on vehicle performance, functionality, and durability.

Communication Strategy: The Green Fleet Pilot Project will be promoted in part through the application of a prominent graphics package applied to the exterior of the vehicles. The units will be deployed in high-use applications and appear at public events throughout the Town (environmental events, village festivals, and youth week). The project will be further promoted though other internal and external media.

2. Employee Trip Reduction Program

The Town has begun research on reducing employee trips. The GIS and Payroll Departments have taken employee home addresses and plotted them onto a map. All employees including full time, part-time, contract and Markham Public Library were included.

Next steps will be to validate the data and identify clusters for potential opportunities such as car-pooling.

The program will require a strong communications initiative with staff and potential incentives to have employees move to alternative travel arrangements. Timeframe is 14 to 18 months.

3. Green Roof Pilot Project

Town of Markham staff are currently reviewing options with respect to green roof systems. The objective is implement a significant pilot project on the roof deck of an existing facility utilizing a portion of the funding available through the annual roof replacement program. Upon completion, the project will serve to further promote green roofing systems in the GTA, and will be included in the Town's environmental outreach and education programs. The Civic Centre (at Warden Ave. and Hwy #7) has been identified as a potential location for the project.

Conventional roofing methods can be a major contributor to the heat–island effect and add to urban warming. Green roofing can lessen smog through reducing the need to generate power for air conditioning and add significant insulation to roof systems. An added benefit is that green roof systems can reduce storm water flowing directly into sewer systems, which raises the risk of pollution. Effectively designed green roof systems can absorb rainwater and release it over time. Green roof systems are typically comprised of a waterproof membrane topped by a layer of porous material for drainage (sand, stone, and organic material). Either lightweight, low-cost plantings can be grown, or more substantial plantings can be established depending on site-specific structural conditions.

4. Green Procurement Policy

Markham will review its Purchasing Bylaw, RFP, Tender and Quote processes to ensure, wherever possible, procurement policies and specifications are in place that increase the purchase of environmentally preferable products, increase recycling efforts and reduce waste.

It is anticipated Council will approve the new procurement policies and specifications by December 31, 2002.

5. Smog Alert Response Plan

As a participant in the GTA-CAC, Markham is committed to developing a Smog Alert Response Plan for implementation on a Town-wide basis during smog alert days. The policy and procedures associated with the plan will include the following:

Reduced/Suspended Activities:

Rescheduled Activities:

Energy Conservation:

6. Initiate Rouge Park Official Plan Process

In 1995, the Province of Ontario released the Rouge Park Management Plan (RPMP) and created the largest park in an urban setting in North America. The Rouge Park south of Steeles Avenue, contains over 5,800 acres of forest habitat, lakeshore marsh, the biggest nature reserve in southern Ontario and the southern portion of a natural corridor intended to link Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine. The long-term intent for the Rouge Park is to secure over 11,000 acres of land in the Rouge watershed from the Oak Ridges Moraine to Lake Ontario. Following the release of the RPMP, the Province created a partnership based management structure to provide a coordinated effort to secure the long-term management of the newly created park and to prepare a Management Plan to extend the park north of Steeles Avenue along the tributaries of the Rouge River to the Oak Ridges Moraine.

The Rouge North Management Plan (RNMP) is a strategy developed by the Rouge Park Alliance (RPA) and its north partners (Markham, Richmond Hill, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the Region of York) to guide the establishment of the Rouge Park along the tributaries of the Rouge River watershed through Markham, Richmond Hill and Whitchurch-Stouffville to the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Rouge North Management Plan process was initiated in 1996, lead by the Rouge North Management Plan Committee and coordinated by the Town of Markham.

The RNMP was approved by the RPA in 2001 as a guideline document that outlines the mechanisms for the Rouge Park partners to implement the RNMP for a common vision of a linear natural park system through Whitchurch-Stouffville, Richmond Hill and Markham connecting to the existing Rouge Park at Steeles Avenue. The main component of the RNMP is the introduction of boundary delineation criteria, based on a sustainable science-based approach to environmental protection and enhancement, used to delineate the Rouge North lands through the development approvals process as lands become urbanized over time. Boundary delineation criteria have been developed for the "Middle Reaches" area (protect and enhance aquatic habitat resources). There are criteria for the "Little Rouge Creek" (establish a terrestrial corridor with interior forest conditions of approximately 600 m in width). And, criteria were developed for the "Oak Ridges Moraine" (maintain the quality and quantity of infiltrating water, underlying aquifers and aquatic terrestrial habitat) in the Town's non-urban area.

