Environment Committee to Discuss Bold New Vision (or Total waste of Taxpayers’ Money)

City Council to decide the fate of “Choosing Our Future”
For more information, contact Graham Saul, Chair of Ecology Ottawa, at 613-558-3368

Feb. 21, 2012 (Ottawa) — The City of Ottawa’s Environment Committee is set to discuss three plans today that fall under the heading of Choosing our Future. These plans are the result of a four-year planning process and, if fully embraced, they would save Ottawa residents billions of dollars a year in energy costs, increase support for local farmers, help protect our parks and rivers, promote high-tech businesses, and build a world class public transportation system, among many other things. However, the staff report to be approved at Committee today does not commit the city to do much more than “receive” the plans.

“Council should be congratulated for coming up with a plan that will save residents money, promote local business, and protect the environment, but it is still not clear if they intend to follow-through with the plans,” said Graham Saul, Chair of Ecology Ottawa, who will be making a public intervention at the Environment Committee meeting today. “The Choosing Our Future reports will be remembered as a bold new vision for a sustainable and healthy Ottawa, or a colossal waste of taxpayer resources, it’s up to Council to decide.”

The plans propose measures that would, among many other things, help: build complete neighbourhoods and communities; retrofit the suburbs; reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote public transportation and electric vehicles; encourage high performance buildings and renewable energy; protect and restore green and natural systems; protect the quality of our water; attract new businesses at the leading edge of sustainability; help reduce waste and increase recycling; and support local food and agriculture.

The staff report to Environment Committee states that the plans can be used to guide the soon to be initiated refreshes of the Official Plan, Transportation Master Plan, and Infrastructure Plan, among others. The three plans also identify examples of actions and catalyst projects that could be taken but, with a couple exceptions, there is as yet no indication of whether or not the Environment Committee intends to proceed with the implementation of these proposed measures.

“This is an opportunity for Council to move forward with a vision that people across the city can rally around and that will make us proud to call Ottawa home,” said Saul. “The city spent four years and presumably millions of dollars consulting people and coming up with these plans, they need to make it count or it will just feed the cynicism that surrounds these kinds of initiatives. Ecology Ottawa is going into the meeting with two questions: How are you going to move forward, and how can we help?”

Ecology Ottawa is a grassroots environmental organization that is working to promote environmental leadership in the City of Ottawa. We have more than 5,000 supporters across the city and over 400 volunteers.

For more information, contact Graham Saul, Chair of Ecology Ottawa, at 613-558-3368.

Background:

This afternoon, the Environment Committee is set to receive the final results of Choosing our Future, an initiative of the City of Ottawa, in partnership with the City of Gatineau and National Capital Commission, to guide Canada’s Capital Region towards a more liveable and prosperous future. The initiative includes three long-range plans that have been created as the culmination of the initiative. They are as follows: A Plan for Sustainability and Resilience Plan in Canada’s Capital RegionAn Energy and Emissions Plan for Canada’s Capital Region, and A Risk Prevention and Mitigation Plan for the City of Ottawa.

These plans are the outcome of a five-step process beginning in 2008 that included: the commission of a series of papers, and public forums; the establishment of advisory groups and preparation of baseline analyses; extensive modelling to explore the implications of some of the strategies; the production of a series of discussion papers and a series of workshops to discuss them; the production of the final plans. Ecology Ottawa does not know what the full cost of this process was but it presumably ran into the millions.

You can view the staff report to Council here:  HTTP://OTTAWA.CA/CALENDAR/OTTAWA/CITYCOUNCIL/EC/2012/02-21/03-ACS2012-ICS-CSS-0005%20FEB%202012.HTM

Links to the extensive supporting documentation can be found at the bottom of the staff report. The documents include:

  • Energy and Emissions Plan (78 pages – most important document)
  • Sustainability and Resilience Plan (120 pages – parent document)
  • Risk Prevention and Mitigation Plan (50 pages)
  • 2011 Sustainability Baseline (31 pages)
  • Agenda item: Choosing Our Future – Long Term Plans (city website – summary)
  • Choosing our Future End-State Goals (1 page graphic)

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Author:Ecology Ottawa

Volunteer driven local group dedicated to making Ottawa the green capital of Canada

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