Sustainability inSight

Achieving our Goals

MTO's sustainability strategy sets out strategic goals for MTO. However, we will need to take specific actions if we are going to achieve lasting change. These actions will be identified in each Sustainability Implementation Plan (SIP). Our first round of actions was generated through discussions with staff across the ministry as the strategy was being developed.

The SIPs will translate our goals into actions - while the strategic goals represent our desired destination, the action items will be the path we take to get there.

Reporting Progress

Every SIP will reflect back on prior commitments and identify progress that has been made. Through regular reporting, we will be able to:

  • quickly spot and deal with any unexpected challenges, threats or risks and take corrective action
  • share, recognize, celebrate and build on our successes

We know that making sustainability a regular part of how the ministry does business will take time. To help make and keep sustainability an everyday part of MTO work, we will:

  • integrate the three-year sustainability implementation cycle into the ministry's regular business planning and budgeting cycle
  • utilize change management practices to facilitate MTO's transition to a model sustainable organization

Tools for Change: Inside and Out

Meeting our sustainability objectives means that we must look at both our internal and external operations.

Tools for Change
Figure 4 - Tools for Change

Looking Inward: MTO's Business Practices

Integrating sustainability into MTO business means that we need to take a close look at how we operate and deliver services, focusing on eight business practices:

1 Business Planning

MTO and all other Ontario government ministries use an annual Results-based Planning (RbP) process to set business priorities, funding requirements and performance measures. Applying the principles of sustainability in RbP will ensure that MTO's programs achieve the desired results and outcomes efficiently and cost-effectively. The three-year SIP reporting cycle will also coincide with this corporate planning process to ensure coordination of resources and activities.

2 Standards and Practices

Standards and practices direct much of MTO's day-to-day business. For example, Ontario's road user safety standards ensure that our roads remain among the safest in North America. Many of the standards in use at MTO already have provisions that encourage sustainable practices. For example, pavement design standards make road building more sustainable by maximizing the service life of pavements, and reducing, reusing and recycling materials. These practices allow MTO to use less energy, emit fewer greenhouse gases and consume fewer raw materials as the ministry carries out its operations. New standards to make our transportation system more sustainable will be considered on an ongoing basis.

3 Environmental Assessment

All of MTO's infrastructure projects require approval under Ontario's Environmental Assessment (EA) Act, 1990. Most of the projects follow the process detailed in the MTO Class EA for Provincial Transportation Facilities. The Class EA process is a streamlined self-assessment process. It fulfills the requirements of the EA Act without the necessity of submitting an EA report to the Minister of the Environment for each project. Projects covered by the Class EA occur on a frequent basis. Their impacts are generally predictable or well-understood. Applying the Class EA process allows MTO to achieve the required standards of environmental protection, accountability and consultation, using a standard pre-approved process. Recently, Ontario introduced a new, expedited Class EA process for transit projects. It is now possible to complete the necessary approvals in a six-month time-frame.

For projects that are more complex, or have the potential for more significant environmental impacts, an Individual EA process is followed. An Individual EA follows a project-specific Terms of Reference that is approved by the Minister of the Environment.

4 Procurement and Third-Party Contracts

The Ontario government is a significant purchaser. Its purchasing volume has an impact on the Ontario economy, with the potential to influence the price and availability of goods and services in the province. Integrating sustainability evaluation criteria into the procurement process will reduce the ecological footprint of government operations. Third-party providers implement much of MTO's business. MTO contracts with external service providers present an opportunity to include sustainability requirements in bid documents. Currently, vendors responding to a Request for Proposal for contracts with MTO's Provincial Highways Management Division can add an "innovation proposal" to their submission. They can propose innovative approaches to delivering a service with the assurance that, if MTO decides to pursue a more traditional method, they can still be considered in the bidding process. Inviting innovative proposals in this risk-free way can identify new ways of doing business that are more sustainable, expedient and cost-effective.

5 Employee Education and Awareness Raising

Educating and raising awareness about sustainability among ministry employees is a critical part of the sustainability strategy. Both formal professional development workshops and informal learning forums, such as "lunch and learn" sessions, can help us share our experiences and expertise. MTO continues to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainability by:

  • participating in the annual Clean Air Commute, which encourages MTO employees to reduce the ecological footprint of their daily commute
  • educating staff about sustainable office practices to reduce the significant resources (e.g., energy, water and paper) that MTO employees use on a daily basis
  • participating in annual Earth Day celebrations at numerous ministry offices throughout Ontario

6 Participation in OPS Green Transformation

In accordance with the corporate Ontario Public Service (OPS) Green Transformation initiative, MTO will develop and implement a ministry green plan. This initiative seeks to reduce the OPS environmental footprint, to pursue environmental sustainability through greener business practices, and to create a green organizational culture. To help achieve this green organizational culture, the SEN will continue to play a role as MTO's official Green Team.

