Generation Climate: Youth Climate Ambassadors Kick-Off Event!

Button_French version

 

 

 

Ecology Ottawa’s Youth Climate Ambassadors program kicks off on March 27th at 7:00pm with “Generation Climate” at the Shaw Centre! Join us for a full evening of connection, mobilization, snacks, and inspiring individuals speaking to their experiences combating climate change in Ottawa as young people.

We hope that folks of all ages will leave the event feeling empowered to take action, and take on climate change in our city.

 

Click here to register for Generation Climate: Youth Climate Ambassadors Event Launch!

 

Apply to be a Youth Climate Ambassador today!

generation climate po

Draft budget 2019 – What does it mean for Ottawa’s environment?

On Wednesday, February 6 Mayor Jim Watson presented a draft city budget for 2019.

This budget has implications for all three of Ecology Ottawa’s program areas:

  • Living City, our program to protect and enhance Ottawa’s trees, water and green space;
  • Renewable City, our program on climate change and energy policy; and
  • Active City, our program on sustainable transportation.

Below is a summary of key line items impacting each program area, followed by an assessment. Note that these assessments are preliminary. Over the next few weeks, Ecology Ottawa staff and volunteers will be asking questions to councillors and city staff in order to clarify the points below. We will publish a final assessment of the budget once the final version is adopted on March 6.

In the area of Living City, draft budget 2019 includes:

  • $1.5 million to plant 500,000 trees. This is a standard line item that we’ve seen in past budgets. We are happy to see the city continue to invest in forest cover.
  • No money earmarked for the expansion of green infrastructure. We have been asking for the city to move beyond the pilot phase and roll out green infrastructure at scale. We could not identify a stand-alone item on green infrastructure in the city budget.
  • Unanswered questions regarding funding of Urban Forest Management Plan. The City has worked hard to develop a comprehensive Urban Forest Management Plan. We applauded the City for its ambitious and well-designed plan. However, this plan requires funding to deliver on its action items. We could not identify funding in the budget.
  • Unanswered questions regarding funding regarding the purchase of natural areas. In past years, the city has spent over $800,000 on the purchase of natural areas for preservation. We could not identify a stand-alone item on natural areas protection in this year’s budget.

In the area of Renewable City, draft budget 2019 includes:

  • $150,000 for Energy Evolution. This is below last year’s total of $500,000. City documentation indicates that this money is going towards planning and implementation for Energy Evolution. It is unclear whether this amount is sufficient to implement all of the phase 1 action items as well to initiate key items from phase 2.
  • No mention of electric vehicle infrastructure investments. While we would expect electric vehicle infrastructure to be captured across a number of line items, we see no dedicated city funds intended to support and reinforce the growing update of electric vehicles city-wide.
  • No mention of a climate resilience plan. We remain optimistic that this city council will develop and implement a climate resilience plan. Unfortunately, there is no funding for work to be undertaken towards this plan in 2019.
  • $2 million increase to city energy efficiency and conservation retrofits and updating building automation systems at City-owned facilities. This is excellent news, and brings the total for the city’s investment in this area up to $3 million in 2019. These projects are meaningful investments that will in many cases save the city money.  
  • Unclear status of “Green Fleetline item. In past budgets, the city devoted $500,000 to converting its fleet to lower- or zero-emissions. We were unable to identify the “green fleet” line item for the 2019 budget, and are concerned that this program has been cancelled.

