March 25, 2013 (Ottawa): In response to Saturday’s unprecedented Greenhouse Gas Roundtable at Ottawa’s City Hall, Ecology Ottawa is releasing the following statement from its Executive Director, Graham Saul:
“The Mayor has announced that he wants a renewed Climate Change Plan for the City of Ottawa within a year and that is the kind of leadership that we need. Saturday’s climate change roundtable was a huge success and now it is time for action.
“Community and business associations, health groups, local environmental organizations and individuals across the city have been calling for action on this file for months and it is great to see that the City is listening. We want to thank Councillor Holmes for spearheading the Environment Committee motion that called for the Greenhouse Gas Roundtable and Councillor McRae for launching this exciting process.
“A critical challenge moving forward is to ensure that the development of a new Climate Change Plan is closely integrated with the ongoing review of Ottawa’s Official Plan, Infrastructure Plan, Pedestrian Plan, Cycling Plan and Transportation Plan.
“Most Canadians live in cities, so it is not surprising that most of the greenhouse gas emissions that Canada produces are associated with activities that occur in Canadian municipalities. Every level of government has a responsibility to do its fair share to help us break our dependence on oil, coal and gas. While the federal government is headed in the wrong direction, it is great to see a renewed commitment from our municipal leaders.
“We could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in the City of Ottawa if we stopped wasting so much energy. Most of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas pollution comes from how we heat, cool and electrify our homes and buildings. By conserving energy, improving energy efficiency and accelerating the transition towards renewable energy we can save money and fight climate change at the same time. In recent months, City Hall has said that it wants to find a way to promote both rapid and appropriate intensification, to explore opportunities to encourage green building practices, and to look for ways to help residents retrofit their homes.
“About a quarter of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the oil, gas and other fuels that we use in the transportation sector, and City Hall can help us move in the right direction. By encouraging compact town centres that are bustling with pedestrians and cyclists and that are connected by world class public transit, City Hall can provide residents with real transportation options. These kinds of actions, combined with a renewed commitment to protect our valuable greenspace, will help clean the air, encourage healthy lifestyles and fight climate change. The City of Ottawa’s commitment to hold the line on the urban boundary, to make unprecedented investments in public transit and to develop a Complete Streets policy are all good examples of how our municipal leaders have a role to play.
“The Greenhouse Gas Roundtable and the announcement that the City intends to renew its Climate Change Plan is a first and important step down a long path towards a more prosperous, healthy and environmentally responsible city. We look forward to working closely with the City to identify immediate actions that can be taken and to ensure that it follows through on this important commitment in a timely way.