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Toronto Marks Earth Day

Thousands of people across the GTA attended events to mark the 40th annual Earth Day Thursday to make their neighbourhoods and their nation a cleaner and greener place.

And there’s a lot of work to do: Earth Day celebrations came on the heels of a report released this week that suggests Canadian companies based in the Great Lakes basin spew out more dangerous chemicals per facility than their American counterparts.

The European Research Institute on Water Policy also recently called Canada out for its wasteful ways when it comes to our plentiful fresh water resources and fears the government will cave to U.S. pressure to commodify fresh water.

“I wouldn’t consider Canada amongst the good examples to follow in the world stage,” Riccardo Petrella, president of the European water research group, said.

The province said Thursday it wants to require all Ontario households to be equipped with toilets that use no more than six litres of water per flush.

Toronto’s enthusiasm for the Earth Hour event appears to have waned slightly. Toronto Hydro reported fewer people took part this year.

And a record amount of red ink on the provincial books prompted the government to renege on its plan to fund the ambitious Transit City initiative. The province cut $4 billion in funding and some projects intended to reduce our dependency on cars are now on hold, including light rail lines for Finch Ave. W., Sheppard Ave. E. and the Eglinton Ave. cross-town line.

Related: Mayor, Citizens Fight For Transit City

But it’s not all bad news. There’ve also been some significant developments on the eco-front over the past year.

In January, the province inked a $7 billion renewable energy deal with a consortium of South Korean companies, led by Samsung that will lead to the construction of wind and solar farms across the province.

And earlier this month the province announced it will hand out $8 billion to a wide range of international entities, including First Nations communities and major corporations, to create renewable energy projects across Ontario.

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the broad provincial pesticide ban.

Earlier this year the city passed a by-law requiring businesses to submit information on chemicals they use and release into the environment.

New bike lanes are coming to Jarvis Street – a move that has obviously made cyclists happy but angered many motorists.

Bike lanes on University Avenue are one step closer to becoming a reality. A city works committee voted in favour of a test project and city council is slated to vote on the plan in May. That same committee also voted in favour of bringing the BIXI bike-sharing program to the city. Council also has to give its stamp of approval on that proposal.

Urban renewal projects aimed at making central areas more pedestrian and cycling friendly are also rolling out across the city. This week the province gave its stamp of approval to allow the long-awaited Queen’s Quay revitalization project to get going. The West Don Lands are being transformed and that includes an interesting plan to build a new public space under a series of underpasses.

Farmers Markets across the city are getting bigger and better every year and Torontonians seem to be growing more and more interested in supporting local farmers and food producers.

What You Can Do On Earth Day

There are a number of events happening around the GTA to celebrate Earth Day, including tree plantings, community cleanups and film screenings.

Find an event near you

The Green Living Show kicks off Thursday at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place.

The city’s annual 20-Minute Makeover happens Friday afternoon. People are asked to band together and clean up litter in their neighbourhoods or around their workplaces.

More information on the 20-Minute Makeover

There will be a big Earth Day event happening at Downsview Park on Sunday afternoon. See details here.

E-Waste

Earth Day may have you thinking about hazardous items you need to dispose of. Here’s a look at how you can recycle electronic items and where you can drop of toxic materials for safe disposal:

City of Toronto – Drop Off Depots

Free Geek Toronto Used Computer Drop off – April 24, 51 Vine Avenue, Unit B, Toronto, 10am – 5pm. freegeektoronto.org

Computer donation – Little Geeks

Earth Day links and related stories:

Stories

The origins of Earth Day

New Park Under Busy Downtown Underpasses To Open In Spring 2011

New Bylaw Forces Businesses To Divulge Use Of Toxic Chemicals

Environment & Health Concerns Raised As Operations Set To In
crease At Island Airport

Surfing The Waste: A Musical Doc About Dumpster Diving

Toronto Artist Iner Souster Creates Sonic And Visual Wonders Out Of Junk

A Sneak Peek At Evergreen Brick Works [CityLine.ca]

Diving Into Disney’s ‘Oceans’ With ‘Sharkwater’ Director Rob Stewart

Links

Live Green Toronto

Earth Day Canada

David Suzuki Foundation

Council of Canadians Water Campaign

Farmers Markets Ontario

FoodShare