LEAD aND TORONTO'S DRINKING WATER
Sadly, safe drinking water is not available to everyone in Canada. We are fortunate that Toronto’s water treatment plants provide safe lead-free water. Nonetheless lead exists in pipes in many homes built before the mid-1950s, in those with solder used before 1990, and in leaded-brass faucets, valves, etc. Residential buildings exceeding six units have lead-free pipes since lead cannot sustain the water pressure required in large buildings.
Lead can affect the brain and nervous system growth. Toronto Public Health (TPH) considers the highest risk categories to be fetuses, infants particularly those on formula with tap water, and children under six. TPH strongly recommends replacing lead service piping on your property whenever the City replaces its own. Cutting the pipe to replace only one portion can cause lead particles to enter drinking water, leading to a temporary lead-level spike.
Lead in your Pipes & Water?
Read the City of Toronto’s recommendations on how to determine if your water is safe: Lead Testing For Toronto Residents
Lead Control Measures
- Phosphates: Toronto’s four water treatment plants began adding phosphate to our water in 2014. Early tests from homes with suspected lead pipes show lead levels decreasing. Toronto estimates that it could take up to 2 years for protective coatings to form inside pipes.
- Lead Pipe Replacement: Toronto considers itself responsible only for its lead service lines on public property, leaving owners responsible for the remainder on their own property. Owners must be able to take on the financial burden to fix the rest. The various policies geared to this problem, such as grants for property owners, are either non-existent, insufficient, or complex.
Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment is reviewing Ontario’s 10 micrograms (µg)/litre lead standard based on Health Canada’s revised 5µg/litre guideline and the Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council’s advice. The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) strongly supports strengthening Ontario’s standard to 5µg/litre and striving for lead-free drinking water. CELA recommends that the Safe Drinking Water Act and its regulations should be amended to require that a minimum of 75% of lead service lines in municipalities be replaced within 3-5 years. Ontario needs a legislative amendment because progress is much too slow and generally relies on homeowners taking their own initiative.
Toronto Can Do Better
By following CELA’s recommendations, Toronto could initiate a comprehensive lead-pipe replacement program for the City’s main line to each building/house connection, and the City could provide discounts for homeowners to replace the line on their property simultaneously. A program like this was offered more than a decade ago to Toronto residents. This replacement program makes sense because:
- Toronto Water could negotiate a fee per lineal-meter/house costing less than owners hiring contractors separately.
- Simplicity – replacing the entire line to a house is more efficient than doing each portion separately.
- Replacing all existing lead lines should improve the health of Torontonians and ultimately reduce health-care costs.
Additional information from the Canadian Environmental Law Association can be found here:
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION (TTC)
For schedules, fares, maps, service alerts, trip planner, Customer Service Initiatives, and much more go to www.ttc.ca
The SafeTTC App is a mobile app for both iOS and Android that offers TTC customers a quick and discreet method for reporting harassment, safety concerns or suspicious activity directly to the TTC’s Transit Control Centre. Using this app, customers can do their part to help make transit safer for all by providing detailed reports of incidents and situations that are observed on the TTC system – whether on a vehicle, in a station or at a bus or streetcar stop.
For more information go to: Safe TTC App
TTCriders is a grassroots transit advocacy organization that gives Torontonians who use the TTC a voice and spearhead actions to improve service for users. It emerged as a response to the tens of thousands of transit users who said that they want better transit in Toronto. Its vision for a public transit system is based on the following guiding principles:
- Fair and affordable fares
- Building modern, fast transit into all corners of the city as fast as possible
- Making public transit fully accessible transit
- Frequent service that connects all our neighbourhoods
- Environmental sustainability
- Respect for front line TTC workers
- Respect for fellow TTCriders
For more information, or to become a member of TTCriders, go to: www.ttcriders.ca
FRIENDS OF MOUNT PLEASANT CEMETERY
Friends of Toronto Public Cemeteries (FTPC) is a not-for-profit organization made up of volunteers working for the betterment of the community. Its purpose is to advocate to the government of Ontario for positive change and increased transparency and accountability through the interpretation, enforcement and updating of legislation governing the public trust now known as Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries (MPGC) which operates 10 GTA cemeteries including Mount Pleasant Cemetery, the large green space that serves as a place for veneration of the deceased and a destination for City residents looking for quiet contemplation, a place to walk or in engage in other forms of outdoor exercise.
FTPC is petitioning the Provincial Government to update legislation to protect the cemetery as a public trust. MPGC was established as a public trust by the Ontario Legislature in the 1800s and operated with public participation for over 150 years until the 1980s. The trust was funded 100% by the Ontario public, who continue to subsidize it through the forgiveness of all taxation. In the mid-2000s, the MPGC board took the position that it was their “commercial, privately owned cemetery” and that there was no public trust. The board declared it was accountable to no one, despite the public’s investment that had grown to an approximately $3 billion dollar asset encompassing 1,222 acres in the Greater Toronto Area and enjoying ongoing public subsidy.
In order to protect the Trust, and due to a vacuum in Provincial leadership and oversight, FTPC applied to the Courts to interpret and enforce the Province’s own legislation. Although FTPC won the case in Superior Court, the Ontario Court of Appeal reversed that decision and delivered the cemetery assets in private hands. MPGC can now lock the gates and restrict access to the cemetery, as we’ve seen recently during the Covid lockdown, or worse: it could sell the cemetery land to a multinational cemetery corporation.
In its ruling, the Court of Appeal did confirm that the Trust was created by the provincial Legislature which can re-legislate as it sees fit. The Government of Ontario must act to update the legislation to protect this substantial asset for the benefit of the public, with public oversight and transparency, as it was originally intended and governed for many years.
The Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations (FoNTRA) has recently written a letter to the Ontario government urging it to act: FoNTRA letter re: MPGC.
For more information, including the Friends of Toronto Public Cemeteries’ Petition, go to www.friendstpc.org/petition.html
LPRO is not directly involved in this effort, however since this is a well-known, much used and much loved property in midtown Toronto, we will continue to monitor and report on FTPC’s efforts.
Charter City Toronto is a group of independent residents of who believe cities are the most important level of government in our confederation, and that they should be accorded the respect, authority, resources and protection necessary for them to fulfill their responsibilities to their citizens, their neighbours, the province, the country and the world.
Find out more here: www.chartercitytoronto.ca