As expected Environment Committee of the City of Ottawa “received” the outcome documents of Choosing Our Future yesterday. Hence full City Council will “receive” them today and they’ll become official city documents.
The meeting seemed to me simultaneously important and meaningless.
It was important because it brought forward these planning documents which at the moment appear to be our best (perhaps only) path forward to reducing climate change contributions in Ottawa.
It was important in that it brought forward a number of stellar interveners who spoke passionately in support of the plans:
- Dr. John Stone, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for his role as a Lead Author on the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (his comments reproduced below)
- Chris Henderson, founder of Lumos Energy and the Delphi Group plus numerous other roles including advisor to Canada’s Commissioner for the Environment.
- Bill Pugsley, former DG Meteorology and Oceanography at DND and former Director of Scientific Program Development at Environment Canada’s Canadian Climate Centre plus member of the City’s Environmental Advisory Committee. (his comments below)
- Graham Saul, Chair of Ecology Ottawa and former Director of Climate Action Network Canada. (his comments below)
It seemed meaningless because, in the words of several people I’ve talked to, “Council has no appetite” for dealing with climate change. This was evident at yesterday’s meeting in several respects beyond the rush-it-through concerns I expressed in yesterday’s post.
- Both the Committee Chair Councillor Maria McRae and Deputy City Manager Nancy Schepers repeatedly (very repeatedly) noted that these documents were only a framework and that they didn’t commit the city to actually do anything; they aren’t plans. (Though the word plan appears on their covers and on the agenda item for this meeting)
- Councillor Allan Hubley seemed to feel that Choosing Our Future had been a waste of a million bucks and sought assurances that no more money was going to be spent on it. Somehow, everything the City is supposed to be doing along these lines, it is already doing.
- Committee members were hardly glued to their seats for this critically important initiative. The meeting risked losing quorum at any moment as Councillors wandered around the room talking to other people and sometimes left for a few moments or for the day.
At least Councillor Diane Holmes and David Chernushenko spoke up to support the plans. Perhaps others who remained silent also felt the initiative important, but no one contradicted me when I closed my own presentation to Committee by saying I had the feeling that the City didn’t have much interest in having allies to progress the efforts on climate change.