June 21, 2002

York Region joins area municipalities to sign Declaration on Clean Air

Newmarket The Regional Municipality of York and the Towns of Newmarket, Markham, Richmond Hill and Whitchurch-Stouffville today publicly signed the Toronto 2002 Inter-governmental Declaration on Clean Air at the third annual Toronto Smog Summit. They were joined by other municipalities in the GTA and representatives from the federal and provincial government.

The purpose of the Toronto Smog Summit is to announce and promote strong action by citizens, business and government to clean the air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Government representatives reported on progress made since last year's Summit, and announced new initiatives for government action to reduce smog.

"York Region continues to make great strides in enhancing the Region's natural features and in creating awareness of environmental issues," said Vaughan Regional Councillor and Chair of the Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee Joyce Frustaglio. "Initiatives such as our pesticide reduction guidelines, the York Rapid Transit Plan and Smog Alert Response, all depend on our combined effort to make them succeed."

York Region announced plans for the 2003 season, incorporating the Pesticide Reduction Guidelines for lands owned by The Regional Municipality of York. The Region is also addressing transportation issues with the York Rapid Transit Plan, an innovative Public-Private Partnership to develop a rapid transit system throughout York Region. This initiative could eliminate millions of vehicle-kilometres of car travel in the GTA and reduce poor air quality and smog.

The Town of Richmond Hill spoke about clean air initiatives, including an annual Clean Air Commute to Work Week and Tele-working Program.

"Richmond Hill has made protecting the environment a priority," said Deputy Mayor and Regional Councillor Brenda Hogg. "For the past five years we have been implementing programs and educating the public about cleaner modes of transportation in an effort to reduce smog in our community."

"Through the creation of the Markham environmental land trust and securement fund, we have an ongoing commitment to add to our open space. Community groups have planted trees and Council has approved a pesticide reduction pilot project for six of our parks," said Markham Councillor Erin Shapero. "We are working on several 'green' initiatives, including a green fleet pilot project and a smog alert response plan for the Town. With our partners, Markham is working to continue to improve air quality for the betterment of all our citizens."

The Town of Markham introduced its Tree Planting Program, which calls for planting trees in conjunction with Economic Development and current stewardship initiatives with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. The Town has also begun research on reducing employee trips and identifying potential opportunities for car-pooling.

"The greatest legacy that we can leave our citizens is clean air," said Newmarket Councillor Dave Kerwin. He addressed the Town's completion of a Natural Heritage Study, its design and implementation of a detailed Smog Alert Response Plan and the design of an anti-idling bylaw.

This was Whitchurch-Stouffville's first year as participants in the 2002 Smog Summit. Councillor Mark Carroll discussed the Town's actions to improve air quality. "We want to start doing our part for the health of our residents through better air quality," said Councillor Carroll. "The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville will be looking to the leadership of the other municipalities as first steps to the cleaning of our air. We have just started on this initiative and we are aware we need to do more."

Smog is that brownish haze that we sometimes see hanging over our community on warm, sunny days. It is a combination of airborne pollutants that affect our health and our natural environment.

For more information about smog and air quality visit www.airqualityontario.com or for more information about the Toronto Smog Summit, please visit www.city.toronto.on.ca/taf/smog_summit.htm


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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