Action: Tell your Councillor you like what you see coming out of the Choosing Our Future process and that you want to see the plans implemented.
Tell the Mayor too.
There are a few things wrong with the suite of planning documents that have been produced for the City and the Region but there are dozens and dozens of things right with the plans.
One of the things wrong is that there are telltale signs that the City of Ottawa may not enthusiastically pursue the implementation of the plans. So it’s important that your elected officials know you think these are important documents.
Made available online last Wednesday (Feb 15, 2012) the information runs to almost 300 pages. The overall focus is making the Ottawa/Gatineau region sustainable in every way. Because climate change is such an important issue as relates to sustainability, initiatives that address climate change appear many many times in the plans.
One example of a priority action proposed by the Sustainability &Resilience Plan is a “sustainability lens.” It should be no surprise that I like this proposal since I blogged about it months ago.
The reason that climate change initiatives appear repeatedly throughout the planning documents is the same reason that a sustainability lens would be so valuable. There is so much in what we do every day with greenhouse gas implications that bringing a tool to City decision-making that would highlight these connections is sure to aid in making more climate-responsible decisions.
There are lots of other great suggestions in the plans such as catalyst projects with communities. Much of the discussion on greening buildings, limiting urban sprawl, densification and infill is in line with directions the City is already taking.
In part the release of these documents justifies the existence of Climate Ottawa. The 2011 Sustainability Baseline (31 pages) looks at 16 sustainability indicators, one of which is climate change. Of the 16 indicators only 3 are graded as most needing improvement, one of these being climate change. The reason I set up Climate Ottawa was because I felt this issue wasn’t getting enough attention at City Hall.
The plans themselves say they need “the widespread support of individuals and organizations in the community” in order to work. Give the plans some of your time and see what you think. If you agree then let your Councillor know.
Here are the plans:
- Sustainability and Resilience Plan (120 pages – parent document)
- Energy and Emissions Plan (78 pages)
- Risk Prevention and Mitigation Plan (50 pages)
My disappointment remains in the fact that the plans do not include a renewed greenhouse gas emission reduction target. Why not? The plans do recommend targetting 80% garbage diversion into recycling and compost.
As to the telltale signs that the City isn’t overly enthusiastic about these plans consider that on the same day the plans are going to Environment Committee the Mayor is promoting a splashy opening of Invest Ottawa which was mentioned both in the 2012 Budget speech and the January “state of the city” speech.
The Choosing Our Future plans however appeared unheralded several tiers down in a committee meeting agenda 3 days before a long weekend. If you didn’t know they were coming some time this spring you’d have missed them. The Friday before they appeared I’d actually asked when they were coming and been told hopefully in the next few months. The schedule for their being “received” by Environment Committee and then by full City Council stretches over all of 24 hours and starts the first day after the long weekend.
It’s almost as if the intent was to sweep these plans through the necessary process as quickly and quietly as possible.