In the area of Active City, draft budget 2019 includes:

  • Almost $90 million to “enhance transit operations.” This money is mostly going towards the replacement of old buses and refurbishment of existing buses. A smaller portion ($7.8 million) will go towards the purchase of 12 new buses and expanded bus service. We are pleased to see investment in transit. However, Ottawa must be much more ambitious in its transit spending if it seeks to drastically curb emissions from transportation. Further, it is unclear whether the 12 new buses will be electric.
  • Continuing EquiPass transit fare program for low-income residents. We are pleased to see the city continue to invest in this area.
  • Rate increase for EquiPass, adult monthly pass and single-ride fares. This budget will see the EquiPass increase by 2.6%, the adult monthly pass increase by 2.6% and single-ride fares increase by 2.9%. These rate increases are well above the rate of inflation (approx. 1.7%). This is disappointing; the city should be freezing or reducing fares rather than raising them.
  • Parking rates remain frozen. While transit rates continue to increase, on-street and off-street hourly parking rates remain flat in this year’s budget. Facilitating the use of vehicles continues to inhibit the city’s progress on encouraging the shift to more sustainable modes of transportation.
  • $7.1 million for the Cycling and Pedestrian Plans. This is a steep decline relative to average annual funding over the last term of council. Over the 2015-2018 period, for example, the City spent an average of over $20 million per year in this area.
  • $22.9 million to widen Strandherd Dr. Ottawa’s continued expansion of its road network creates serious challenges for future budgets, in terms of maintenance, clearing, and managing induced demand from additional vehicles. There is no evidence that widening roads alleviates congestion. It is unclear as to the city’s rationale for this massive investment, and it is clear that the money could be better used elsewhere (e.g., transit, pedestrian infrastructure and/or cycling infrastructure). 
  • $1.6 million committed to the Temporary Traffic Calming Measure Program, with each councillor receiving $50,000 for initiatives in their respective wards. This is a slight increase from the previous councillor allocation of $40,000. This is a positive change.
  • $500,000 in the Pedestrian Crossover Program. We are pleased to see the city investing in this area. This appears to be a new standalone line item.
  • Vision Zero. We remain optimistic that this city council will develop and implement a Vision Zero strategy to eliminate death and severe injury on Ottawa’s streets. While there is no specific line item for this policy initiative, it could be implemented through other line items. We will seek to clarify this.

For Immediate Release: Watson asleep at the wheel while other cities rush to show climate leadership

Budget is business-as-usual at a crisis moment that demands anything but

February 6, 2019

(Ottawa) – Today, Jim Watson presented the draft 2019 City of Ottawa budget. The most notable aspect of this budget is what it did not say. In Jim Watson’s remarks, there was no mention of the climate crisis, or even climate change more generally. This comes at a time when the United Nations warns us we have 11 years left to avoid global climate catastrophe, and when cities like Halifax and Vancouver are declaring climate emergencies and modifying budgets and policies accordingly.

“Halifax and Vancouver are leading the way by calling the climate crisis what it is – an emergency – and are using policies and funds to respond accordingly,” said Robb Barnes, executive director of Ecology Ottawa. “Ottawa’s draft budget 2019 is a business-as-usual document at a crisis moment that demands anything but.”

While “resilience” was one of the themes of the budget stated by Watson at the outset of the presentation, there was no indication that the City of Ottawa has a clear resilience strategy when it comes to climate change. Even as the city directed more money to areas such as affordable housing, the implications of climate change impacts on Ottawans – especially the most vulnerable – remain an unanswered question.    

“The mayor should be commended for seeking to make Ottawa a more caring city, and for making some investments in this area” said Mr. Barnes. “But we do a profound disservice to all Ottawa residents if we fail to address and respond to the impacts of climate change.”

– 30 – 

For more information: 

Robb Barnes
Executive Director
Ecology Ottawa
robb.barnes@ecologyottawa.ca
613-276-5753 (cell)
613-860-5353 (office)

Climate change a key point of discussion at today’s city council

On January 30th, City Council met for the first time in 2019. Climate change was a key issue of discussion in two debates, setting the tone for the potential of ambitious climate action.

 In what is normally a rubber-stamp procedure to approve citizen’s appointments to the various advisory boards, there was disagreement about one particular nominee for the Transit Commissioner. The City Hall Hiring Panel picked through 92 applicants for the Transit Commission for the upcoming four years, leading them to four successful citizen transit commissioners to be appointed at the January 30th council. Councillor Shawn Menard showed particular concern about one of the transit commissioners, Michael Olsen. Olsen has been said to be an anti-abortion supporter as well as a potential climate change denier. This is problematic to his position as a transit commissioner as one of the main concerns surrounding transportation is its effect on the environment and greenhouse gas emissions.

