2018 is a big year for Ottawa. In October, we will elect a new city council. That means we have the opportunity to elect a city council and Mayor who prioritize a green, healthy and liveable Ottawa for the next four years.
This municipal election, Ecology Ottawa will continue to raise awareness of local environmental priorities among both voters and candidates, inform Ottawa residents of their candidates’ environmental stands, promote environmental leadership and get out the vote for a greener council.
Find out who your candidates are using the map below. The map will also be updated with candidates’ response to our survey when they become available.
Through extensive community surveys and consultation with our volunteer group, Ecology Ottawa has issued a list of sixteen survey questions covering four main issues: climate change action (Renewable City), building safe and healthy streets (Active City), protecting Ottawa’s greenspace and watersheds (Living City) and waste management.
- Over the last term of council, initiatives to address climate change have been delayed, under-staffed and under-financed. It’s even unclear whether city-wide emissions have been rising or falling over the past six years. Meanwhile, some spending on city infrastructure (e.g., road expansions) is impeding or negating progress from climate investments made under the environment portfolio. At the federal level, the government has mandated a new climate lens assessment for its infrastructure funding program, Investing in Canada.
If elected, will you make climate action a Term of Council Priority, increase funding and staffing commitments commensurate with this prioritization, and mandate a climate lens for the City’s assessment for all infrastructure investments?
- The City of Ottawa reports on community-wide climate emissions once every four years through the Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan. This infrequent reporting makes tracking progress toward our climate goals very difficult, and is far behind the standard set by leading cities such as Montreal.
If elected, will you commit to increasing the frequency of the City’s community-wide emissions reporting to at least once per year?
- Climate change is accelerating, and cities around the world are rushing to adapt to the impacts of severe weather, flooding and invasive species. The City of Ottawa has committed to developing a Climate Adaptation Plan but hasn’t yet delivered.
If elected, will you commit to ensuring the release and initial implementation of a Climate Adaptation Plan within the next term of council?
- Development of Ottawa’s next Official Plan will begin in January 2019 and conclude during the next term of council. The Official Plan sets the ground rules that can make it easier or virtually impossible for cities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions—from transportation patterns and sprawl, to housing densities and unit sizes, to options for local renewable energy production, to the services, amenities, and greenspaces residents can access within walking distance. Official Plans developed with climate change in mind deliver powerful benefits that make neighbourhoods healthier, safer, and more liveable.
If elected, will you support and work for a revised Official Plan that makes low-carbon development a top priority, in a way that delivers healthier, safer, more liveable neighbourhoods for your constituents?
- Evidence from numerous studies of “induced demand” shows that widening highways and building new roads does nothing to alleviate traffic congestion. Instead, new roads and new lanes are quickly filled up with cars. Congestion is only relieved through investment in alternative forms of travel – by bike, by foot and by public transit.
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 your ward (for council candidates) / city-wide (for mayoral candidates)?
- Upon completion, the City of Ottawa’s light rail transit (LRT) network will bring 70% of the population to within five kilometres of a light rail station. It will be easier than ever for Ottawans to travel to and from their target destinations using sustainable transportation options, but only if the City prioritizes shared mobility services and pedestrian, cycling and transit connectivity near transit hubs.
Currently, the City of Ottawa only plans for connectivity within 600 metres of transit hubs. If elected, will you commit to widening this connectivity planning radius to five kilometres?
- The City of Ottawa adopted a complete streets policy in 2013 and an implementation plan in 2015. Now, all new roads must be built to be accessible to all ages, users and abilities – including pedestrians, cyclists and transit users – rather than just car drivers. However, evidence shows that the policy alone is not sufficient to create complete streets. Councillor leadership is vital to ensure streets are as “complete” as possible and follow through on priority pedestrian and cycling projects identified in the Transportation Master Plan.
If elected, will you commit to ensuring that complete streets and priority pedestrian and cycling projects are built in your ward (for council candidates) / city-wide (for mayoral candidates)?
- Between 2010 and 2014, 148 people died on Ottawa’s streets. These deaths were entirely avoidable – they were a by product of the way we have designed our streets. Toronto and Edmonton have embraced to a “Vision Zero” approach to road design, that considers all traffic deaths and serious injuries preventable. A Vision Zero policy involves design changes (i.e. reducing speeds and separating road users), funding for these changes and public reporting on progress.
- In 2017, the City of Ottawa adopted a strong Urban Forest Management Plan designed to safeguard and strengthen Ottawa’s tree canopy. The plan contains a 20-year action plan that requires sustained attention and investment.
If elected, will you commit to fully implementing and fully funding the Urban Forest Management Plan?
- Flooding and severe weather events are happening in Ottawa more frequently than in the past. It’s more important than ever that the City adapt to climate change by systematically scaling up development of green infrastructure – living and built systems designed to slow down, soak up and filter rainwater, such as trees, rain gardens and permeable pavements. The City has the policy tools to do this, but remains at the pilot phase and has not moved to wide-scale implementation.
If elected, will you work to ensure that all street resurfacing and new road construction integrate green infrastructure wherever possible?
- Urban greenspace is a precious commodity. Yet sprawling development patterns, infill developments, and road widenings regularly threaten our trees, greenspace and biodiversity.
If elected, will you commit to prioritizing greenspace preservation as part of the planning process?
- Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is proposing a permanent radioactive waste facility alongside the Ottawa River, upstream from Ottawa. Mayors of over 100 Quebec municipalities have banded together to oppose this proposal, citing a serious risk to drinking water from the Ottawa River.
- In March 2018, City Council changed its contract with Orgaworld to allow dog waste and other organics to be placed in green bins using non-compostable plastic bag liners. There’s no evidence that allowing plastics will encourage more people to compost. But the new rules will produce a new stream of unnecessary plastic waste that will complicate the disposal process and deliver lower-quality compost.
If elected, will you support rescinding the decision to allow non-compostable plastic bag liners and dog waste in the green bin program?
- Ottawa’s 44% waste recycling rate is the lowest of all major cities in Ontario, well below leading municipalities like York Region at 65%, Halton Region at 56%, and Toronto at 51%. That’s partly because Ottawa only spends 50¢ per household per year to promote the program and educate residents.
If elected, will you support tripling the level of funding for promotion and education for waste prevention, recycling and green bin programs to at least $1.50 per household per year, a level closer to the average for large municipalities in Ontario?
- Ottawa’s 2011 waste management plan is out of date and irrelevant. The City has made no effort to update the plan, though the poor performance of its recycling and green bin programs falls far short of the 65% waste diversion rate in York Region, the leading municipality in the province.
How you can help
We need your help to mobilize voters and engage candidates across the city. Check out our Volunteer Toolkit to find out how you can help.
- Volunteer with us! We need help canvassing, phone banking, entering data and engaging candidates. To sign up, email Dana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Engage your local candidates. Call, write or email your candidates about Ecology Ottawa’s all-candidates’ survey, and talk to them about local environmental issues in your ward. You can view their responses (page updated weekly) here.
- Make a donation to our campaign. This campaign is fuelled purely by the support from Ottawa residents like you. Whether it’s a one-time or monthly contribution, your donation will help make Ottawa the green capital of Canada. Donate today!
- Stay updated on the campaign via social media – follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.