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.

A climate primer for Ottawa

Below, we lay out the case for strong climate leadership from the City of Ottawa, and survey some of the opportunities for action over the next few months.

This information has been packaged into a document to hand to city councillors. You can access that document by clicking here

The context: 

There’s no sugar-coating it – we’re in the midst of a climate emergency. According to the United Nations, the world now has 11 years to limit climate change catastrophe by keeping global warming to a maximum of 1.5 °C. Beyond this level of warming, we will “significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.”[1]

Ottawa is not immune or isolated from the impacts of a warming world. Even with ambitious action, we can expect to see more severe weather events like April 2017’s record flooding and September 2018’s tornado, more heat waves like the type that killed 53 people in Montreal this summer, more invasive species like the Emerald Ash Borer, more threats to local food security and more costly damage to our built infrastructure. We can also expect to receive increasing numbers of climate refugees, as countries around the world deal with flooding, drought and climate-induced conflict.

What role should the City of Ottawa play?

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.[2] As Canada’s fourth largest city and national capital, Ottawa has a critically important role to play in the fight against climate change.

Unfortunately, Ottawa’s climate performance to date has been deeply inadequate to scope and scale of the climate challenge. We have a well thought-out energy plan called Energy Evolution, but this plan has been delayed over the last term of council and will only be released late next year. We have reasonable climate targets, but emission reductions to date are primarily a result of the provincial coal phase-out – not municipal policy.

Worryingly, the city still has no clear plan to meet our climate targets. According to the city’s own documentation, even an aggressive uptake of the policy scenarios outlined in the first phase of Energy Evolution does not get us to our target. Many more measures urgently need to be taken. With 11 years to go, Ottawa still has yet to define many of them, let alone adopt them.

How can the City of Ottawa reach its 2050 goal?

At the simplest level, we need to do three things to reach our climate goal:

  • Dramatically reduce emissions from stationery energy, or how we heat cool and electrify our homes, offices and other buildings. (This accounts for 47% of Ottawa’s emissions.)
  • Dramatically reduce emissions from transportation, or how we move around our city. (This accounts for 44% of Ottawa’s emissions.)
  • We must plan the future development of our city in a way that makes the first and second goals easier to accomplish.

While the second phase of Energy Evolution (due in late 2019) will provide additional details for possible actions in these areas, we cannot afford to wait any longer to show municipal leadership on climate change. The levers of ambitious municipal climate action have been known for decades. Other jurisdictions such as Vancouver and Montreal have long ago implemented many of the policy solutions that Ottawa is still failing to advance.

What can city council do now?

There are two immediate steps city council can take to start the next term off on the right foot:

  1. Make climate action a major focus of the Term of Council Priorities process.
  2. Allocate an unprecedented level of funding and staffing towards climate action in the 2019 budget.

Step 1: Make climate change a major focus of the Term of Council Priorities process 

Over the next several months, council will define its priorities for the 2019-2022 council session. The Term of Council priorities process will determine the scope and scale of the city’s work on the climate file over the coming years, including key deliverables.

In July 2015, city council released a Strategic Plan that defined seven Strategic Priorities, under which 21 Strategic Objectives and 63 Strategic Initiatives were identified. In 2015, climate action was relegated to a small sub-category of action, with two Strategic Initiatives focused on a climate plan and a renewable energy strategy. In both cases, the city failed to make the progress required; there were no updates on the climate plan during the last term of council, and the renewable energy strategy was piecemealed and delayed into 2019. While “climate change” and “renewable energy” were mentioned as “Long-Term Sustainability Goals,” this categorization came with no funding or hard policy commitments.

2015-2018 Term of Council Priorities:

……….

We cannot afford to shy away from much greater climate ambition in 2019. While the Term of Council Priorities have taken various forms over the years, it is critical that climate action take precedence. Below, we have identified one scenario through which climate action can be secured as part of the Term of Council Priorities process.

While “climate action” might take a variety of different forms in the Term of Council priorities process, two things are essential for council to demonstrate sufficient commitment. First, council must have a plan to tackle Ottawa’s two largest sources of emissions – buildings and transportation. Second, council must systematically incorporate climate considerations into a wide range of areas (e.g., planning, climate adaptation planning, urban forestry).

2019 Term of Council Priorities – example scenario:

strategic-priority-_-sustainable-environmental-services-e1547671337262.png

Step 2: Allocate an unprecedented level of funding and staffing towards climate action in the 2019 budget

In the 2019 budget, the City of Ottawa can become a climate leader. We need the city to:

  1. Fund and allocate staff and programs to accelerate implementation of Energy Evolution, as well as other environmental initiatives to reduce Ottawa’s community greenhouse gas emissions.  This will include initiatives across a broad number of city departments, such as planning, transportation, transit, environment and economic development.

