In the run-up to the election Ecology Ottawa asked all candidates a series of questions on important environmental issues.
Here’s how Jeff Leiper answered.
Many Ottawa streets are dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians and too many neighbourhoods lack affordable and convenient public transportation options. Badly designed streets discourage active and healthy lifestyles and limit transportation choices. In 2013, City Council adopted a Complete Streets policy that will put more emphasis on designing streets for all ages, abilities and users (pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users, as well as cars).
Q: 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?
A: YES – I am a lifelong transit user and cyclist, and have never driven to work as a primary means of commuting. I cycle to work every day, and understand the frustrations of cyclists at the lack of safe infrastructure. If elected, my commitment is to make real the City’s policies with respect to the transportation hierarchy in the Transportation Master Plan. Safe infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists must be implemented on major routes more rapidly, not only as a by-product of road reconstruction.
Q: If elected, will you work to ensure that all new roads and road renewal projects integrate Complete Streets principles?
A: YES – I am fully supportive of the City’s policy to implement complete streets as part of road renewals and new roads. If elected, I will work to implement streets that more completely embrace European-style complete street principles (“woonerfs”). It is also vital that these connect to a usable network, and not produce a set of complete street fragments that just dump cyclists and pedestrians into unsafe environments where they end
Q: 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?
A: YES – Cycling infrastructure funding increases are a good start. Now, the strict link between street renewals and complete streets needs to be relaxed. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has noted that current federal and provincial transfers are ad hoc. I am committed, if elected, to working independently and with Council colleagues, to address the need for greater, long-term, stable funding from provincial and federal revenues for sustainable transportation.
About 75 percent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions come from activities that occur in cities, and municipalities have direct or indirect control over about half of these emissions. In 2014 the City of Ottawa adopted a new Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan.
Q: 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?
Q: 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?
Q: 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?
A: YES – I am committed to achieving at least the current target for GHG reductions, and consider that it is too modest a goal in light of the reductions urged by climate change scientists. I will work to restore a corporate target for GHG reductions in areas that are directly controlled by the City (http://jeffleiper.ca/content/two-big-problems-new-city-ottawa-climate-change-plan-and-how-fix-them). I also want to see the City report to the public each year on GHG reductions achieved by the City.
Clean Water and Healthy Watersheds:
Every time it rains, a cocktail of contaminants (including bacteria, chemicals, fuels and heavy metals) washes off our streets and runs straight into our rivers and streams via the underground storm-sewer system. Ecology Ottawa wants the City of Ottawa to follow-through on its commitment to develop a Water Environment Strategy that improves stormwater management, invests in green infrastructure, reduces flooding, protects our streams, and makes it safer to swim and fish in our rivers.
Q: 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?
A: YES – We must conserve Ottawa’s rivers as a resource for future generations. My commitment, if elected, is to prioritize municipal spending to fund infrastructure to protect our waterways and to push the City continue to work with the Province to achieve this goal. As far back as 2003, I was a leader in the successful campaign to eliminate the Bayview Yards snow dump that was exacerbating Ottawa River pollution (http://ottawariverkeeper.ca/news/snow_dump_is_obvious_waste_of_prime_land/).
Q: The April 2014 Ontario Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) instructs planning authorities to promote green infrastructure measures (such as parklands, stormwater 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?
A: YES – I am committed to protecting green space (http://jeffleiper.ca/content/western-light-rail-going-rails-kitchissippi) and urban forests (http://jeffleiper.ca/content/concrete-steps-protect-our-urban-forests). I will vote to protect watersheds and preserve natural environments. I am committed to maintaining permeable surfaces when infill and new development occurs. I will use regulatory tools to require green building when possible and otherwise encourage it through incentives.
Q: The production of clean water for public consumption has been falling over the past decade in Ottawa (ie., 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?
A: YES – Public education, rebates for high volume water users to implement water efficiency measures, and regulatory measures such as water restrictions have served to reduce the overall and maximum day production of water. If elected, I will work to reduce per capita and overall water consumption with measures that continue to reduce system leakage, continuing public education measures, as well as regulatory measures where needed.
Healthy Urban Trees:
Q: 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 150 birthday celebration in 2017. If elected, will you support and prioritize investments towards this goal?
A: YES – A major tree-planting initiative is an investment in our future air, water and soil quality. The City of Ottawa should help fund such an initiative. It also has an important role to play in providing leadership in a broader fundraising initiative. I will support maximizing the trees required as part of landscaping in new developments and using funds from new development, such as cash-in-lieu of parkland and Section 37 funds, for trees.
Q: 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?
A: YES – The urban forest is a key part of maintaining the sustainability and livability of Ottawa. We need stronger policies that lead to increased tree planting and preventing the loss of mature trees, which is an increasing threat both from diseases and development pressures. Part of this must be measuring the effectiveness of the current Urban Tree Conservation Bylaw, and strengthening it where it falls short.
Proposed Oil Pipeline Threatens Ottawa Water and Communities:
TransCanada wants to move more than a million barrels a day of tar sands oil through the City of Ottawa and across the World Heritage Rideau River on its way to export terminals in eastern Canada. The proposed “Energy East” pipeline puts communities and waterways in danger all along the pipeline route.
Q: 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?
A: YES – An independent risk assessment of the proposed pipeline is required, the costs of which should be borne by the proponent. There are enough pipeline accidents in Canada that I do not believe it should traverse our city. The risks involved with other means of transport, such as by rail, must also be examined.
Q: Would you oppose the Energy East Pipeline if it was demonstrated that it threatened the health of Ottawa’s water, climate and communities?
A: YES – I will oppose anything that is demonstrated to threaten the health of Ottawa water, climate, and communities, but I hope that any Councillor would do the same. More specifically, I will work to ensure that we have access to the necessary information to determine whether there is a significant risk, which requires that Council understand the issues and ensure that City staff protect our interests.
Q: 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?
A: YES – As with multiple issues, if elected I am committed to working with my Council colleagues to more forcefully advocate for residents’ interests. It is certainly a legitimate issue for Council to address. The City should require that any environmental risk assessment be thorough and transparent and that the safety of Ottawa residents and our environment are not compromised. The City should oppose any plan that poses a risk at the National Energy Board.