Some like it hot. Some Torontonians do not

In this week’s newsletter, we highlight a collaboration with The Local, an investigative effort between The Narwhal and the Toronto Star and some dirt on, well, dirty oil facilities

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An illustration of smoke layered on Toronto during the night
Talk about timing. 

A day before we launched Toronto’s Climate Right Now, a collaboration with our friends over at The Local, Torontonians were sent a heat warning, again. It was excellent, if a bit unsettling, to have a full series of stories set to go about climate change, vulnerability and adaptation in Canada’s largest city. 

There’s no denying that Toronto is getting hotter, Inori Roy reports. In fact, it’s getting so hot that even climate projections with low-carbon emissions show triple the amount of 30 C days by 2050. And what problems await the worst case scenario? Barren trees, cooked bird eggs and flooded emergency rooms — to name a few. 

The city is not well-equipped to handle the heat waves of today, let alone tomorrow.

That’s not all for the current climate of Canada’s most populous region. 

As Emma McIntosh writes, Toronto’s politicians have pushed the fight against traffic-related air pollution to the backburner — even though effective solutions are within reach. And who is bearing the brunt of it all, you ask? Mirroring the sweat inequity, marginalized residents are disproportionately affected.

But in the midst of it all, there are silver linings, even if they are accidental. Rose-breasted, double-crested, wing-flapping silver linings — all returning to a wasteland-turned-aviary paradise, indicating not all hope is lost.
A yellow warbler

This hyper-local joint effort with another non-profit news outlet is ideal, allowing us to bring you stories on topics ranging from reflections on bringing new life into an increasingly unliveable world, “invasive” species to climate positive islands to road salt. Yes, road salt.

Catch up if you’ve missed it, and look out for Fatima Syed’s story coming out this weekend: spoiler alert, it has lots of pictures of cute kids in it. 
The 11 species at risk confirmed to be living along the route of Highway 413 include seven birds, a frog, a minnow, a dragonfly and a type of tree.

What’s up with Doug Ford’s pet project?

In more collaborative Ontario news, documents obtained by The Narwhal and the Toronto Star indicate nearly a dozen species at risk are living along the proposed route of Highway 413, according to the provincial government’s own research. 

It’s worrisome, say environmental groups, to disrupt ecosystems and put already-vulnerable species in jeopardy for highway projects. 

Take the red-headed woodpecker for example, one federally protected animal. The bird drills holes in trees, creating dwellings for other animals and insects, and spreads acorns and beechnuts all around — a true environmental collaboration: “Species here are part of an interdependent fabric of life.” 

This quiet confirmation poses questions about Ottawa’s involvement — should the feds be stepping in?

Rest assured, our Ontario “scoopette” Emma will be on the lookout, updating us about the future of Highway 413 along the way. 

Take care and be a team player, 

Karan Saxena
Audience fellow
Headshot of Karan Saxena
Photo of an oil carrier, with clouds in the background

The Narwhal investigates

You’re already familiar with Carl Meyer’s diligent investigative work — including a recent story for which he clicked through a bunch of email attachments. And boy, were there plenty of attachments. 

These leaked emails revealed how industry lobbying resulted in loopholes in Alberta’s methane rules for some of the province’s oldest and dirtiest facilities — just as regulations were set to become more stringent. 

There were fears within the Alberta Energy Regulator about whether or not these methane rules would be enforced, especially when it came to heavy emitters like Canadian Natural Resources Limited. 

Turns out those fears were justified: even after “educational” inspections, facilities continue to break regulations.

What’s more? Jason Kenney’s government vowed to protect the environment when it imposed a large-scale suspension of some rules in the oilpatch when the pandemic first struck in 2020. Looks like that vow was broken, resulting in data gaps on methane leaks — another example of how behind-closed-doors corporate influence can hinder climate action. 
Photo of a hand in the soil, picking up a fruit off the ground.

The Narwhal is hiring

We’re hiring an HR generalist!

Are you an organizational genius looking to support a team of 20 people (and counting) and develop a great employee culture? Come work with our director of operations and impact on a range of people-management and policy-creation initiatives — and bring your own unique spin on the role with you!

Spread the word around and check out the details here. We encourage applications from communities traditionally underrepresented in this field. The deadline to apply is July 18.

This week in The Narwhal

Photo of Winnipeg sign in front of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights
Winnipeg has a shiny new plan to get to net-zero emissions. Here’s what you need to know
By Julia-Simone Rutgers
In order to decarbonize by 2050, Manitoba’s capital needs to make big changes. A brand new roadmap lays out the path — now it’s up to the city to see it through.

Meet Francesca Fionda, The Narwhal’s new mining reporter
By Lindsay Sample


What we’re reading

A Community’s Quest to Document Every Species on Their Island Home
Calgary averts flooding from latest storm, but experts say city remains vulnerable
You and your friends connecting with the natural world after reading our newsletter. Tell them to sign up for it — and go out for a sunny park collab.
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The Narwhal’s Prairies bureau is here to bring you stories on energy and the environment you won’t find anywhere else. Stay tapped in by signing up for a weekly dose of our ad‑free, independent journalism.