June 7, 2007
Media Release

The Regional Municipality of York commits to taking action on clean air and climate change at the 2007 Smog Summit


Region explores alternative fuels, wind power and continues afforestation, building energy efficiency

NEWMARKET The Regional Municipality of York joined the federal and provincial governments and GTA municipalities today at the 2007 Smog Summit in Toronto to affirm a common commitment to clean air initiatives that will reduce smog, air pollution and greenhouse gases as outlined in the Toronto and Region 2007 Inter-governmental Declaration on Clean Air.
 
"York Region is working on an Air Quality Strategy and several other initiatives that will improve air quality and reduce green house gas emissions," said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  "We have an opportunity to make a positive impact that will enrich the quality of life for regional communities for years to come."
 
During the Clean Air and Climate Change Planning panel, City of Vaughan Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio, Chair of the York Region Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee, explained that York Region has developed a preliminary draft Sustainability Strategy, which outlines a new approach to decision-making about growth management and municipal responsibilities that better integrate the economy, environment and community. 
 
By 2031, York Region will add 600,000 people and 340,000 jobs, bringing the population to 1.5 million and employment to 800,000.
 
"This ongoing, rapid growth requires York Region to take an active role in protecting and enhancing our environment, particularly the air we breathe," said Councillor Frustaglio, who signed the Declaration on behalf of York Regional Council.  "Growth must be managed well if we are to sustain economic vitality and healthy communities."
 
York Region's draft Sustainability Strategy will assist the Region in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and improve air quality.  It contains eight guiding principles and over 80 actions including: reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, smog precursors and other harmful pollutants that impact human health.
 
In addition, Councillor Frustaglio identified initiatives that are planned or already under development to reduce energy consumption across Regional operations and lower greenhouse gas emissions.  These initiatives include:
 Working on adopting and implementing a Regional Air Quality Strategy
 Assessing the viability of a wind power project
 Constructing new Regional facilities to meet the energy efficiency standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification as a minimum
 Exploring opportunities for alternative fuels, such as biodiesel and diesel-electric, for York Region Transit/Viva buses
 Increasing forest cover available for carbon sequestration through the Greening Strategy's afforestation initiatives
 

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As a signatory to the 2007 Intergovernmental Declaration on Clean Air, York Region committed to working collaboratively with the other members of the GTA Clean Air Council to develop healthy and sustainable communities, through the following activities:
 Developing energy conservation plans for government buildings and operations
 Developing energy efficiency criteria for purchasing, lease and contract decisions
 Identifying opportunities to purchase green power
 Developing model corporate and community green building policies
 Encouraging installation of technologies that generate renewable energy and/or reduce use of conventional fossil fuels
 Developing and/or participating in transportation demand management initiatives, Smart Commute programs and/or Green fleet plans to reduce emissions associated with government operations
 Monitoring and evaluating local and international progress in creating healthy and sustainable communities through clean air practices such as green development policies, sustainable and active transportation and urban and rural green spaces
 Identifying financial mechanisms that further enable corporate energy-use reductions
 
York Region has a strong foundation for sustainability in the Regional Official Plan and Vision 2026, the Region's long-term strategic plan.  The Region has already implemented a range of forward-looking initiatives, including York Region Transit and Viva Rapid Transit, the Water for Tomorrow conservation program, the Greening Strategy and the Centres and Corridors initiative.
 
York Region has been a member of the GTA Clean Air Council since 2001.  Other members include five of York Region's local municipalities: the Township of King, the Towns of Markham, Newmarket and Richmond Hill and the City of Vaughan.  For more information about the Council and the 2007 Smog Summit, please visit www.smogsummit.org
 
For information on the preliminary draft Sustainability Strategy, please visit the Region's website and click on the "Planning for Tomorrow" icon.
 
For further information on air quality issues, or to obtain a copy of the Smog Alerts booklet or 20/20 The Way to Clean Air Planner Guide, please contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at
1-800-361-5653.
 
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Attachment: Copy of the Toronto and Region 2007 Inter-governmental Declaration on Clean Air.
 
Media Contact: Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications, York Region
 Phone: 905 830-4444 ext. 1238, 416 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
 Cell Phone: 905 251-6413 Email: tim.paleczny@york.ca

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