            Councillor Diane Deans raised an important question to the clerk about whether the city is allowed to ask nominees about their opinions on climate change. The clerk replied by stating that though it hasn’t been asked in the past, he does not believe it is an issue under the Charter to be asked in the future. Despite Councillor Menard’s concerns, only seven councillors voted in favour of re-evaluating Olsen’s position on the transit commission; these councilors were Cloutier, Leiper, Kavanagh, Menard, Fleury, Deans, and McKenney.

Another motion that sparked some discussion, was brought to the table by Councillor Scott Moffatt who proposed to change the Environment and Climate Protection Committee’s name to the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management, as well as to include a Climate Impact lens in reviewing all major projects, and to be included in the Mid-Term Governance Review. Councillors Deans, Brockington, Menard, Egli and McKenney discussed the importance of changing the committee name and how it affects (or does not affect) the role the committee will play throughout the term. It may seem that renaming a committee is of little importance, but some argue that it was a way to signal to the public on Council’s interest with moving forward and taking important environmental action.  Councillor Moffatt explained that with this change to the committee name, they can address the specific environmental issues the Environment Committee will be deciding on this term (stormwater and waste management), while making climate action a major issue affecting all committees and departments across City Hall.

Councillors also discussed the second half of the motion on the need for a climate impact lens and other stronger climate actions in this term of council. Councillors believed that implementing a Climate Impact Lens among all standing committees was a positive approach and a step in the right direction. Many, including councillors Fleury and McKenney, would like to see adoption of the lens earlier than the Mid-term Governance report, although staff cautioned that they would need more time.

Councillor Deans also raised the question of whether more needs to be done to tackle climate change, citing a recent unanimous vote from Vancouver and Halifax City Councils to declare climate emergency. The topic received support from Councillors Menard and McKenney, who would both like to see a similar motion coming to council in the next few months. Councillor Menard finished with his support of Councillor Moffatt saying that “climate change is the biggest threat to our city, this is a climate emergency now”.

Council decided to vote separately on the name change and the climate lens motions. The name change motion passed with 19 yays and 3 nays. The three nay votes were Deans, Brockington, and McKenney.

MATINÉE D’ENTAILLAGE À L’ÉRABLIÈRE DU MUSÉOPARC VANIER

Venez apprendre à récolter de l’eau d’érable!

C’est bientôt le temps des sucres! Le MuséoParc Vanier cherche des bénévoles pour aider a entailler ses érables. Un petit-déjeuner traditionnel de crêpes et une soupe chaude seront offerts à tous les participants.

Cette activité est gratuite et encourage la participation de tout âges.

Rendez-vous au MuséoParc Vanier (320 Avenue de Peres-Blancs)

Dès 8h30 – Samedi le 16 Fevrier 2019

Cliquez ici pour reserver votre place

Pour plus d’info: lesamisdesparcs@ecologyottawa.ca · 613-860-5353

LE CONTEUR DU PARC RICHELIEU-VANIER

En célébration du mois de la Francophonie, nous vous invitons à venir explorer le Parc Richelieu-Vanier en compagnie d’un conteur pour une avant-midi d’animation éducative en milieu plein-air. Chocolat chaud inclus! 

Où: Départ de la bibliothèque Vanier – 310 Avenue des Peres-Blancs

Quand: 10h30am

Langue: Francais

Gratuit

Cliquez ici pour réservez votre place

 

Budget 2019: A chance to invest in a greener Ottawa

The new city council has already begun crafting its first budget of the term. City Council will table a draft budget on February 6, and vote on the final version on March 6. That means from now until the end of February, Ottawa residents have the chance to provide their input to the budget process.

As cities across the world and in Canada step up to the climate challenge, Ottawa has yet to demonstrate the level of ambition or action that match the urgency and scale of this crisis. Investing in climate solutions also means building more a vibrant, liveable and healthy city where beautiful greenspace, walkable communities and thriving low-carbon economy take centre stage.

