In the run-up to the election Ecology Ottawa asked all candidates a series of questions on important environmental issues.
Here’s how Rick Chiarelli 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 – Over the term we have already committed significantly larger percentages of our transit budgets to projects designed for non-car use. They are designed to make travel easier for all commuters, including motorists. When bus rapid transit is introduced to Baseline Road, commutes will be easier for all. Having said that, we will still need to spend on roads because, even in a best case scenario, we will still have many cars on the road.
Q: If elected, will you work to ensure that all new roads and road renewal projects integrate Complete Streets principles?
A: NO – Since I have to choose yes or no, I have to pick no. The reason is that I will judge these on a case by case basis. So far, I have been able to support most, if not all, such proposals but I have also assured residents that these are on a test basis. So, to remain faithful to those commitments, we need to assess the analysis and numbers once they come back to us from these projects
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 – I would support speeding up KEY STRATEGIC PIECES of the plan, not a blanket approach. For example, if speeding up the introduction of separate bike lanes through the Bells Corners strip will suddenly complete a full connection from Kanata to the downtown core, this makes huge sense for all – even for car drivers who will see less traffic as a result.
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?
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 – I have supported this from the beginning and, as representative of one of the wards with the biggest sewer separation issues, I began working with similarly situated Councillors prior to 2006 to move this forward.
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?
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 – I cannot commit to a specific number (3%) until I have a clear indication as to what the collateral impacts will be. Similarly, I am not against it either. But I agree with the goal of conservation – I am simply not sure of the specific number.
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 – Obviously a lot of questions remain on how this can be implemented (such as whether the City and partners own enough land to make this happen, the size of plantings – seeds? multi-caliper trees? – hence cost etc) but we need to work through the obstacles to replace as much of the tree canopy as possible.
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?
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: NO – I do not believe this lies within our municipal jurisdiction, but I would like to see one conducted intra vires the correct government/agency.
Q: Would you oppose the Energy East Pipeline if it was demonstrated that it threatened the health of Ottawa’s water, climate and communities?
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: NO – We elect the national government to deal with this. We should monitor how they do it and urge them to be diligent on matters we identify as important to the city but again, they have the responsibility to act in our interests.