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Clearing the air on clean air

How will our communities look with reduced greenhouse emissions?

This is what the Clean Air Council asked Durham Region representatives this morning at their meeting hosted by the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. Those in attendance included municipal leaders from across GTA and Hamilton Area, including Mayor John Henry and Councillor Nancy Diamond.

The Clean Air Council, made up of 24 local and regional governments in the GTA, promotes reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and boosting awareness of regional air quality and climate change issues.

There was no question as to the need for energy conservation, only in the matter of how idealistic action plans can evolve into realities. A big question was how the region could gain success both economically and environmentally.

John Tory thinks the answer is government, activists and businesses creating a greener community collectively. “We need to bring all the right players together,” says the civic action chair.

Executive director of the Clean Air Partnership, Eva Ligeti, guided participants through the council’s greener thoughts, plans and ideals and checked in with Durham Region’s successes in the last while.

Executive Director of the Clean Air Partnership, Eva Ligeti presents at the RMG.

Action plans that were mentioned for the future included tighter regulations over disposable water bottles and making complete roads. These ‘complete roads’ mean total availability for pedestrians and cyclists in addition to cars and are brightened by energy-efficient streetlights.

The Living City Scorecard is a report card to see where the Region is in energy sustainability. Progress has been made, pesticide regulation bylaws and smog alerts for instance and these report cards will ensure progress is being made for the Clean Air Council. These will be issued every five years, however both Tory and Ligeti urged this to change to every three years for even greater accountability.

Finally, Ligeti encouraged Durham Region to, “blow our own horn,” in regards to our success. She says this will let other regions know that energy sustainability is achievable and in turn, they too will strive for such continued success.

Feedback from the May 27 meeting will be used in the development of the 2012 Clean Air Council Inter-Governmental Declaration on Clean Air and Climate Change.

Story and image by Hillary DiMenna

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