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April 2009
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Engineering and Public Policy

The last few weeks have been fairly busy for me and it seems like the trend will continue. Last week was the final week of classes at U.of.T for my Master’s courses. The week was quite stressful with an exam, a presentation and a final paper. The last evening were the presentation for my Engineering and Public Policy Course and the theme of an unsustainable city rang through.

Toronto and Ontario need to change their course of action.

In total there were 9 presentations (although I can only remember 8 of them right now). The target audience was typically the Ontario government but sometimes more locally with only the Toronto Government. Some of them have less to do with sustainability, the environment or transportation but I still included them.

Lowering Emissions: the group focused in on vehicle emissions, since it represents a serious amount of the carbon emissions in Ontario. In ways to minimize auto use they compared an even-odd system (where vehicles that end in an odd number drive one day, evens the other day), using emerging technologies to lower vehicle emissions, and a carbon cap system.

Making Ontario’s Health Record System Electronic: Yes, hospitals and clinics are still completely paper based. It’s inefficient and wasteful. Instead there should be something like a portal system to access records.

Dealing with Toronto’s Garbage: Although the group talked about diversion and techniques used in Sweden there was no mention about creating new diversion techniques in Toronto. The options they discussed with either land filling or incineration.

Supplying Energy to Toronto: With the current growth in Toronto we will be unable to supply the needed energy during peak demand times. Already underway is the construction on another massive power line to help alleviate this issue, but it’s not enough. This short-term solution needs a long-term solution. The presenters did mention the potential off-shore wind project on Lake Ontario but the bulk of their solution was the construction of more power lines.

HIV/AIDS in Canada: There is still no cure for HIV/AIDS. There drug regimens that allow individuals to lead almost normal lives. Awareness and education has somewhat dropped off the radar screen, the presenters emphasized the need for increased awareness and education programs.

Congested Road Network: The highways of the Golden Horseshoe are almost always congested. With a weak transit network it is difficult to be multi-modal. Instead the solution was for tolled lanes, HOV lanes, more Advanced Traffic Management Systems, and creating more capacity.

Waste-Water: With the population ever increasing in Toronto there is constant demand for the waste-water treatment plants. Currently the system is operating almost at capacity and with an ailing system it will soon not be able to meet demand. The authors discussed various treatment options and new sites that would be possible to deal with waste water.

The Aging Bridge Network: The province has downloaded 12,000 bridges to the municipalities and gave them a one-time payout for the inspection of these bridges. With the fatal collapses in Quebec and Minnesota the presenters believed that in Ontario we were not doing enough. The recommendation was for a province operated inspection program.

What none of these projects really touched upon was how we, as a society, can be more preventative. There was nothing about package minimization (yesterday the Toronto Star had an interesting article on this), creating new diversion programs, and nothing on changing the social attitudes of the population.

The evening of presentations definitely got me thinking about sustainability in Toronto and small things I could do to make a difference. What are things you do that help minimize your impact on the environment?

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Pingback from Topics about Toronto » Blog Archive » sasha on the street » Engineering and Public Policy
Time April 22, 2009 at 5:03 am

[…] Sasha placed an interesting blog post on sasha on the street » Engineering and Public PolicyHere’s a brief overviewThe evening of presentations definitely got me thinking about sustainability in Toronto and small things I could do to make a difference. What are things you do that help minimize your impact on the environment? … […]