This budget will set the tone for this new term of council before City Hall decide on its Term of Council Priorities. Until March, you have the chance to let your councillor and the mayor know about your concern and priorities.

You can participate in the budget process and call on your councillor to invest in climate solutions and make Ottawa a climate leader by:

  1. Sending them an email using our quick email tool,
  2. Attend one of many councillor-led budget consultations,
  3. Join others in your ward at a meeting with your councillor to discuss the need for climate action.

What does climate leadership look like?

At Ecology Ottawa, we have laid out what climate leadership in this budget could look like. Ottawa City Council can ensure that the 2019 budget prioritizes climate change action through the following actions:

a. Funding staff and programs to accelerate initiatives to reduce Ottawa’s community greenhouse gas emissions, including Energy Evolution;
b. Accelerating Ottawa’s transition to more sustainable modes of transportation by significantly increasing funding for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, as well as public transit;
c. Dramatically reducing wasteful, environmentally damaging and costly road expansions, especially in sensitive areas such as the Greenbelt; and
d. Implementing smarter urban planning and curbing sprawl.
e. Enhancing Ottawa’s resilience to a changing climate by funding the Urban Forest Management Plan, continuing land acquisition efforts, and dramatically ramping up implementation of green infrastructure;

Let’s get light rail right

“Light rail is coming to Ottawa.”

This is something Ottawans have been hearing for years. After debates, discussions and delays, a plan for light rail transit (LRT) has taken shape: LRT will arrive in two stages, with the first scheduled to come online in April 2019 and the second arriving sometime in 2023.

The politicians tell us that LRT will be a game-changer for the city. We’ve been told that LRT will relieve congestion in our over-stretched Transitway system, dramatically curb climate emissions from transportation, and alter the very fabric of our city as dense, walkable communities are put in next to LRT hubs.

Yet for all that we’ve been told, there are often important pieces missing. For example, deadlines have been pushed back repeatedly, with council and the public only finding out on extremely short notice. Stage 1, once destined to roll out in 2017, has been pushed back repeatedly and is now destined for an April 2019 release. The implications of Stage 1’s many delays on the timing of Stage 2 remain unclear.

And then there are monitoring and inspection reports covering a wide range of economic, safety, operational and engineering items. The City of Ottawa has been highly secretive with this information, leading some local researchers to doggedly pursue answers with access to information requests in order to bring them to light.

From an environmental perspective, the challenge is clear: there remains no clear, systematic reporting regimen set up to account for, or monitor, the project’s impacts on Ottawa’s environment, whether through climate impacts, energy usage or impacts on urban form.

This is where you come in. The time has come to raise public awareness and engagement in a vibrant and ongoing discussion over the environmental outcomes of LRT. We can also have a frank public dialogue about alternative options – whether in the form of different routes or alternative approaches to design.

It’s time for an Ottawa LRT monitoring matrix – a citizen-led tool to track LRT’s interactions with Ottawa’s environment. It is critical that the LRT network incorporates the highest environmental standards into the planning of stations, routes, and surrounding development while also considering broader factors such as affordability and health and safety. At the same time, purely environmental factors do not exist in isolation; we must think holistically about what LRT means for the future of the city, and in doing so we must consider factors such as information transparency and social outcomes.

Ecology Ottawa is reaching out to individuals and organizations who are actively interested in the future of LRT, or have subject matter expertise in relevant areas to design a comprehensive monitoring matrix. The list of partners, along with a link to the matrix, will be updated on this page as time goes on.

A comprehensive monitoring matrix could include environmental considerations such as:

  • Active transportation connectivity to light rail;
  • Active transportation infrastructure at stations (e.g., bike parking);
  • Transit connectivity to light rail;
  • Access to parks and green space at or within range of stations;
  • The use of energy, including the use of renewable energy, at stations;

The matrix could also examine factors that have deep environmental implications but are not primarily environmental in nature, such as:

  • Transparency of projects;
  • Affordability of housing within range of stations;
  • Impacts of light rail on surrounding communities;
  • Impacts of light rail on local walkability and traditional active transportation connection points; and
  • Health and safety implications for light rail users.

