Five Planks to Ecology Ottawa’s Priority Platform:

Ottawa 2014 Election

Make Streets Safe and Convenient

Many Ottawa streets are dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, and too many neighbourhoods lack affordable and convenient public transportation options. Badly designed streets not only discourage active lifestyles and limit transportation choices, they can increase traffic congestion and hike road maintenance costs.

The people of Ottawa deserve safe and convenient transportation choices, including practical alternatives to driving. To achieve that, especially in light of the city’s future growth, our streets must be considered as more than just conduits for cars. Streets should be accessible to all people, especially pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transit.

Recognizing the problem, in 2013 City Council endorsed a “Complete Streets” approach to ensure our city’s streets are designed to provide safe and comfortable access for people of all ages, genders and abilities. Such streets should accommodate multiple modes of travel and can include such features as on-road bike lanes, wider sidewalks, protected crossings, landscaped areas, and traffic-calming measures. Because Complete Streets must fit local needs, each one will be unique.

Building on lessons learned in other cities, the National Complete Streets Coalition has identified 10 key points for effective implementation of a Complete Streets policy. Among the most important are:

  1. Pedestrians, bicyclists and transit passengers of all ages and abilities should be considered as equals to drivers of trucks, buses and automobiles.
  2. Complete street design must take local community needs into account and balance the needs of all users.
  3. The policy should apply to both new and renewal projects, and should cover all roads.
  4. Complete streets should contribute to a comprehensive, integrated and connected network for all modes of transportation.

Ottawa’s Complete Streets policy hints at these points, without explicitly affirming them. The challenge is to turn the policy’s good intentions into action.

Over the past decade Ottawa spent 18 times as much to facilitate driving as it did on pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Future road projects should prioritize alternative modes of transportation. The decisions made by our next city council can ensure safe and convenient transportations choices for all residents of our city.

Ask the Candidates

Making streets safe and convenient for all is a key municipal issue. Ecology Ottawa would like all candidates to strongly support the city’s Complete Streets approach. If elected, they will determine the funding and priority accorded to pedestrian, cycling and mass transit infrastructure over the next four years. Ask your candidate about Complete Streets.

As part of a general survey ahead of the October municipal elections, Ecology Ottawa asked all candidates for mayor and city council to answer three questions regarding their plans for ensuring Ottawa’s streets are safe and convenient:

  1. If elected, will you commit to prioritizing pedestrian, cycling and affordable public transit infrastructure over automobile infrastructure in meeting the future growth in travel demand in the urban area?
  1. If elected, will you work to ensure that all new roads and road renewal projects integrate Complete Streets principles?
  1. The City’s new transportation master plan increases funding for cycling infrastructure but delays many investments for over 15 years. If elected, will you work to increase the overall level of investment and accelerate the pace of implementation?

Their responses will be posted on this website on September 22.

Protect Ottawa’s Trees

More than 40 million of Ottawa’s ash trees are expected to die in the next few years from a pest called the emerald ash borer. Many of the city’s other trees are in danger of damage and destruction by extreme weather, such as last winter’s ice storm, urban expansion, and old age.

Ecology Ottawa wants our city to protect the trees we have, and to embark on an ambitious plan to plant a million trees by 2017, Canada’s 150th Anniversary.

Caring for our existing trees and planting more will benefit us all. Trees reduce the amount of dust and pollution in the air and replace them with sweet fragrances and fresh oxygen. Urban trees are home to a multitude of animal species, and supply them with food, shelter, and habitat year-round. Trees help mitigate the effects of climate change, contribute to water retention and add beauty to our urban landscape. Plus, they give us food, shade, recreation, and noise barriers.

Small wonder trees are considered a significant and integral component of our urban ecology. The City of Ottawa is well on its way to protecting this valuable natural resource. In 2014 City Council allocated $16 million to the forestry budget, plus an additional $1.18 million in operating funds to cover initiatives such as tree planting programs, emerald ash borer management, and improved maintenance standards. The city is treating selected ash trees, but injections of insecticide are costly and must be done every two years.

A total of $1.2 million has been set aside for tree renewal and tree replacement. What’s more, in 2014 the city announced its intention to develop a Forest Management Strategy along the lines of Toronto’s 10-year plan for its tree cover, although no timeline has been set.

Ottawa is working to become a “greener” city, with forethought and foresight. All stakeholders – residents, businesses, community groups and individuals of all ages – have a vital role to play greening our city. The city already plants about 100,000 trees each year, the Boy Scouts plant about 30,000, and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority plants thousands more.

The city should turn the tragedy of the ash borer into an opportunity to dramatically increase the scale and diversity of our tree canopy. Increasing all our efforts to achieve the goal of planting 1 million trees by 2017, Canada’s 150th Anniversary, is an ambitious, but achievable goal.

Ask the Candidates

Protecting Ottawa’s trees is a municipal issue. Ecology Ottawa would like all candidates to strongly support the city’s efforts to reverse the degradation of our trees, and to encourage the city to do much more to increase the scale and diversity of our tree cover. If elected, the candidates will determine the funding and priority accorded to protecting and planting trees over the next four years. Ask your candidate about trees.

