Sunday, June 14, 2009

Moving Forward on Toronto's RAP

Bob McDonald presents at the Gladstone Hotel

I attended a meeting on May 27 for the Toronto Remedial Action Plan (RAP). The focus of the meeting was to announce the publication of the 2007 Progress Report. This might seem a little late but given past experience with RAP this is pretty recent. The RAP process amasses quite a bit of data so compiling and analyzing it all takes some time.

Toronto's RAP is one of about 43 areas of concern around the shores of the Great Lakes. There are 26 in the US and 10 in Ontario and 5 shared. Remedial Action Plans first began in the mid 1980's. Since then only 2 sites have been delisted - Collingwood Harbour and Severn Sound. Toronto's RAP still has some ways to go.

The launch party was held at the Gladstone Hotel which was quite a swanky spot for such a mundane topic. Free hors d'oeuvres and DJ'd music were an interesting addition (unfortunately the beer was not free). Another surprise was that the meeting was emceed by CBC's environmental reporter Bob McDonald. There were presentations by a number of people from the TRCA, the city and Environment Canada all of whom have a stake in the RAP pie. Bob as emcee kept these presentations on track and not too long. Only one presenter, Michael D'Andrea went overtime.

After the presentation there was a chance to ask questions. One of the questions I asked was "When do you think Toronto will be delisted as an area of concern?" No one had a quick answer and the presenters seemed stymied. Eventually Adele Freeman from the TRCA picked up the microphone and said she hoped to see an end to the process in 15-20 years. I said I'd hold her to that and get back to her in 2024. She laughed and said she might not be around that long herself.

The 2007 progress report called Moving Forward is just that, a description of progress to date and current conditions. There are no big announcements or surprises but is more a collection of small but interesting items. The report is just one of a series of interim reports that have been produced that talk about ongoing initiatives.

One must place these reports in the current environmental context. Many of the problems that resulted in the RAP process being started are decades old and the quick fixes were all done in the first years of RAP. The remaining problems are all complex and require long-term and sustained efforts in order to resolve. For example, one of the biggest projects that RAP initiated was the Wet Weather Flow Management Master Plan. This project has a 25 year lifespan which will spend $1 billion dollars. It only started in 2003 and has 18 more years to go.

How does all this affect the Don? The Don River watershed is just one part of the Toronto RAP which extends from Etobicoke Creek to the Rouge River. The problems that affect the Don are also evident to a greater or lesser extent in each of the five other watersheds in Toronto. One hopes that if regional problems are solved or at least controlled, they will improve the conditions of the Don.

So far the report is only available in paper. I haven't seen any online edition yet but if I do I will make the link available through the blog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You may know of this but if not..
The City has now launched The Don River and Central Waterfront Project to zero in on some of the most degraded waterways in the city. In the Don River and the Inner Harbour, approximately 90 storm and/or sanitary sewer outfalls, or outlet pipes, overflow directly into our waterways during heavy rainfall or snowmelt. This means that debris washed into the sewers from our roads and raw sewage from combined sewers sometimes spill into our waterways.

The Don River and Central Waterfront Project will result in a solution to capture and treat stormwater and CSOs. In addition, the Project is also focused on a review and upgrade, where necessary, of our trunk sanitary sewers (large sewers that carry flows from smaller sewers to treatment plants).


Good site, hope job goes well.