Explanation: The City of Ottawa has reduced staff working on Energy Evolution and other key environmental initiatives over the years. In the last budget, two employees were responsible for managing the city’s response to the most urgent issue facing the planet. The city desperately needs to ramp up ambition on staffing and programs if it hopes to meet its climate targets.

2. Accelerate Ottawa’s transition to more sustainable modes of transportation by significantly increasing funding for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, as well as public transit.

Explanation: Ottawa has one of the highest single-use transit fares in Canada, and rates have been rising much faster than the rate of inflation for the past several years. Meanwhile, transit ridership has been declining even as Ottawa’s population has been rising.[3] More ambitious transit investments are critical if Ottawa wants to shift its transportation away from car-dependency.

While the city has been making ambitious pedestrian and cycling infrastructure investments over the past few years, there is a risk that these investments will now dry up because the provincial government has dramatically reduced funding. Ottawa must not let provincial inaction stand in the way of making our city more walkable and bike-friendly.  

3. Dramatically reduce wasteful, environmentally damaging and costly road expansions, especially in sensitive areas such as the Greenbelt.

Explanation: For all of the progress the City of Ottawa has made on sustainable transportation, it continues to take wasteful, environmentally damaging and costly steps backwards. Money spent on roads is wasteful when it fails to achieve its goal. Often, the city’s stated goal is to reduce congestion, and yet evidence indicates that new or widened roads actually maintain or worsen congestion levels and further entrenches car usage. New roads are also environmentally damaging, especially when they’re built or widened in areas of the city such as the Greenbelt. Finally, road investments cost tens of millions of dollars, and crowd out investments in other areas (e.g., climate change program staffing, investments in sustainable infrastructure, etc.). 

4. Implement smarter urban planning and curb urban sprawl.

Explanation: The evidence is clear: walkable, bike-able communities connected by world-class public transit go a long way towards lowering a city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Yet Ottawa is still planning entire new communities around the car, with minimal transit access and poor pedestrian and cycling connections. Pushing for smarter community design means we can preserve more green space and farmland, and save money that would otherwise have been spent on new road networks (see above).

5. Enhance Ottawa’s resilience to a changing climate by funding implementation of the Urban Forest Management Plan, continuing land acquisition efforts, and dramatically ramping up implementation of green infrastructure.

Explanation: The Urban Forest Management Plan is an ambitious plan to strengthen and safeguard Ottawa’s tree canopy over the next 20 years. However, the plan is at risk of falling by the wayside without sustained funding. Meanwhile, while green infrastructure is widely acknowledged as a partial solution to wet weather impacts from climate change, the City of Ottawa is still rolling out projects selectively and experimentally, rather than at scale. While the City of Ottawa should be commended for its continued efforts to purchase and protect land, more spending here helps further combat sprawl and keep Ottawa-area ecosystems intact. 

6. Understand and communicate back to the public that these undertakings have paybacks and support the local economy.

Explanation: Energy efficiency and local clean energy projects reduce our future energy costs, while low-carbon transportation and a vibrant tree canopy develops a healthier Ottawa. The clean economy is a growing sector that Ottawa cannot afford to ignore when it considers diversification and growth of its employment base.

[1] The Guardian. “We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN.” Retrieved November 28, 2018 from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report.

[2] Federation of Canadian Municipalities. “About climate change.” Retrieved November 28, 2018 from: https://fcm.ca/home/programs/partners-for-climate-protection/about-climate-change.htm.

[3] Reevely, D. “Transit fares must keep rising to pay for LRT, even as ridership slips.” Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved January 3, 2019 from: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/reevely-transit-fares-must-keep-rising-to-pay-for-lrt-even-as-ridership-slips.

It’s all because of you!

What a year it’s been! Looking back at 2018, our local movement to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada has never been stronger or more energized.

This is due to you. Our movement is people-powered, driven in huge part by hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors.

So thank you for making 2018 a smashing success. Below, we provide a quick re-cap on the year that was and point to new directions for 2019. We hope you’ll help power this important work into 2019 by making a donation. The King Foundation has generously pledged $15,000 if we can secure 30 new monthly donors, and we hope you’ll help us reach this goal.
What happened in 2018? There’s a long answer and a short one. For the long answer, please click here. For the short answer, check out our Top 3 Accomplishments list below.

#1: Organizing to elect a greener city council 

Every election presents a strategic opportunity to push environmental issues onto the agenda, engage candidates and mobilize the environmental vote. The 2018 municipal election featured our largest candidate engagement effort to date (30 candidates), massive candidate engagement in our all-candidates’ survey (over 80 responses), four environmental debates in all corners of the city (with 500 participants), and mobilization of thousands of environmentally-minded voters on election day.

