Transportation and urban development issues are some of the most pressing environmental challenges in Ontario today.
Transportation is the largest and fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario. Passenger transportation currently contributes the largest share of that total, though emissions from moving goods are growing rapidly. Both forms of transportation also contribute significantly to local air pollution.
These issues are most severe in southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area. Urban sprawl, traffic congestion, long commutes and inadequate transit infrastructure are having a negative impact on both the economy and individual quality of life. Changing how people and goods move — including by what mode, with what fuel and how far — as well as where people live is therefore a key priority for the Pembina Institute in Ontario.
We take a two-pronged approach to shifting commuting patterns and thus reducing emissions.
The first strategy is to help people change the mode by which they get around, by making low-emission options — such as taking transit or driving an electric vehicle — more convenient and affordable.
The second is to reform development policies and homebuying practices to encourage people to “live where they go.” Specifically, that means living in location-efficient neighbourhoods where residents can walk or cycle to workplaces, amenities and rapid transit, rather than depending on a car.
We also support changes to the policies, incentives and options available for transporting goods in Ontario that could reduce the number of heavy-duty vehicles on the road. This would contribute to further reducing harmful emissions and congestion.
Getting on track
After years of inadequate investment in infrastructure, the challenges related to traffic, transit and goods movement have reached a critical point in southern Ontario. These issues are top-of-mind for residents and their elected representatives.
The Pembina Institute’s technical expertise and policy acumen allows us to evaluate the impacts of different policies and financial tools, and to promote sound, evidence-based solutions to improve Ontario’s transportation systems and urban development plans.
Our consulting practice informs much of this work. We serve as technical consultants for the public, private and non-profit sectors, which allows us to develop strategic partnerships and influence change first-hand. We have a proven track record of collaborating with diverse groups in southern Ontario on transportation and development issues.
Communication is an equally important aspect of our transportation and urban development work. Much of our effort goes into distilling technical information into more accessible forms, to better engage stakeholders and influence decision makers.