According to the Toronto Environmental Office, vehicles are responsible for 35% of all greenhouse gases (GHG) produced in Toronto (City of Toronto, 2011), and the Clean Air Partnership estimates that idling in the GTHA wastes 90 million litres of fuel each year (ibid), which further justifies the need to combat gridlock and traffic congestion with effective government policies.
Air is a transboundary problem therefore no one jurisdiction, whether it is a municipality, province, country or continent, can completely control the air in which its residents breathe in. In addition, each have their own authority to uphold air quality for its residents but cannot control the air pollution coming in from neighbouring provinces and countries. Under the Constitution of Canada, provinces have jurisdictional control over air, which is considered a natural resource. The provinces have the power to delegate this responsibility to the different municipalities and regional governments but the municipal governments have very limited powers in making substantial changes to things like transboundary pollution. When looking at the GTHA, the air pollution and traffic congestion problems in the city of Toronto are caused not only from its own residents but also from commuters in neighbouring municipalities and regions like the City of Hamilton in the west and Durham Region in the east.
Seeing as how environmental problems are not always localized, Hay (1994) makes an important point about the need for inter-state measures (p. 221-222). The author also argues that the state is the major factor preventing a response to crisis (p. 217-218), or in this case, a serious issue with congestion and gridlock air pollution, therefore the residents need to influence policy makers to step up and change the direction and severity of congestion in the GTHA in order to increase air quality. Since the traffic congestion—and the subsequent pollution—in Toronto and the GTHA comes from multiple different municipalities, there is a need for communication and cooperation among these different municipalities. Cooperation will be key in combating decreasing air quality as a result of gridlock and traffic congestion.
Although air quality falls under different jurisdictions and is subject to various laws and regulations that cross municipal and provincial jurisdictions, municipal governments can exert control, even with their limited powers, by creating bylaws that help increase the air quality in Toronto. On top of creating bylaws within the city, the municipalities must ensure that they work with the different levels of governments to pass worthwhile laws and regulations across the province that will help reverse the decreasing air quality in the GTHA and in the province in general.
Traffic Congestion has been a problem for those living in the city and those commuting to the city for years now. The Toronto Region Board of Trade (2013) points out how investing in the regional...