Workshop: Green Infrastructure and Climate Resiliency

Button_French version

Join us at 6:30 pm on February 27th at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre for the second workshop in our Green Infrastructure series! At this event we’ll dig in deep to look at the ways green infrastructure better equips our cities to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We’ll do this through a series of case studies looking at a variety of different large scale green infrastructure projects which have been implemented across North America.

Refreshments will be served, and home-level adaptive tools like splash guards and downspout redirects will be available!

To register for this free event, follow this link.

Let’s make Ottawa a climate leader

Button_French version

Climate change is the challenge of our lifetimes. Jurisdictions around the world are being urged to respond to the scope and scale of this threat with bold, ambitious action. The United Nations tells us that time is short – we now have 11 years to avoid catastrophic impacts to the world’s species and ecosystems.

While climate change is a global problem, many of the solutions are local. In Canada, up to half of the country’s emissions are under the direct or indirect control of municipal governments. As Canada’s fourth largest city and national capital, Ottawa has a critically important role to play in the fight against climate change.

Ottawa City Hall has yet to wake up to the urgency of the climate crisis. We must change this. Ecology Ottawa is launching a campaign to raise the level of climate ambition at Ottawa City Hall.

There are two important opportunities over the next few months to overhaul the city’s middling approach. We need to firmly embed climate action in council’s list of overall priorities, and secure an unprecedented level of climate funding in the 2019 budget, and we need your help.

  1. Write your councillor to urge them to prioritize climate action in the upcoming 2019 budget and Term of Council Priorities process.
  2. Organize a meeting with your councillor along with others in your ward to demand climate leadership.

First, we’re asking supporters to write their councillors, asking them to take concrete action to prioritize climate change in the upcoming budget process, and the Term of Council Priorities process.

Click here to send our form letter. 

Second, we’re asking supporters to meet with their council representatives and ask for their leadership directly. We’ve prepared a Climate Welcome Package to help councillors better understand the scope of the challenge and the climate solutions at their disposal.

Click here to email us about meeting with your councillor. We’ll work to pair you with others in your ward who want to send a strong climate message to city hall.

For background on this campaign, including details on our policy asks and information on the city’s climate performance to date, click here.

What are we asking for?

In the coming weeks, we are calling on councillors and the mayor to commit to climate action in two ways: firmly embed climate action in council’s list of overall priorities, and secure an unprecedented level of climate funding in the 2019 budget.

Specifically,

1. Ottawa City Council can make climate action a major focus of the Term of Council Priorities process by ensuring commitments to climate-relevant challenges such as:

a. Reducing Ottawa’s community greenhouse gas emissions by aggressively implementing Energy Evolution and the Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan;
b. Promoting sustainable modes of transportation by increasing transit access and affordability, growing pedestrian and cycling networks and adopting Vision Zero (a plan to eliminate death and serious injuries on Ottawa’s streets); and
c. Building a climate-resilient Ottawa by implementing the Urban Forest Management Plan, aggressively implementing green infrastructure and developing a climate resilience plan.

2. Ottawa City Council can ensure that the 2019 budget prioritizes climate change action through the following actions:

a. Funding staff and programs to accelerate initiatives to reduce Ottawa’s community greenhouse gas emissions, including Energy Evolution;
b. Accelerating Ottawa’s transition to more sustainable modes of transportation by significantly increasing funding for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, as well as public transit;
c. Dramatically reducing wasteful, environmentally damaging and costly road expansions, especially in sensitive areas such as the Greenbelt; and
d. Implementing smarter urban planning and curbing sprawl.
e. Enhancing Ottawa’s resilience to a changing climate by funding the Urban Forest Management Plan, continuing land acquisition efforts, and dramatically ramping up implementation of green infrastructure.