The result? This council is much greener than the last one. Most elected councillors are committed to advancing on key environmental issues. While there will surely be challenges, the stage is set for meaningful improvements across a range of environmental issues in 2019.

#2: Making huge headway on green infrastructure and trees

As cities wrestle with climate impacts like heat waves and flooding, more and more are turning to a powerful solution: green infrastructure, the living and built systems that slow down, soak up and filter water where it falls. In 2018, Ecology Ottawa issued a report on the state of green infrastructure in Ottawa, attracted media attention with our push for a green roofs bylaw and launched a door-to-door outreach program. Meanwhile, we continued our efforts to revitalize Ottawa with trees – a vital ingredient in green infrastructure solutions. With the help of dozens of volunteers, 9,000 trees entered the hands of Ottawa residents city-wide.

Stay tuned for more exciting work on green infrastructure next year, as well as our largest-ever tree campaign effort to date.    

 

#3: Keeping climate change accountability on the agenda 

In June, the provincial election produced a new government promising to change course on climate action. The province’s new approach to climate change has been alarming. The dismantling of cap-and-trade threatens to derail the city’s climate progress by cutting projects like housing retrofits and new infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.

In November, the city released new emissions data. While the city is making some progress, its slow pace and lack of policy ambition point to a need for ongoing vigilance and public engagement in the years ahead.

In 2019, we will continue to put climate change front and centre in the public conversation, and to get results for our city. We can only do this with people power. Stay tuned for steps on how you can drive climate results in Ottawa starting in January.

Obviously, there’s a lot more work to do. We will succeed by mobilizing thousands of Ottawans from all corners of our great city.Your donations power change at city hall and build a greener city and planet. Thank you for your ongoing support, and your ongoing commitment to making Ottawa an incredible place to call home.

Our New Year’s resolutions, and how you can help

Already thinking of your New Year’s resolutions? So are we!

Guided by over 300 responses to our election campaign and priority survey, our team has laid out five key priorities for 2019, along with an action plan. From ramping up green infrastructure to holding city hall accountable, this plan is certainly ambitious. Yet while our staff team is small, our network of volunteers and supporters is mighty and eager to build a greener city, and we are so excited to get started.

Help us fight for a greener Ottawa. Join our Protector’s Circle today by providing a monthly gift. The Protector’s Circle is critical to Ecology Ottawa’s work, allowing us to engage in high-impact advocacy that makes a real difference on many of the environmental issues facing our city. The King Foundation has generously offered us $15,000 if we can secure 30 new monthly donors by the end of the year. Whether it’s $5, $50 or $100 a month, your donation will go a long way to supporting our work.

Based on your feedback, here’s our list of priorities for 2019:

1. Pushing for climate change action from the city. With the province cutting funding for city-level climate initiatives like active transportation and energy efficiency, the City of Ottawa needs to step up like never before. We need to see unprecedented action on climate change in this term of council – with policies, funding and resources at a level that matches the urgency of the climate crisis. We will push for an inspiring vision of a city that can become more vibrant, just and livable through leadership on climate change.

2. Ramping up green infrastructure and restoring Ottawa’s tree canopy. From downspout re-directs to rain gardens, we’re getting Ottawans excited about all the ways they can deal with rainwater at the household and neighbourhood level – all while building a more climate-resilient city. In 2019, we will also continue to reforest our urban tree canopy by giving away thousands of trees to Ottawa residents. With trees and green infrastructure, we will engage in a vital conversation about how Ottawa can better prepare for severe weather impacts, flooding, invasive species and heat waves.

3. Securing safe and easy access to light rail for pedestrians and cyclists. The soon-to-launch light rail project could mark a giant leap forward for sustainable transportation in Ottawa – but only if tens of thousands of residents can leave their cars at home and connect to rail by bus, bike or foot. Ecology Ottawa will be engaging the public on sustainability solutions at and around light rail stations with street audits, public forums and new reports.

4. Using the federal election to demand more climate leadership from all parties. Canadians will head to the polls in October 2019, and Ottawans will cast their ballots for eight area MPs. Each of these races provides an opportunity to demand more climate leadership from our federal representatives. We’ll be knocking on thousands of doors across the city, hosting federal debates on environmental issues and holding parties to account on their records and promises.

5. Holding the newly-elected city council accountable. We are bringing back Council Watch, our annual report card that documents councillors’ votes on key environmental issues. The next term of council will wrestle with some major issues, including whether to extend the urban boundary for more development, how to increase transit access, and how to sustain momentum on restoring Ottawa’s tree canopy. We’ll be keeping tabs on who is helping and who is hindering efforts to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada.

We need your help to make these priorities happen. Become a member of the Protector’s Circle today!