Former Toronto mayor calls for buildings investment

David Miller also backed calls to expand Edinburgh's trams. Picture: Contributed
David Miller also backed calls to expand Edinburgh's trams. Picture: Contributed
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COMPANIES sitting on cash piles should use their money to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings, according to the former mayor of Toronto.

Speaking after his keynote address at yesterday’s Scottish Council for Development & Industry (SCDI) forum in Edinburgh, David Miller said that businesses were not receiving the returns they were used to on their cash. So he called on firms to invest the money in their buildings, which he claimed would give them a return on their investment within five-to-ten years through cuts to their energy bills.

Miller told The Scotsman: “In Toronto, we estimated that, by working on 1,000 buildings, we could create 30,000 jobs and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent, which would make a big difference.”

He said retro-fitting buildings was labour intensive and so was good for job creation, and that Toronto had introduced schemes to help the long-term unemployed to fill such posts.

Miller also urged Edinburgh City Council to press ahead with the construction of further tram lines in the city to create a network of routes, which he said would lead to the maximum, economic, environmental and social-inclusion benefits.

“The lessons we learned in Toronto is that you need a network of light-rail routes to get the benefits,” Miller said. “Once the first tram line in Edinburgh has bedded in and people are happy with it, then they should build other lines. It can help to stop urban sprawl.”

Miller served as mayor of Toronto from 2003 to 2010 and is now an adviser to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank. He is also a counsel with Canadian law firm Aird & Berlis.