Toronto Votes 2022: Former environmental commissioner Dianne Saxe joins Ward 11 race

14 September 2022 / by Daniel Centeno

In the lead up to the 2022 Toronto municipal election, CJRU is reaching to all candidates in the downtown wards. 

With more than 120 years of family roots in University-Rosedale, former environmental commissioner of Ontario Dianne Saxe said she is ready to represent Ward 11 and bring affordability and refocused climate action to the forefront.

“Particularly for my work as environmental commissioner of Ontario, I have been privileged to receive a high degree of public trust and I want to repay that trust by working for a better future.”

Saxe said she made the decision to run for the seat after incumbent Mike Layton’s decision to not seek re-election, as well as continuing her work for the community.

Prior to joining the municipal election race, Saxe was the Green Party’s candidate for University-Rosedale during the Ontario election this past June.

She finished fourth as the NDPs held the riding, and she said the experience of speaking to residents and knocking on doors allowed her to learn more about the ward’s needs.

Further, Saxe said seeing the enthusiasm for climate action around the ward encouraged her to continue working in politics.

“There’s an enormous opportunity right now for me to put my shoulder to the wheel and to be part of the solutions,” she said. “I’ve devoted my life to fighting the climate and environmental crises that threaten everything that you and I care about.”

On the climate action front, Saxe said the city has set good targets, but “isn’t doing much to achieve them.”

One of her goals is to create a carbon budget and allow more public engagement in finding solutions.

To reduce CO2 emissions and lessen the reliance on fossil fuels, Saxe said the city needs to look for every “fast, cheap and transformative” opportunity.

This includes emphasizing walking, biking and public transit to get around, as well as using road space to protect pedestrians by reducing the number of cars.

To achieve these goals, Saxe said it means transforming how the city should starting building for the future.

She proposes widening side walks, expanding the TTC riders program and the TTC fair pass discount program, and putting more emphasis on reducing fossil fuel consumption. She mentions two examples: more electronic buses and new building developments that do not rely on fossil fuels to function.

“We’re building for the future that is coming, not the last century,” she said.

For affordable housing, Saxe said Toronto should focus on making missing middle housing a right – this would help boast diverse, sustainable homes centred on being a walkable community.

To provide enough housing, Saxe said there needs to be flexibility in new developments through inclusionary zoning, expanding affordable housing benefits and a revolving loan fund to help non-profit organizations build and operate.

“We can’t default to the status quo,” she said. “We need to focus on combining a powerful and bold vision with a real understanding of how things get done, and I can be that voice.”

Saxe was the environmental commissioner of Ontario from 2015 to 2019. Since the 1970s, she has been an environmental lawyer in Toronto.

Toronto’s election is scheduled for Oct.24.

More information on Dianne Saxe’s campaign can be found here.

Listen to Dianne Saxe’s full interview: