Toronto Foundation has just released Vital Signs Report 2019: Growing Pains and Narrow Gains. This report provides a consolidated snapshot of the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in our city and each of the interconnected issue areas is critical to the wellbeing of Toronto and its residents.
Vital Signs examines ten issue areas. We are going to explore highlights of each of these sections. Issue Five is Environment.
The city has been successfully working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and improve its air and water quality, but the looming effects of climate change pose major threats to the city’s resilience.
- The number of very hot weather days is expected to increase by 2.5 times in the immediate future, elevating the risk of heatwave illnesses and death.
- Severe storms are on the rise, and the annual cost of weather disasters has increased more than fourfold in the last decade versus the previous 30 years, with half of that increase due to flooding.
- Toronto has made great progress at reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, though real investments will be needed to further reductions and help the city build resilience for the impacts of climate change.
- Waste diversion rates have remained stagnant over the last decade, and recycling contamination is a growing problem.
- Air quality has improved, with almost a total reduction in smog days versus a decade ago, and deaths and hospitalizations from air pollution decreasing somewhat.
- Water quality has also improved in the city, with beaches having far more swimmable days and lead in the water being reduced.
- Toronto has considerable green space in the city, though it is not evenly distributed. It is now home to North America’s biggest urban park and is a leader in green roofs.
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