The Toronto Star has three articles that are inter-related. The first one is about Baby Boomers and how they will bear the brunt of smog-related illnesses over the next quarter century. I was struck by one of the stats provided: by 2026, up to 4,000 deaths each year in Toronto will be premature due our poor air quality. This made me wonder — if our drinking water was helping contribute to 4,000 premature death each year wouldn’t everyone would in this city be in a panic? But since the air is unseen, maybe we refuse to believe breathing in smoggy air is bad for us. We can avoid drinking water, but we can’t stop breathing….
The second article is an opinion piece by Matti Siemiatycki (a recent urban planning PhD grad from UBC) on traffic congestion and how to cut commuting times. He suggests congestion charges, carpooling, parking cash-out programs, and pay-as-you-go auto insurance. A little excerpt:
Linking transit infrastructure investments with more dense development is only one part of successfully reducing commuting times. In heavily congested cities such as Toronto, aggressive complementary strategies are necessary to support transit use and raise funds for new investments, while encouraging more efficient use of existing road space.
The third article is from Cathy Crowe, Toronto’s fabled Street Nurse. She discusses Toronto’s poor heat-wave planning. For example, an extreme heat alert was issued Sunday July 16 in Toronto, the third day of a heat wave. This triggered the opening of three cooling centres for partial daytime hours and one 24-hour centre. Ten days later, the City declared a heat alert but did not open cooling centres and city council voted to not even debate a motion on measures to respond to the heat. But in American cities, hundreds of cooling centres were set up including Baltimore (11 centres), St. Louis (60) Chicago (100) and New York (more than 300). Boston and Chicago had free shuttle bus services to transport vulnerable populations to cooling centres, situated in community centres, police stations, libraries, park facilities and other locations.
photo courtesy GLRC