After four year run, Toronto green initiative falls to the budget axe
Cyclists ride through Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto on Friday, July 13, 2012. (Michelle Siu / The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, November 11, 2012 9:01AM EST
TORONTO -- Environmentalists are expressing disappointment that a program to help Toronto residents develop environmental initiatives has finally fallen to the budget axe.
Toronto's community animator program, which has helped provide funding and structure to many local environmental projects, is ending in December after a four year run.
Members of some of Toronto's environmental groups say they are being stripped of an essential city resource.
Last year, Mayor Rob Ford's administration put the program on the chopping block but council voted to give it a one year reprieve.
The program started in 2009 as part of the city's plan to help Canada meet Kyoto climate change targets.
The city hired "community animators"-- experts in food sustainability and environmental issues -- to help local groups develop their own green initiatives.
Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon, who fought to extend the program, says the city doesn't have the money.
"I'd like for the program to on forever, but they're cutting a heck of a lot of things," McMahon said Saturday at an environmental forum, which was organized by members of the community animator program.
McMahon said the focus must shift to saving existing green initiatives like waste diversion and tree canopy campaigns, especially now that environmental programs are being cut.
Keely Kemp, a member of a loose green collective called Greening Ward 32, said the program was instrumental in giving her group the right focus by providing the right contacts and expert advice.
Greening Ward 32 recently organized a "green home" fair, which hosted practical workshops on how to properly insulate houses to save energy and money.
Kemp said she is disappointed the city isn't extending the program. She said the program is important because most people who are involved in green initiatives are volunteers who don't have the technical know-how.
"We have the passion. And the program gave us the expertise," she said.
The program's extension was projected to cost not more than $325,000. This was offset by drawing from the city's reserve funds.