Through this initiative, OPS ministries will pursue targets for energy conservation, fuel efficiencies, and reduction in consumables like paper and packaging. It will also ensure compliance with OPS-wide green standards that support a coordinated, enterprise-wide, green transformation of our internal office practices.

7 Employee Recognition

MTO employees have already demonstrated that they are willing and able to support the ministry's efforts to reduce its ecological footprint in creative, cost-effective ways. Recognizing staff efforts to incorporate sustainable business practices will help raise awareness of sustainability and confirm its importance to MTO. Celebrating these achievements will encourage staff to continue to find ways to integrate sustainability into their work.

8 MTO Statement of Environmental Values

As one of the 14 Ontario government ministries covered by the Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993, MTO has a Statement of Environmental Values (SEV). The SEV is the framework that MTO uses when making decisions that may affect the environment. It reflects the environmental issues and considerations specific to our mandate and explains how MTO will consider environmental impacts when making decisions. It also explains how we will integrate those impacts with economic and social considerations. Among other considerations, the ministry's decision-making should take into account: the importance of environmental protection in the ministry's approach to the planning, design, maintenance and construction of transportation infrastructure the need to encourage other modes of transportation as alternatives to the single-occupant vehicle and to integrate land-use and transportation planning the value of public and Aboriginal community consultation in environmental decisions The sustainability strategy reinforces MTO's Statement of Environmental Values by evaluating and reducing our environmental impacts, internally and within Ontario's transportation system.

Looking Outward: Ontario's Transportation System

MTO has several mechanisms through which it can integrate sustainability into the provincial transportation system:

1 Legislation and Regulations

MTO can use legislation and regulations to encourage sustainable activities and discourage activities that do not support a more sustainable transportation system. For example, Ontario is responsible for trucking industry regulation. MTO recently passed legislation to mandate the use of speed limiters for transport trucks that keep them from going over 105 kilometres per hour. Benefits include reduced GHG emissions, increased safety and improved fuel economy. The measures in the Highway Traffic Act, 1990 which ban off-road vehicle operation that disrupts or destroys the natural environment (e.g., fish habitats) are another example.

2 Policies and Programs

MTO's policies are "made-in-advance" decisions. Policies guide ministry staff in identifying actions that will help achieve government priorities and commitments. For example, under the Metrolinx Act, 2006, the Minister of Transportation has the authority to issue a transportation planning policy statement (TPPS) for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). Since municipal transportation planning must conform to the TPPS, the statement provides guidance and a common policy direction for municipalities in the GTHA.

Programs implement policy objectives in specific ways. In the summer of 2009, MTO began a pilot program to allow a limited number of commercial trucking operators to pull two full-sized trailers - referred to as long-combination vehicles (LCVs) - on designated Ontario highways. Allowing LCVs on designated highways has both economic and environmental benefits: retailers and manufacturers can move goods at lower cost, and the reduction in fuel use cuts GHG emissions by approximately one-third. At the same time, this program continues to support Ontario's commitment to road safety: studies show that LCVs have fewer collisions than conventional tractor-trailers.

3 Economic Instruments

MTO funding to municipalities, transit authorities, non-governmental organizations and other entities plays a significant role in determining how the transportation system takes shape. Other economic instruments, like grant programs directed towards the public or businesses, also influence transportation choices.

The Green Commercial Vehicle Program (GCVP), launched in 2008, is an example of a grant program that promoted the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles and anti-idling technologies for trucks. Programs like this support economic development. The GCVP helped Ontario businesses to modernize their fleets and reduce operating costs by investing in new vehicle technologies. The technologies supported by the grant also benefit the environment, improving the fuel efficiency of Ontario's commercial-fleet vehicles.

4 Infrastructure

Building, maintaining and operating physical infrastructure is a significant part of the ministry's business. The choices we make about the kind of infrastructure that we build - and how and where we build it - have long-lasting impacts. There are many opportunities to increase the sustainability of our infrastructure. For instance, to help manage congestion in Southern Ontario, MTO has developed a plan to add over 450 kilometres of new HOV lanes on 400-series highways in the GTHA over the next 25 years. HOV lanes make better use of our highways by moving people more efficiently in fewer vehicles.