On May 21, 2002, Development Services Committee endorsed the Official Plan Amendment framework for the Rouge North policies. Now, staff will move forward with the preparation of the formal amendment documents and a public consultation program. The Rouge North Official Plan policies will introduce a higher level of environmental protection along valley and stream corridors in the Rouge Watershed. It will provide opportunities for urban reforestation and significant vegetation enhancements, which contribute to the Town's overall objective for smog reduction.


7. Maintain and Enhance Tree Planting Program

Tree planting in the Town of Markham is important to improve air quality, reduce erosion, beautify the community as well as increase wildlife habitats. It is also follows the Natural Features Study and the York Region Green Strategy's goals for increased tree cover.

The Town is also looking at a public awareness program for businesses and homeowners. Proposals call for the planting of trees, in conjunction with Economic Development and current stewardship initiatives with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

A joint public-private partnership is proposed between the Town and the Markham Board of Trade. A brochure for new and current businesses could be developed to inform new businesses of Markham's greenspaces and promote the planting of trees on their properties.

8. Public Awareness Campaign

Council established the Town of Markham Clean Air Working Group in October 2001 to recommend policy, confirm short and long-term objectives and to promote Markham's commitment to clean air. As part of the education and awareness program, the Clean Air Working Group created a spring and summer "Clean Air" series of newspaper articles aimed at promoting awareness of clean air issues.

The first of the series highlighted Canada's Clean Air Day on June 5, 2002 and provided information on how to make "clean air" choices. The second article promoted the Town's participation at the Smog Summit III, identify the commitments made by the Town of Markham and promoted citizen participation of public events surrounding the Smog Summit. The third of the series outlined the Town's commitment to the preparation of a Corporate Smog Reduction Plan. The final article will identified the link between clean air and health and promote activities that provide for a healthy lifestyle while contributing to pollution reduction.



1. Anti-Idling Bylaw

It is well known that the burning of fossil fuels in internal combustion engines is one of the major contributors to the formation of greenhouse gases and smog. Research literature shows that a significant reduction in greenhouse gas generation and smog can be achieved by merely exercising due care and judgement when permitting vehicles to idle. The Town of Newmarket intends to pursue this relatively straightforward means of reducing air pollution through a combined public education and by-law enforcement program. The thrust of the by-law will be to limit idling of vehicles and will be modelled after successful by-laws that have been implemented by other jurisdictions.

2. Corporate Smog Alert Response Plan

Although Newmarket Council has adopted, in principle, the recommendations and guidelines set out in the May 1999 Ontario Ministry of the Environment document entitled, "Smog Alert: A Municipal Response Guide," the Town intends to complete a "Made in Newmarket" working set of procedures (the "Plan") to be implemented immediately upon declaration of a Smog Alert by the Province. The Town endorses the Smog Alert initiatives contained within the 2002 Joint Declaration, but expects that there will be considerably more scope and detail in the Town's Plan.

3. Town-wide Natural Heritage Study

Although the Town has been conducting limited natural heritage studies in its developing northwest and southwest quadrants over the past two years, Council intends, in 2002, to undertake a comprehensive Town-wide Natural Heritage Study in partnership with the Regional Municipality of York, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Typically, the study will inventory and rank all existing terrestrial natural heritage assets (woodlots, valleylands, other land forms, etc.) for the purpose of ensuring that sufficient policy is in place to adequate protect the terrestrial environment. Because Newmarket is an urban community and approximately 80 per cent developed, an equally important element of the study will be to identify opportunities for restoration and/or enhancement of all open space within the town (floodplains, stormwater management blocks, parks). It is fully expected that a major component of said restoration and enhancement will be tree-planting.


