Environmental advocates welcomed the election of Toronto's new mayor Tuesday, saying they will work hard to ensure Olivia Chow and city council follow through on their commitments.

Chow has pledged to take action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting green spaces and improving access to clean energy. During her campaign, she vowed to transform Toronto into a sustainable city through a range of measures, including expanding bike lanes, investing in public transportation and promoting the use of renewable energy.

The newly elected mayor is a longtime advocate for environmental protection. A video posted online shows that in 2006, Chow and her late husband, former federal NDP leader Jack Layton, retrofitted their home by installing solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling.

"We need our new mayor to take bold steps to cut carbon emissions, get Toronto’s climate and environmental plans on track, and protect us during storms, floods and heat waves,” says Sarah Buchanan, campaigns director at Toronto Environmental Alliance.

“Olivia Chow has promised to reverse TTC service cuts, invest in programs to make housing more affordable, climate-friendly and safe, and bring in new funding tools like a levy for commercial parking lot owners. These commitments could transform Toronto, and we'll be pushing action every step of the way.”

Buchanan said they are excited to continue working to build a greener, more equitable city with new leadership at city hall.

To fight climate change, Chow also promised to prioritize older multi-unit buildings, especially those housing vulnerable populations, for energy audits and retrofit financing for combined heating and cooling systems like electric heat pumps.

“As our biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, our city’s buildings are critical to climate action but a huge vulnerability if we don’t act fast," reads a statement on Chow’s website. “Many of our homes, businesses and community spaces still rely on fossil fuels and they aren’t keeping us safe during extreme weather. Toronto already has over 120 premature deaths per year due to extreme heat, and in the next 25 years, we’ll have 60 days that are over 30 C each year,” the statement reads. “Most older apartments without air conditioning don’t even provide an on-site cooling space for tenants and many are overdue to replace vital service systems.”

Phil Pothen, Ontario environment program manager at Environmental Defence, says mayor-elect Chow's commitment to promote climate-friendly buildings will be an important step forward, but it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the climate benefits he hopes will be on her agenda.

The newly elected mayor is a longtime advocate for environmental protection. A video posted online shows that in 2006, Chow and her late husband Jack Layton retrofitted their home by installing solar panels and geothermal heating and cooling.

“For the past 13 years, climate action in Toronto has been obstructed by low-tax austerity budgets,” said Pothen. “Underfunding of transportation has delayed the implementation of protected cycle tracks and RapidTO transit priority lanes on major streets and has led to service cuts for the TTC at a time when we need to be growing transit ridership.”

Additionally, underfunding and understaffing of land-use planning have delayed the proactive rezoning of Toronto's low-density neigbourhoods to bring them up to sustainable densities, said Pothen. “We hope that mayor-elect Chow's commitment to allocate the necessary funds to climate action will finally break these logjams and deliver a net-zero Toronto before it is too late."

The first person of colour elected as mayor of Canada's most populous city, 66-year-old Chow attended meetings at city hall Tuesday.

She won the mayoral byelection against 101 other candidates. Her swearing-in date is yet to be announced, and the results of the election, which took place Monday, are expected to be certified by the city clerk today.

Chow is a veteran progressive politician who previously served as a member of Parliament and a city councillor. She has promised to bring change to Toronto and make it more caring, affordable and safer for everyone.

This story was produced in partnership with Journalists for Human Rights for the Afghan Journalists-in-Residence program funded by the Meta Journalism Project.

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im almost afraid to hope that she will be able to do even some of what we know we MUST do without massive obstruction from self interested status quo forces.
We will be cheering on her informed and sane and community building for sure!
Toronto is an embarrassment compared to Montreal and Halifax in it’s failure to get real about anything needed to create a livable city, even for the rich. not keeping up with the truly great world cities like Paris, Barcelona, Milan, ….God, even Boris Johnson made. congestion tax for London 25 years ago!!
I find the sudden use of the word “ austerity” budgets describing the last 12 years fascinating. why wasnt this analysis promoted last year?

I see our failing premier Doug Ford and other conservatives are bent out of shape over Olivia Chow's win. Toronto is ready for change and the other candidates spent more time bashing Chow than with promoting their platforms. However, some of the candidates were truly delusional about what they promised the city dwellers, some clearly unrealistic.

