Our MPP’s year in review

It has been a year of new beginnings. A year ago, I was honoured to be elected by you to represent our community at Queen’s Park.  A little over a month later, I welcomed my first child into the world. In that time I have been working tirelessly at Queen’s Park and in our community for positive change.

I am proud to stand up for you, and now my son Aleksandar, who reminds me every day of why it is important to build a better future for all of us.

This past year, we’ve come together often at Town Halls I’ve hosted on fairer auto insurance, such as my bill that would have reduced premiums by a billion dollars, and on fighting the cuts to education, autism funding and this government’s bill that will now allow developers to build with little community input and benefits to neighbourhoods. We have connected at local events and meetings, parent-teachers councils, seniors’ groups and more. We’ve shared our ideas, voiced concerns, signed petitions, and I’ve brought them all to Queen’s Park. I am proud of what we’ve done together.

It is important that our students understand how important their role in our community is.  As such, I have created an annual Youth Community Leadership Award for ‘civic engagement’ which I have had the pleasure of giving to many students at the 30+ graduation ceremonies in our riding. My office and I also actively participate in the Humber River-Black Creek Youth Council, which now meets regularly to discuss issues within our province and city. These are our future leaders and I am very proud of doing what I can to encourage them.

The legislature has risen for the summer, I will continue to knock on doors, attend our local events and meetings, and assisting you when you need me. You can reach my office at 416-743-7272 or email at TRakocevic-CO@ndp.on.ca, and keep up to date by following me on Twitter at @RakocevicT and on Facebook. 

I wish you all a safe and happy summer!

Plastic is in our food and water: At five grams a week we are eating a credit card every week

The Downsview community has many proud homeowners, with countless manicured green lawns. The neighbourhood’s emerald gardens are a testament to another time’s concept of an oasis. Green, clean and neat, with rows of driveways in between. But even here you find plastic everywhere. Whether its plastic ties, bags, wrappers, bottles or straws. Plastic debris blow in with the wind but dig into any yard and you will find more of it in the soil. 

Most of us have come to accept plastic materials as part of our daily life without recognizing the impact that it has on our environment. It is flowing into our waterways at such speed, that it is changing life in the oceans.  In 30 years, scientists believe there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Today, there is an island of plastic in the Pacific larger than France. 

In Toronto, the problem is of a different nature. The oceans are far away, and Canada has some of the largest sources of drinking water in the world. Except, small plastic particles called microplastics are getting into everything we consume. Whether we drink water from the tap or from a bottle, we are ingesting tens of thousands of small plastic particles each year. A study estimates an average person is consuming 250 grams of plastic every year. That adds up to eating a credit card-size worth of plastic every week (in case you are wondering, tap water has is far cleaner of microplastics than bottled water).

We have been utilizing the blue bin recycling program for about 30 years here in Downsview. However, a number of recent news reports tell us that much of what we toss into the blue bin does not actually get recycled. Because much of the plastic we produce cannot ever be recycled and because of contamination of the materials, most of our plastic ends up in landfills or worse. Only about 10% of all plastic products ever made have been recycled. 

The long-term effects that micro-plastics will have on our health are still unknown, but we do not need a science degree to know the effects cannot be good. Plastic is poisoning our water, our food and our bodies. The only real solution is to stop using as much plastic in our everyday lives. We need to make the effort to switch to more reusable and biodegradable materials and avoid single-use plastics altogether. We need more reusable bags, reusable cups, reusable straws, less packaging in our products and less single use plastics. The recent push to eliminate single-use straws is a good starting place but we cannot stop there.

We are leaving mountains of garbage for the next generation. Let’s clean up our act and leave our planet in a better state than how we found it. 

Sources:
https://globalnews.ca/news/5099574/toronto-recycling-packaging-landfills/ 

https://qz.com/1644802/you-eat-5-grams-of-plastic-per-week/

Significance of ravines and cycle paths in Toronto

Toronto is known for its vast network of ravines. As the population continues to soar, so does the recreational use of these natural, public spaces. With the summer season upon us, now is the best time to ride a trail or enjoy a picnic with friends in a local ravine.

The City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) monitor our watershed areas and invest in the most up-to-date measures to protect parkland and floodplains. The effects of climate change are intensifying and require constant monitoring. Watershed refers to the land that catches rainfall and drains it into local bodies of water, including ravines.

All watershed areas in Toronto are considered river watersheds, with the exception of the waterfront area that drains into Lake Ontario. All activities in our parks, whether they are solo or communal in nature, should aim to preserve or improve outdoor spaces. That objective ensures that current and future generations can enjoy what our ravines have to offer, which is a connection to our past, present and future here in our city. 

Throughout history, our ravine network has carved out natural neighbourhood boundary lines. The Humber River, for example, is entrenched in our local ravine network and has inspired parks, trails, and schools to incorporate the name. Humber-River Black Creek is even the name of our electoral district at all levels of government. Black Creek Pioneer Village is named after the Black Creek because of the community that originally settled on the parkland.

Living in a city, it is important to understand the significance of our natural landscape and how it’s shaped the people who live there. Through continued effort and appreciation we can commit ourselves to sustainable, outdoor practices. Our cycle trails, for example, provide a cost-effective, healthy and highly energizing way of connecting with our ravines. 

The Toronto Bicycling Network organizes short Ravine Rides throughout the city, each lasting from 1-3 hours in duration. These routes prioritize cycling through trails in order to avoid busy roads, and they normally incorporate a loop path back to a specific location for coffee and snacks after the ride. All starting points for Ravine Rides are conveniently located near subway stations. Cycling is a great way to exercise and meet people, as well as explore our City’s natural features without causing them any harm.

Some of the most notable trails that run through our community are the Finch West Trail that runs from Antibes to Norfinch along the hydro corridor, the Black Creek Trail that runs from Pioneer Village to Northwood Park along the Black Creek Parkland, and the East Humber Trail that starts from Steeles and runs South to the West Humber Recreational Trail. The East Humber Trail leads south to two connections, both the North Humber Trail and the West Humber Trail. You can visit the City of Toronto’s Cycling Map at: https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/streets-parking-transportation/cycling-in-toronto/cycling-google-map/ for further information about Toronto’s cycle trails and road routes.

Everyone can benefit from spending more time in our green spaces, whether that be an open park or shaded ravine, biking a trail or photographing the local wildlife. Toronto’s ravines and cycle paths are ours to discover.