5 Public Education

Providing high quality information is a key component of changing behaviour. People need to know about and understand the transportation options that are available to them. Making the choice to take an unfamiliar route or mode of transportation is made much easier by the availability of relevant information.

Currently, both the Official Driver's Handbook and the beginner driver education curriculum include information about "eco-driving" behaviour as part of the education of new drivers. In 2009, MTO prepared, and distributed to Ontario schools, resource materials to help educators incorporate road safety education into their lessons. These materials are aimed at developing life skills related to using sustainable transportation modes and being safe passengers and drivers. In addition, through local safety events, the ministry works with stakeholders to promote safe cycling among young and adult riders. MTO also publishes and distributes the Young Cyclist's Guide and Cycling Skills: Ontario's Guide to Safe Cycling.

Raising awareness among stakeholders is also important. In May 2007, MTO hosted the Sustainable Transportation Forum, a two-day conference that brought together local and international policy makers, academics, environmentalists, non-governmental organizations, industry and others to share ideas for a more sustainable and better-integrated transportation system. The TransForum allowed people from different sectors to connect and learn from each other. The dialogue that started there continues to inform our understanding of the possibilities for transportation improvements. Presentations and a summary of the conference are available as resources from MTO's website.

6 Partners and Stakeholders

MTO has a well-established network of stakeholders and partners who are instrumental in raising and resolving issues. Working closely with stakeholders provides the ministry with insight into the perspective of the users of our transportation system. Our partners and stakeholders can also help us reach people in ways that MTO could not achieve alone. Programs that are developed in partnership with people outside government can effectively address underlying issues or business needs. Such collaboration allows MTO to build on the knowledge and experiences of others.

How MTO is Recycling Roads

It is standard MTO practice to reuse and recycle construction materials. Some industrial by-products (e.g., roofing shingles, municipal construction waste) are used in road-building materials, reducing the need for new aggregates and asphalt. One method of pavement recycling used by MTO, called Cold In-Place Recycling (CIR), has a number of benefits. Compared to traditional paving methods, CIR:

  • emits 50 per cent fewer GHGs
  • consumes 62 per cent fewer aggregates
  • costs 40 to 50 per cent less than conventional treatments (per two-lane kilometres of road)

Where there is a need for new aggregate, MTO uses local sources, whenever possible, to use less fuel and reduce other haulage costs.

How MTO is Reducing its Environmental Footprint

In both its internal and external operations, MTO has taken steps to minimize its impact on the environment. For example:

  • MTO staff can use the "Catch a Ride Program.” It lets them reserve a seat on the MTO mail shuttles that travel between ministry offices at Queen’s Park, Downsview and St. Catharines during the business day. Ride-sharing is an ideal way to reduce the number of cars on the road and reduce GHG emissions.
  • MTO has converted its traffic signals to Light Emitting Diodes (LED). This change has reduced energy consumption by 80 per cent, resulting in energy savings of 12 million kWh annually and an 80 per cent reduction in maintenance.

A Closer Look at the Windsor-Essex Parkway

The Windsor–Essex Parkway ( is an unprecedented highway project that will link Highway 401 with a new international bridge. It has one-of-a-kind scope, features and benefits to travellers and the community. For the first time in Ontario, a highway project will include tunnelled roadways, providing community connections and restoring natural linkages.

Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to enjoy 20 kilometres of new recreational trails. They will be able to travel the length of the corridor without encountering a motor vehicle. Their use will be safe for the whole family. The Windsor–Essex community will benefit from more than 300 acres of green space and will participate in deciding how these green spaces will be used.

The Windsor–Essex Parkway is the most significant single highway investment the province has made in Ontario’s history. It will provide a major boost to the local and regional economies, creating an expected 12,000 project-related jobs.

How MTO Supports TDM Projects

In 2009, MTO provided grants to 21 municipal governments to implement TDM projects, through the TDM Municipal Grant Program. In the first two years of the program, over $750,000 in grants have been awarded to support 34 municipal TDM projects.

The 34 projects selected over the first and second years of the program include a wide range of TDM initiatives, some quite innovative for Ontario. They include community-wide bicycle safety and commuter challenge promotions; walk-to-school programs; new bicycle parking and bike path signage; comprehensive TDM and active transportation plans for neighbourhoods and entire regions; and transit promotion campaigns targeted to school children, riders with disabilities and rural residents.