Definition: Make Cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
- By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
- By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
- By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management
List of Policy Changes and Cuts:
- Reduced the size of Toronto City Council
- Reduced or eliminated funding to various think tanks
- Reduced funding for the Ontario Library Service
- Reduced funding for flood management
- Introduced legislation that affects development and inclusionary zoning
- Designed a plan to expand Toronto’s subway system
This Sustainable Development Goal relates to the efforts made to provide adequate housing and infrastructure to support our population growth, as well as reduce vulnerability to disasters.
Part of creating strong and engaged communities is having elected representatives to help support the growth and address the needs and concerns of their constituencies. That objective was compromised by the decision to reduce the size of Toronto city council from 47 city councillors to 25. Prior to the these changes a four-year review had actually determined that an increase in the size of council was essential for effective representation.[i] City councillors are much more entrenched in the processes and events taking place in their local areas than MP’s and MPP’s, making their presence integral for community building. The reduction of councillors by nearly half impedes the ability of the population’s needs to be heard and addressed –particularly those who are vulnerable and underrepresented.
There have also been changes that affect the province’s capacity to build efforts in knowledge mobilization, research, and capacity building. Think tanks across the province have had their provincial funding reduced or cancelled, leading to the closures of the Mowat Centre, and the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity. The Mowat Centre was a policy think tank established in 2009 that conducted research projects related to public policy on a wide variety of topics including education, immigration and climate change. The Institute for Competitiveness was initially created by then premier Mike Harris and was designed to examine polices and strategies that could help Ontario become more competitive. Think tanks constantly research, question, analyze and advance ideas on how to improve the lives of Canadians. The loss of capacity in this sector is a huge impediment to creating stronger and more resilient communities.
An important issue for Ontario over the last several years has been the increase in the frequency of floods, and their impact to local communities. Conservation authorities have had to increase their responsibilities, which include forecast flooding and issuing warnings, monitoring stream flow, regulating development activities in flood plains, educating the public about flooding and protecting natural cover that helps reduce the impacts of flooding. After this year’s provincial budget was announced, Conservation Ontario was informed that they had their flood management programs reduced by half.
Bill 108, the More Homes, More Choice Act, is another bill passed this year. The legislation related to housing development in Ontario and included substantial changes to the planning and appeal process, municipal revenue generation tools and environmental protection (see “Life Above Land”). Most municipalities appear to be opposed to the legislation due to the additional authority and leeway given to developers who are eager to override local planning decisions, and how it would affect municipalities’ ability to carry out community building and good planning. The legislation would also change municipalities’ ability to impose development charges, which help cover the cost of services that align with community growth, including roads, parks, and sewer infrastructure.
There have also been announcements that impact the sustainability of transportation in our communities. A plan has been presented for public transit infrastructure in Toronto that is of high priority. The provincial government has brought forward a $28.5 billion plan to build transit in Toronto, including extending one of the subway lines into York region, as well as building a downtown relief line that is more extensive than previously planned. Investing in public transit is a pathway to building more economically and environmentally sustainable communities. While the plan requires approximately half of the funding be allocated from other levels of government, designing a plan that prioritizes public transit and indicates the importance of building local communities around subway stations is a step in the right direction for creating a healthier city.
[i] City of Toronto. (2016). New Wards for Toronto: Toronto Ward Boundary Review. Retrieved July 22, 2019 from https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/8d62-Attachment-1-TWBR-Final-Report-FINAL.pdf.