June 20, 2003

York Region joins area municipalities to sign Declaration on Clean Air

NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York, together with King Township and the Towns of Markham, Newmarket and Richmond Hill today publicly signed the Toronto 2003 Inter-governmental Declaration on Clean Air at the fourth 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 announced new initiatives for government action to reduce smog.

"Promoting clean air policies and initiatives is identified as one way to support the goals of Vision 2026, the Region’s 25-year strategic plan," said Vaughan Regional Councillor and Chair of the Region’s Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee Joyce Frustaglio, who represented York Region at the Summit.

During the GTA municipal roundtable discussion, representatives presented on a topic category to highlight the strongest aspect of their actions to improve air quality. York Region presented under the Transportation category with the announcement of phase one of the York Rapid Transit Plan, a 30-year initiative to implement a rapid transit system in York Region with connections to our neighbours in the City of Toronto and the Regions of Durham and Peel. Quick Start will provide an extensive network of bus operations on major routes that provide high- quality, frequent, user-friendly service.

"By 2006 Quick Start is expected to shift 7,000 commuter trips per day from the private automobile to public transit," said Councillor Frustaglio. "It is estimated that carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 120,000 tonnes per year by 2012. Shifting to public transit will also reduce airborne emissions of hydrocarbons, particulate matter, nitrous oxides and other harmful pollutants that lead to poor air quality."

King Township Mayor Margaret Black spoke under the category of Education and Outreach and highlighted the efforts of the King Environmental Advisory Committee’s public awareness campaign, particularly its "pesticide-free lawn" signs.

"King Township has historically supported clean air initiatives and continues today by exploring alternative energy production, reviewing and regulating open-air burning, formalizing a protocol for prohibiting non-essential application of pesticides and restricting or cancelling machinery operations on poor air quality days," said Mayor Black.

The Towns of Markham, Newmarket and Richmond Hill spoke under the category of Energy.

"Markham continues to promote innovative ways to reduce smog at the individual, community and government level," said Markham Councillor Erin Shapero. "In 2003, the Town will undertake a number of new clean air programmes, including establishing an anti-idling by-law to encourage Markham residents and businesses to take leadership on cleaner air. Establishing an anti-idling by-law highlights important clean air initiatives that we all can undertake to reduce smog in our community."

Newmarket Mayor Tom Taylor spoke about the possible creation of an energy services affiliate to Newmarket Hydro whose objective would include the design and delivery of all Town clean air initiatives including strategies and technologies related to air quality improvement. A study and business plan will be prepared this year. The Town of Newmarket also received two Repair Our Air Fleet Challenge 2003 awards for Best Results in the Municipal Category and Best Going Forward report at the Smog Summit.

"By winning the 2003 Repair Our Air Fleet Challenge, Newmarket has demonstrated its commitment to reaching its objective of meeting or exceeding provincial and federal air quality standards. We are absolutely delighted by our results," said Newmarket Mayor Tom Taylor and GTA Clean Air Council representative.

This year the Town of Richmond Hill will undertake a Local Action Plan Feasibility Study to determine the source and level of greenhouse gas emissions across its corporate operations, which includes buildings, water and sewage operations, vehicle fleet and waste. The study will also address reducing community-wide emissions in residential, commercial, industrial, transportation and waste sectors.

"Energy efficiency is important to the Town of Richmond Hill," said Deputy Mayor and Regional Councillor Brenda Hogg. "It saves tax dollars and protects our environment by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere."

Although a representative from the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville could not attend today’s summit, GTA Clean Air Council member, Whitchurch-Stouffville Councillor Mark Carroll, will sign the Declaration on behalf of the Town at a later date. This morning he was launching the Town’s Anti-Idling Campaign.

"Our council will be considering an anti-idling by-law this month that would declare all schools and Town-owned facilities idle-free zones," said Councillor Carroll.

For more information about Toronto Smog Summit, please visit www.city.toronto.on.ca/taf/smog_summit.htm For more information on the actions to improve air quality, The Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at: www.region.york.on.ca


Contact: Kim Clark, York Region Health Services, York Region

- (905) 830-4444 or 1-877-464-9675, ext. 4101

- kim.clark@region.york.on.ca

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