However, that potential is already being threatened.
Even though the City’s own climate plan, approved by Council just back in May 2014 “recommended for consideration in the 2015 budget”
- Convert Ottawa’s street lighting system to LED by 2020.
- Work with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), Electrical Safety Authority, Energy Ottawa and/or others to ensure FIT installations at City facilities can be used as a back-up energy supply.
- Implement Vehicle Telematics for Municipal Fleet.
- Identify and prioritize land for protection, acquisition, and naturalization, taking climate change into consideration.
- Complete the Forest Management Strategy that identifies ways to increase tree cover and maintain the health of this City asset.
Only the last of these five made it into the budget to be approved by full City Council on March 11.
You can help.
The city budget sets aside $37 million for “priority initiatives.” Over the next two or three months City Councillors will decide what these priorities are. The promised climate change initiatives will be battling against tourism, small business, recreational services, etc. for a share of those dollars. If it isn’t declared an official priority, climate change actions will be left with no funding at all..
Please phone or write your City Councillor and insist that funding for new initiatives on climate change must make it into their priorities. They must vigorously defend investment in climate action as city hall negotiates its “term of council priorities” expected in May.
By telling your City Councillor that these issues are a priority for you they will be better able to make them a priority for City Hall and secure funding to get them done.
The City‘s climate plan already had a long list of defined actions beyond the five that didn’t all get into the budget. More, the climate plan promised not-yet-defined initiatives hopefully to be funded as council priorities. So the fact that only one of the five planned actions is covered in the budget means that even the baby steps of beginning to roll out the climate plan have been thrown into question. This isn’t a good omen for the real heavy lifting that needs to be done in fully fleshing out the climate plan.
There is good news. The budget does include funding for Ottawa’s urban forest plus a water environment strategy; two other issues Ecology Ottawa is working on. Also, David Chernushenko is now the Chair of Environment Committee and he is clearly committed to action on climate change. That’s consistent with the Mayor’s office also having indicated their hope to ensure additional funding for climate change.
So now – as City Council decides on its priorities – now is the time to tell your Councillor that action on climate change is important; it must be a council priority.
Please phone or write them today.