I am pleased to share the following message from Heather Marshall of TEA (Toronto Environmental Alliance):
Thank you very much for attending Toronto Environmental Alliance’s Meet & Greet at the New Toronto library last night! It was a packed room full of engaging and concerned local residents. From TEA’s perspective, we couldn’t have asked for a better group of folks to talk about toxic substances in Toronto! You all made TEA feel so welcome in the community.
Please find the PDF version of TEA’s presentation
for your interest.
I also wanted to share some updates based on some questions raised last night [May 22, 2013]:
a) Mysterious black smoke at 242 Birmingham St.
If you recall, there was a photo and discussion about the thick black smoke coming from an industrial chimney on Birmingham St. at last night’s Meet & Greet. The address of the building is 242 Birmingham St., but there are a series of businesses in this building.
Today I called up a local company that has a unit in the same building. The staff person also expressed concern about the smoke and said he’s concerned that they could be burning tires or other waste materials inside. Aside for concern for workers like himself, he was worried about the local residents – some of which live only 500 ft. away.
It seems that the burning only happens in colder weather, which gets to Antonia’s point that it’s likely being used to heat the unit. He has committed to contacting the property owner and will hopefully get back to me soon. I also informed him that he can call the Ministry of Environment’s hotline to report these incidents and they will send someone out to do a site inspection.
Perhaps a Good Neighbour Campaign is needed?
b) Do big companies report to the province?
Larger facilities, such as the Campbell’s Soup factory mentioned last night, have reported to the Federal Government through Environment Canada’s National Pollutant Release Inventory for quite a long time. More recently, some companies are required to report to the province under the new Toxics Reduction Act. What makes the City of Toronto’s Community Right to Know bylaw so unique is that it covers many of the small and medium sized businesses that fall through the cracks of other levels of government! Here are links to all three levels of government that have reporting programs with publicly accessible chemical release information:
- Federal NPRI: http://www.ec.gc.ca/inrp-npri/ [right side panel has a spot to enter your postal code for local results]
- Provincial Toxics Reduction Act: http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/environment/en/mapping/trais/index.htm
- Toronto’s ChemTRAC: http://app.toronto.ca/ctpd/findFacility.html [type in address for local results]
c) What about toxic substances that enter our water system?
Toronto Water issues a report every year to notify the public of any companies that have broken the Sewer By-law, which sets strict standards on the types of chemicals that can enter the wastewater system. This wastewater is then treated by Toronto Water at a wastewater treatment plant. Companies that enter into agreements with the City must pay for this service since it costs a lot of money to filter these toxins out of the water before it can be safely released into Lake Ontario.
The next Sewers Report will be issued at the June 19th Public Works & Infrastructure Committee meeting. TEA will be providing an update on this through our e-newsletter, Council Watch. If you haven’t already subscribed, please do so today! http://torontoenvironment.org/actioncentre/subscribe
d) What’s happening at the Board of Health meeting on June 14?
The June 14th Board of Health meeting will include a release of the ChemTRAC Annual Report. This includes new toxic release data on a range of companies we’ve never had information on before, such as dry cleaners, auto shops, funeral services, laboratories, and much more!
This report will analyze the data in a way that’s easy for the public to understand and Toronto Public Health will pinpoint particular areas and substances of major concern to health. Please consider coming to the meeting – it’s open to the public! TEA will be providing an update on this through our e-newsletter, Council Watch.
e) Why isn’t the City doing a Local Air Quality Study in every neighbourhood?
The short answer is that they are, but this takes time. They started in South Riverdale/Beaches last year and now they’ve moved to your area, South Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Their plan is to do every neighbourhood as quickly as they can, while still taking the time to do the studies accurately.
While they are about 2 weeks behind schedule right now, they still plan to do the Community Meeting to announce the results in June. The date has not yet been set but if you sign up for their updates at firstname.lastname@example.org they will keep you informed of their progress.
TEA will also be keeping an eye on this and attending the meeting! If you are curious about what findings this study can produce, I encourage you to take a look at the South Riverdale/Beaches study results and the Etobicoke plan at this website: http://www.toronto.ca/teo/local-air-quality-studies.htm
f) How can I get my hands on the Toronto Toxic Reduction Tool Kit?
Download a free copy of the tool kit, or view it online, by visiting our website: http://torontoenvironment.org/campaigns/toxics/TTRTK
Thanks again for coming out to the Meet & Greet and sharing your stories, questions, concerns and ideas with one another. Let’s keep the momentum going and continue to address air quality concerns in your neighbourhood this summer!
Please stay in touch with TEA going forward. It would be great to have you all signed up to receive our e-newsletter, Council Watch, which gets sent out twice a month and keeps residents informed! Sign up at http://torontoenvironment.org/actioncentre/subscribe. I have also included my personal contact information below if you wish to email or call me directly.
Lastly, if anyone is willing and able to support TEA, please visit our donation page at http://torontoenvironment.org/actioncentre/donate. Even a small donation can go a long way!
Until next time,
DeTOx Toronto Campaigner
Toronto Environmental Alliance
30 Duncan St., Suite 201
Toronto, ON M5V 2C3
Tel. 416 596-0660
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The event was entitled: South Etobicoke Meet & Greet – Learn about Toxics in Toronto.
The links referred to in the photo (above) from the PowerPoint presentation can be accessed below. In each case, you can use the ‘Back’ button on your browser to return to the page you are now reading.
A May 31, 2013 Toronto Star article – “How a morning stroll led to a pesticide ban: The Toronto Environmental Alliance celebrates an anniversary and a great victory” – shares a back story about the Toronto Environmental Alliance.