CityTV brings ‘Anti-environmental’ North York bylaws to Mayor’s attention
by Franke James
Image from CityTV interview.
The power of the press went to work yesterday to help us fight the climate crisis at the local level.
CityTV spotted the story, “Eco-friendly driveway is rejected by the city” and in an interview for the 6pm CityTV News, quoted me saying, “It would look beautiful and it would be environmentally friendly,” James promises of her dream green space. “We sold our car, we unplugged our beer fridge, I’m writing about the environment,” she added. “We’re doing whatever we can and I’m mad as hell.”
The reporter, Melissa Grelo, really nailed the bylaw schism which applies different (anti-green) rules for residents of North York than Toronto (concrete proof that the amalgamation of North York into the Greater Toronto Region has not been achieved, yet). Grelo contacted the Mayor’s office, which resulted in a promise to look specifically into our situation. See the text summary of Grelo’s interview, North York Driveway By-Law Infuriates Resident.
We’re hoping the City will give us some environmentally-friendly options for driveway materials. A concession which would allow us to put down pavers, and have grass grow between them would be an improvement. Water management is an issue we take very seriously. It’s not just the City sewers that would have to handle less water if we had more green space. We are directly, and adversely, affected by water runoff. Since we bought the property, we have suffered sewer backups, damaging floods (over $10,000 in one insurance claim as a result of the August 19, 2005 flood that hit Toronto) and waterproofed the foundation of our home at a cost of $13,000. The next step for us in the battle against water runoff, is to increase the amount of green space around our home. Of course, the other positive environmental benefit will be that by planting trees and shrubs, we will reduce the ‘heat island’ effect of hard surfaces, and naturally cool our house in the summer.
I ask you to do this… When you’re travelling around your neighbourhood, open your eyes to the amount of hard surfaces. Our urban environment would be a lot more pleasant, and healthier for everyone, if we planted more trees, and shrubs and reduced the amount of hardscape. The Toronto.ca website, talks about the need to be green. And yet, their bylaws (in North York) contradict their words. As my mother always said, “Listen to what people say. But watch what they do. Actions speak much louder than words.”
Mayor Miller, if you’re reading this, I’d love to chat with you about our goal for a green front yard. We both want the same thing: Toronto to be the greenest city in North America. I’m willing to work to make it happen.
NEW UPDATE MAY 9/07
Lloyd Alter at Treehugger.com wrote up our driveway dilemma yesterday:
Don’t Rip Up Your Driveway in North York
“We last visited Franke James when she decided to do the “hardest thing” and get rid of her car. Logically she doesn’t need a big paved driveway to her garage any more so she determined to tear it up and replace it with a more environmentally benign material that would absorb water and reduce the urban heat island effect….” Read more