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Toronto City Council Calls for Ontario Gas Phaseout

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The Energy Mix is a Canadian non-profit that promotes community awareness of, engagement in, and action on climate change, energy, and post-carbon solutions. Each week, we scan up to 1,000 news...

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Toronto has become the 21st Ontario city, and by definition the largest, urging the Ontario government to phase out fossil gas-fired power generation as soon as possible, after councillors and Mayor John Tory adopted a resolution supporting a provincial ban by a 21-2 margin.

News reports on the landmark vote were apparently knocked off the page by a city staffer’s accidentally-broadcast profanity during the online council meeting. But the Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) reported the story yesterday in an alert to supporters.

OCAA lists Ajax, Brampton, Burlington, Cobourg, the County of Peterborough, Guelph, Halton Hills, Hamilton, King, Kingston, Kitchener, Mississauga, Niagara Falls, Orangeville, St. Catharines, Selwyn, Temiskaming Shores, Toronto, Waterloo, Windsor, and Woolwich as the communities now calling for a ban. The Toronto resolution was moved by Coun. Jennifer McKelvie, seconded by Coun. Mike Layton, opposed by Couns. Denzil Minnan-Wong and Stephen Holyday, and strongly opposed by Ontario Power Generation, Enbridge Inc., the Association of Power Producers of Ontario (APPrO), and the Ontario Energy Association.

The Atmospheric Fund CEO Julia Langer endorsed the phaseout call in mid-February, arguing that Toronto won’t meet its own climate targets without a provincial gas phaseout. She explained that “‘natural’ gas is actually methane, and it’s a potent fossil fuel often sourced from environmentally devastating fracking in the U.S.”

Last week, TAF identified fracked gas as the main culprit after reporting that greenhouse gas emissions had increased 7% in Toronto and 5.2% in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) in 2018.

As The Mix went to virtual press Thursday evening, local media in Toronto had not yet reported on the council resolution. But the Toronto Star was on the scene, reporting on a “hot mic” moment where a city manager accidentally told councillors exactly how he felt about the slow pace of their deliberations.

The Star’s only mention of the gas phaseout immortalized a councillor’s exclamation that “we’ve got gas,” after a call to reopen the vote on the resolution.

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