The COVID-19 lockdown came in waves, first slowly, and then all at once. As the lockdown orders found their way to Ontario, the second half of March became filled with emails and notifications of events & meetings postponed or cancelled. Newsletters became filled with calls for people to stay home and stay safe. Organizing for anything but the mutual aid required to get our cities most vulnerable the supplies they needed took a back seat, and we as the Toronto Climate Action Network (TCAN), took a much needed pause. We delayed our upcoming events to give space for our members to find their footing as people in this new uneven terrain.
About a month later, as new information continued to roll in, and the question of how long this would last shifted from weeks, to months, the steering committee started began to check-in with one another. How were we doing? How did we feel about this time? Where was our place?
What emerged was a consensus that our commitment to climate justice was needed as much as ever, if not more, in the face of this pandemic. As many of our members engaged in the beginning conversations around a Just Recovery, we convened our members for a conversation to see if they were feeling similarly. And on the first warm Saturday of the spring, we hosted our first online general meeting, unsure if we’d have quorum. What happened instead, was remarkable. Over twenty organizations joined us and echoed our belief that we could not let the pandemic stop our organizing.
So instead, we dug in. We restarted our city strategy committee, we launched our new website, and we dove into planning for our joint submission to the city of Toronto around how they should structure the city's rebuild from COVID-19. This culminated in joint submission that was submitted to the city and then released to the media on July 15th. One of TCAN’s strength’s has been to effectively provide pathways from community groups and civil society to meaningfully consult on the cities climate policies. And ultimately that’s what this piece is about. TCAN’s long road working to push Toronto to more meaningful commitments on climate, and specifically the co-benefits that climate action can (and must) have on the most marginalized in our society.