1. Travel Demand Management (TDM) program and Transportation Management Association (TMA)

The Town of Richmond Hill, Town of Markham and the Region of York have had preliminary discussions regarding the feasibility of implementing TDM and TMA programs for the Highway 404 and Highway 7 Business Park Area. The Town of Richmond Hill will work with the Town of Markham and the Region of York on the feasibility of implementing a Travel Deman Management (TDM) program and Transportation Management Association (TMA) for the Highway 404 and Highway 7 Business Park Area.

2. Improve Traffic & Pedestrian Mobility in Central Business District

The Town of Richmond Hill Central Business District is located along the Yonge Street Corridor between Major Mackenzie Drive and Elgin Mills Road. Congestion along Yonge Street, limited access to rear lot parking areas and limited connection between the various properties creates poor traffic and pedestrian circulation in the Central Business District. The Town will develop a Master Plan for the Town's Central Business District (CBD) for implementation of Rear Lanes, Rear Lane Parking and Pedestrian Links to reduce congestion and promote pedestrian movement.

3. Participate in the Region of York Rapid Transit Plan

The York Rapid Transit Plan (TRTP) is a multi-faceted project initiated by the Regional Municipality of York to facilitate the process of implementing a rapid transit network in York Region. This inter-regional rapid transit plan is a collaborative effort between the Region and the municipalities of Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan, focusing on links with transit systems in the City of Toronto and the Regions of Peel and Durham. The YRTP could eliminate up to 1 million car trips in only two years, which will further help to reduce smog.

4. Bicycle and Pedestrian Corridors Master Plan and Network

Subject to a pending grant application under the federal Urban Transportation Showcase

Program, the Town will undertake, complete and implement a Bicycle and Pedestrian Corridor

Master Plan and Network. The Master Plan and Network is a key initiative to help reduce our

community wide transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed Master Plan and

ultimate network will focus on the major transportation corridors, primarily Yonge Street and

other significant feeder corridors which have key destination points, such as regional transit

terminals (Yonge and Bernard), GO Rail stations (Newkirk and Langstaff) and other high

volume destination nodes. Critical links between residential and employment areas will also be

identified and incorporated in the network.

5. Local Action Plan

The Town of Richmond Hill in September of 2000 joined the (FCM) "Partners for Climate Protection Programs" with the intent to reduce the Town'soverall greenhouse gas emission for the corporation and the community by 2010. The Town was recently recognized by FCM as one of only 25 other communities across Canada for completing the Greenhouse Gas Inventory for both municipal and community operations. The Town has applied for funding from Federation of Municipalities (FCM) Green Enabling Fund to proceed to develop a Local Action Plan to reduce both corporate and community emissions. A strategy to reduce GHG emissions will be created through the Local Action Plan, providing an analysis of the options to achieve the targets and timetable, policies and measures to achieve reductions enter summary of initiative.

6. Clean Air Program

The Town will be expanding the Clean Air Program to encourage more participation from the community (i.e schools with walk to school days) and to also undertake various initiatives to help reduce emissions.


  1. Alternate Modes of Transportation
Promotion of walking and cycling as healthy and environmentally sustainable modes of transportation. Creating a bike, walk or car pool to work day or week for town employees and eventually town wide.
2.      Reduction of Idling of Town Vehicles


3.       Alternate Fuel Sources
Investigate use of Bio-diesel fuels for town work vehicles along with use of low sulphur fuels and synthetic oils and fuel additives.
4.      Energy Efficiency
Reducing energy use in all town facilities and set-up program to have all municipal facilities more energy efficient in 5 years.
5.      Kyoto Protocol
The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville supports and  endorses the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by  the Canadian Government.

6.     Urban Form

Greenland study has identified that all natural features within town boundaries and official plans have planning for compact urban designs, pedestrian friendly streets and trails strategy for easy access for residents.

7.    No Pesticide Use on Town Propert

In 2001, a "no pesticide" policy was developed for all Town properties.

8.    Greening Initiatives

The Town supports various greening initiatives through tree plantings and protection and preservation of natural and built heritage.

9.   Environmental Committees

Whitchurch-Stouffville Environmental Advisory Committee promotes the Mayor's Earth Day and other environmental education throughout the year.

10. Smog Alert Response

Smog Response Plan initiated in 2002 for town facilities and employees. Reduce unnecessary use of all engines for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions on high pollution days.

The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities.  York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities:  Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:  www.region.york.on.ca

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

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