As part of a general survey ahead of the October municipal elections, Ecology Ottawa asked all candidates for mayor and city council to answer two questions regarding their plans for protecting Ottawa’s tree cover:

    1. The Emerald Ash Borer infestation is killing millions of trees across Ottawa, including about 25 percent of the trees in the urban area. In response, organizations and individuals, including the City of Ottawa, are coming together to set the collective goal of planting a million trees in our nation’s capital as part of our contribution to Canada’s 150th birthday celebration in 2017. If elected, will you support and prioritize investments towards this goal?
    2. The City of Ottawa has announced its intention to develop a new Forest Management Strategy. If elected, will you support the development of a strong strategy and the investments necessary to realize the strategy’s goals?

Their responses will be posted on this website.

Tar Free 613

The construction of the Energy East pipeline through Ottawa would pose a serious threat to the health of Ottawa’s environment. Transporting over a hundred million litres of crude oil through our city every day risks a toxic spill into the Rideau River. It would also facilitate the reckless expansion of Alberta’s tar sands, accelerating climate change. City Council must evaluate the risks posed by the pipeline, and take all necessary actions to stop it should they find those risks unacceptable.

The company TransCanada plans to convert a 55-year old natural gas pipeline to carry up to 1.1 million barrels (130 million litres) a day of crude oil from the Alberta tar sands through Ottawa. The pipeline travels for many kilometres along the Ottawa River and crosses over the Rideau and Mississippi rivers, both of which flow into the Ottawa. The Ottawa River is the source of our drinking water.

A spill would be devastating to the environment and be extremely costly to clean up. It could potentially contaminate groundwater and drinking water for Ottawa residents. The Energy East pipeline would also facilitate expansion of the tar sands that is single-handedly undoing the progress Canada has made to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Energy East pipeline would enter the city’s boundaries near Pakenham, continue southeast, passing very close to Stittsville, where a major pumping station would be located. It would then continue southeast, crossing Route 416, and eventually leave the city’s boundaries when it passes over the Rideau River and into Kemptville.

Nearly all major pipelines have leaked at some point. In Alberta alone, there are over 700 spills every year, and the number of reported pipeline spills has been rising. The recent disaster in Lac-Mégantic highlighted the risk of shipping oil near or through neighbourhoods and sensitive ecosystems.

While oil companies claim pipelines are safer than railcars, the Energy East pipeline may result in even more toxic chemicals being transported by train, because it would require shipping vast quantities of highly volatile hydrocarbons to Alberta. These “diluents” would be needed to make the heavy bitumen liquid enough to flow through the pipeline.

Energy East would be the biggest tar sands pipeline in North America. It would allow the Alberta tar sands to increase production by nearly 50 per cent – the equivalent of adding 7 million cars to Canada’s roads. Such expansion would effectively undo the reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions achieved by shutting down Ontario’s coal plants.

Ask the Candidates

The Energy East pipeline is a municipal issue. Ecology Ottawa would like all candidates to strongly oppose the project, and, if elected, to ensure the city thoroughly evaluates the risks and speaks out at federal review panels. Ask your candidate about the pipeline.

As part of a general survey ahead of the October municipal elections, Ecology Ottawa asked all candidates for mayor and city council to answer three questions regarding their position on the Energy East pipeline proposal:

  1. Do you think the City of Ottawa should conduct a thorough and independent assessment of the risks and costs that the proposed Energy East pipeline poses to the health of Ottawa’s communities and water?
  2. Would you oppose the Energy East Pipeline if it was demonstrated that it threatened the health of Ottawa’s water, climate and communities?
  3. Should the City of Ottawa intervene in the National Energy Board review of the proposed Energy East pipeline in order to ensure that the interests of the people of Ottawa are well represented?

Their responses will be posted on this website in October.

Let’s Clean Up Ottawa’s Rivers

Every time it rains, a cocktail of contaminants (including bacteria, chemicals, fuels and heavy metals) washes off our streets, through storm sewers and into our rivers and streams. Not only are the city’s beaches often closed to swimming, the wildlife that rely on our waterways are endangered and homes are flooded.

The City of Ottawa must follow-through on its commitment to develop a Water Environment Strategy that improves storm-water management and makes it safer to swim and fish in our rivers. Such a strategy should reduce the toxins going into our rivers, ensure clean drinking water, and protect communities and streams from flooding associated with severe weather.

In March 2014, City Council’s Environment Committee voted to develop a Water Environment Strategy, and the proposed timeline suggests it will be presented in early 2015. The responsibility to ensure adoption and implementation of a rigorous strategy will fall to the newly elected city council.

The Strategy should lay out a plan to reduce the amount of storm-water that ends up in our rivers, and to ensure the water that does is properly treated first. The city should invest in infrastructure that slows down and soaks up storm-water, such as parklands, wetlands, roadside trees, urban forests, natural channels, permeable surfaces, and green roofs. Such investments will reduce overall costs, protect ecosystems and reduce damage from extreme weather events.

