City council to vote on $60B climate change plan, but who will pick up the tab?

As Toronto moves to boost its resiliency to increasingly severe storms, council is only days away from a vote that could decide the city's course in the long-term fight against climate change.

TransformTO could radically change how we live and get around

Advocates says this year's spring floods should spur city council into action against climate change. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

As Toronto moves to boost its resiliency to increasingly severe storms, council is only days away from a vote that could decide the city's course in the long-term fight against climate change.

But whether or not the estimated $60 billion required to pay for it will materialize is still up in the air.

On Tuesday, city council will vote on a motion to adopt the TransformTO climate action strategy.The ambitious plan includes goals such as an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with pre-1990 levels and using near zero-emission building design citywide by 2030.

The plan has been in the works, in some form, since 2007. Its advocates acknowledge that it's an ambitious plan, but say it's necessary for Toronto to navigate the coming years.

"We just hope that council will not only adopt the plan, but fully implement it and fully fund it," said Franz Hartmann, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

Council previously voted down a February motion that would have seen the plan receive partial funding in this year's budget. The first three years of the strategy will cost about $22 million, and Toronto Mayor John Tory has insinuated there might be money included in the 2018 budget.

"I'm proud to say we will have TransformTO, a major plan to move us forward as a city and change our behaviour," Tory said.

On a similar note, Tory is set to hold a press conference Thursday to detail how the city will combat extreme weather in the near future. On Wednesday, he was joined by the prime minister and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to announce a combined $1.2 billion to storm-proof the Port Lands area.

Residents on the Toronto Islands, which have seen around $5 million in flood damage this year, and the waterfront say a clear and transparent plan is desperately needed.

With files from Nick Boisvert

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