November 4, 2020
(OTTAWA) – Today, Mayor Jim Watson presented the City of Ottawa’s draft 2021 budget at city council. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the draft budget stays the course on a number of items affecting Ottawa’s environment. It is equally notable how the budget fails to follow through on major climate commitments, while continuing to spend tens of millions of dollars on roads and road-related projects.
“Ottawa has declared a climate emergency, but this draft budget fails to put the City’s money where its mouth is on climate action,” said Robb Barnes, Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa. “Over the next month, before a final budget is approved, we need Ottawans to demand more climate leadership from the mayor and councillors.”
The draft budget fails to invest ambitiously in Energy Evolution, the City of Ottawa’s landmark renewable energy strategy, and continues the city’s longstanding trend of paying for road and highway expansions that do nothing to relieve congestion. Similar to previous years, the draft 2021 budget earmarks $57 million to fund road growth projects. Additional road-related expenses include asphalt repair ($9.9 million), road resurfacing ($45 million) and road infrastructure renewal ($28 million). While the City has pledged $2.6 million for Energy Evolution, this is less than one per cent of the required annual spending for the program, earmarked at $621 million per year. Council unanimously adopted Energy Evolution and its ambitious spending plan in October 2020.
“This is not a climate emergency budget,” said Mr. Barnes. “This is a sprawl budget and a climate inaction budget. The mayor and council need to recognize that we can’t afford the status quo, and that we can build a better city while tackling the climate crisis head-on.”
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