Water conservation is an additional key element. Between 2004 and 2013, conservation reduced the amount of drinking water we use from over 125 mega-litres (125 billion litres) per year in 2006 to 100 mega-litres in 2013. The Water Environment Strategy should build on this success and seek to further reduce usage by 3 per cent per year.

Ask the Candidates

The health of Ottawa’s rivers is a municipal issue. Ecology Ottawa would like all candidates to strongly support a Water Environment Strategy for the city. If elected, they will determine the funding and priority accorded to making our rivers healthy over the next four years. Ask your candidate about cleaning up our waterways.

As part of a general survey ahead of the October municipal elections, Ecology Ottawa asked all candidates for mayor and city council to answer three questions regarding their plans to clean up Ottawa’s waterways:

  1. The City of Ottawa is developing a Water Environment Strategy that will provide a framework for action to promote clean drinking water, reduce the toxins going into our rivers, and protect communities and streams from flooding associated with severe weather. If elected, will you support the development of a strong strategy and prioritize the investments necessary to realize the strategy’s goals?
  2. The April 2014 Ontario Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) instructs planning authorities to promote green infrastructure measures (such as parklands, storm-water systems, wetlands, street trees, urban forests, natural channels, permeable surfaces, and green roofs) in order to reduce costs, protect ecosystems and adapt to extreme weather events. If elected, will you prioritize green infrastructure in addressing the City of Ottawa’s water management needs?  
  3. The production of clean water for public consumption has been falling over the past decade in Ottawa (i.e., we are using less water). Between 2004 and 2013, the amount of clean water produced and used inside Ottawa fell from over 125,000 million litres to about 100,000 million litres (not including private wells). If elected will you commit to continuing this trend by prioritizing water conservation measures that reduce usage by 3 percent per year?

Their responses will be posted on this website in October.

Address Climate Change

The rapidly changing climate poses a dire threat to the people of Ottawa. The violent storms, flooding and extreme temperatures we have experienced in recent years are a sign of the future. The city must prepare for the changes to come, and do its part to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change.

The city took a step forward in 2014 by approving an Air Quality and Climate Change Plan. The plan now needs funding and due diligence to make it effective.

Ottawa’s climate change plan sets a very modest target for reducing the city’s greenhouse-gas emissions: 20 per cent per capita from 2012 levels by the year 2024. Because the city’s population is expected to grow substantially, the reduction in actual tonnage of greenhouse-gas emissions envisioned would be in the neighbourhood of 12 per cent.

By comparison, Vancouver set a 10-year target of 33 per cent of actual tonnage. Calgary’s target is 20 per cent of actual tonnage over eight years. The province of Ontario pledged to reduce emissions by 20 per cent of actual tonnage by 2020.

Almost half of the greenhouse gasses produced in Ottawa come from buildings (heating, air conditioning and lighting); an additional 40 per cent comes from transportation. Through building permits, zoning rules, and road management, the city can play a major role encouraging emissions reductions. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities says about half of greenhouse gas emissions in Canadian cities fall under the jurisdiction of municipalities.

According to Ottawa’s plan, over the next ten years the city will:

  • Implement cost-effective improvements across city operations.

  • Provide people with the information and tools they need to make informed decisions.

  • Assist those who want to make their homes, businesses, and investment properties more energy-efficient and resilient.

  • Provide direction and certainty to the design and construction industry for the creation of sustainable urban spaces and structures.

  • Develop a stewardship program to manage and secure land to serve as natural water reservoirs, windbreaks, air filters, and carbon sinks.

  • The actions identified in the plan are largely confined to the first of these five areas.

The initial rigour and candour of the 2014 Clean Air and Climate Change Management Plan is laudable, as well as the apparent political will. But new initiatives will be essential for the plan to work. Residents will need help to reduce emissions and adapt, and the city will need to move quickly on its plans for building standards and land stewardship. It’s time for new thinking and concrete commitments.

Ask the Candidates

Climate change is a municipal issue. Ecology Ottawa would like all candidates to strongly support the city’s new climate change plan. If elected, they will determine the funding and priority accorded to climate change over the next four years. Ask your candidate about climate change.

As part of a general survey ahead of the October municipal elections, Ecology Ottawa asked all candidates for mayor and city council to answer three questions regarding their plans for how Ottawa can address climate change:

  1. Do you agree that human-induced climate change is an urgent issue and all levels of government have a role to play in helping to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions?

  2. If elected, will you push for the full implementation of the City of Ottawa’s Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan, including items identified in the plan for the 2015 budget?

  3. The Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan establishes the modest goal of reducing Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent per capita by 2024, but leaves open a lot of space for new initiatives to emerge in the coming years. If elected, will you push for actions aimed at surpassing the current goal?

Their responses will be posted on this website on September 22.

Categories: Campaign

Author:Ecology Ottawa

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

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