I also think given Olivia Chow's win and the recent by-election results, are a wakeup call for the conservatives, that without a clear climate change policy and direction, that spreading propaganda on social media isn't going to work, except with their diehard base they already have. It did not take our failing premier Doug Ford very long to question being able to work with OLiva Chow. The west is also going off the rails on Oliva's win, no surprise there.

Time will tell how this will all work out for Olivia and the city of Toronto. I suspect the propaganda trolls will be out in full force spreading disinformation.

Um, excuse me. The "West" is not some homogenous, single issue voter and cultural block, much as rural Alberta is deluded to believe it is the centre of that universe. The West consists of four individual provinces, Yukon and the NWT. Of course, half of that is considered the North. Just as the "East" isn't a single unit (tell that to Quebeckers), there is a melange of views beyond the talking point characterization about Laurentian Elites.

Now if you described the urban - rural divide, there might be some validity for generalizations that may ring true.

For what it's worth, I live in a semi, with a very small yard and responsibility for maintaining corner frontage.
Other cities seem to include garbage, sewer, water in their tax bills. East York used to, but Toronto doesn't. The very first tax bill under Toronto was considerably higher than any from East York, which had garbage and recycling picked up twice a week. Toronto picks up garbage every 2 weeks, and recycling every 2 weeks. I put out a small bin of garbage about 6 times a year, and recycling about 8 times a year. But I have to pay as though it were 26 times a year for each.
Downtown streets were washed every single night. Residential streets were swept regularly, and washed weekly. We didn't breathe dust inside our homes: we could leave windows open for fresh air.
We had a community centre with free family swim hours, and a small but full-service library branch in the building. And snow plowing when it was needed. As opposed to now.
Under East York, there were many programs for children, that were subsidized for those who couldn't afford. Corners of schoolyards were flooded in winter, so no one had to walk miles and miles to get to a rink ... and then pay to skate.
And when you needed police, they showed up in 10 minutes.
Now, if you wake up with a prowler/thief in your bedroom ... if you manage to get him out of the house, but then realize you didn't see him actually leave and he might be in the basement, or hiding in the yard, and call police, they'll get there in half an hour, while the emergency call line is held up, because they want you on the line till the officers get there.
There are more police per capita, but stations have been closed or moved, so there's a long drive to get to where officers are needed.
The municipal representation I have has been reduced by what, I calculated it once in terms of representation per capita: it was either 1/16 or 1/32 of what it used to be. Now, I don't even have a councillor with an office in the "ward" i.e., federal/provincial riding, and if I want to see her, I'd better make it to one of her "community" appearance photo ops.

Those 45-60 story towers Dougie's mandating all around? Did we learn nothing from Covid? And have we not educated ourselves about the environmental load those things represent? I can count over 20 towers, minimum 20 stories, some considerably higher, from my bedroom window. On one side of my building. Every single one of them spews out massive amounts of toxic laundry exhaust fumes at street level.

And btw, I'll bet Phil Pothen has done very little research on city densities. Downtown Toronto is already more population dense than Beijing or Tokyo.

In Spanish cities, they're kicking tourists out of Air BnB's, and restricting rental to foreigners. While we let them buy up floors of buildings, as investments. The cost of purchasing a home has skyrocketed over the past couple of decades because they're not being bought by residential owners, but by investor owners, who demand rents sufficient to cover all their acquisition and financing costs, and turn them a nice profit besides. For years, most of Toronto's real estate purchases have been by investors. City hall won't change that, because a whole lot of councillors are, themselves, landlords of single-family dwellings. The city pays those guys a grant of $30K when they buy. Go figure why: I cannot.
Our snowplowing is a gong show, with several kinds of equipment following behind one another in apparently random order, each undoing the work the other did, making sidewalks and intersections utterly impassable.
Don't forget, also, that Torontonians pay double land transfer tax, one to the Province, and one to the City.
By the time all's said and done, for what Ottawans (apparently a "high property tax" jurisdiction) get for their overall payments to City Hall, the total payments aren't that much different.
But we pay much higher rents and last time I looked, also more for transit, as well as for trades.

We shouldn't expect too much. She could be Wonder Woman and she'd still be facing a city council that's not on her side. There's not much a mayor can do if council won't vote for any of the stuff they want.

Such is the conundrum presented by amalgamation.