A Victory for Concerned Citizens

Diane Holmes asked for a staff presentation on the greenhouse gas inventory

On May 3rd true environmentally concerned city councillors stepped up to the plate and did their part. A report on a study of greenhouse gasses produced within Ottawa’s boundaries was in danger of slipping into obscurity without debate or discussion. Diane Holmes showed leadership despite what Peter Hume called “ill will and procedural wrangling” due to the fact that some didn’t want to deal with the issue. The question of whether the City of Ottawa’s Environment Committee could even discuss the study was forced to a vote and thankfully a majority of Committee members supported adding the item to the agenda for the next meeting.

As a result, on June 19th city staff will give Environment Committee a briefing on a study into Corporate and Community Greenhouse Gas Inventories for 2004 and 2008.

The reason this is such a victory for concerned citizens is because this City Council so rarely shows any public disagreement at all.

What follows is a video and transcript of the May 3rd Environment Committee discussions as well as a copy of the GHG Inventory report at issue.

Transcript of the meeting discussion

Environment Committee Chair Councillor Maria McRae: Okay, (b) 2004 and 2008 Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Reduction Measures and Approach To Future Targets, is that item received?

Councillor Diane Holmes: Madam Chair, I’d like a staff presentation on that. Do we have someone who can come and walk us through the report?

Maria McRae: So first of all Councillor, it’s not an agenda item so there’s, um, it’s not on the agenda. And second of all there’s no staff members here to speak to this because no committee member indicated that they wanted this to be moved to the agenda.

Diane Holmes: Okay so I’ll ask that it be moved to the agenda for the next meeting Madam Chair.

Maria McRae: Okay, so I’m not sure technically how we do that, is it a notice of motion Madam Clerk?

Committee Coordinator Carole Legault: Yes, the councillor can move a motion and the committee may choose to approve it and then it will be lifted off the agenda and considered at the subsequent meeting.

Diane Holmes: I’ll move that motion then Madam Chair, that this item be moved to the agenda for the next meeting of this committee.

[Chatting and consultation off microphone.]

Maria McRae: Okay, so, can you, um, sorry Councillor Holmes, I just want to clarify the process. Do you’re moving a motion to add the IPD [Information Previously Distributed] as an agenda item to the next committee meeting.

Diane Holmes: That’s correct.

Maria McRae: Okay, okay, is there, um

Diane Holmes: So that there’ll be staff present here to answer questions and to give a short presentation on the item.

Maria McRae: Okay, do any members wish to discuss this motion?

[Councillor Allan Hubley wishes to speak – some fiddling with microphones and screen speaking software]

Maria McRae: Okay, Councillor Hubley.

Allan Hubley: I’d like to have yeas and nays on that motion.

Maria McRae: Would you like to debate that motion at all?

Allan Hubley: Certainly.

Maria McRae: Okay so now you’ve got the floor.

Allan Hubley: Okay, thank you.  I don’t see this as a municipal issue and therefore I don’t think we should be putting it on our Environment Committee’s agenda. We have a lot of work ahead of us Madam Chair and I don’t like to have issues on there that are not ours to deal with. So thank you.

Maria McRae: Thank you very much Councillor Hubley. To confirm Councillor Homes, the motion that you have on the table is you want a presentation on this report that was distributed, is that correct?

Diane Holmes: Yes, I’d like it on the agenda for the next meeting Madam Chair.

Maria McRae: Right, but you’re looking for information, you’re not looking for any further action on this file.

Diane Holmes: It will be a normal agenda item when it comes forward.

Maria McRae: Right, but you haven’t asked for additional staff action, okay.

Diane Holmes: No, just the report as is to be placed on the agenda.

Maria McRae: Okay, thank you, I just wanted clarification. Okay, are there any other speakers on the list. Councillor Egli.

Councillor Keith Egli: Yes, it’s again, it’s I guess more of a question for Councillor Holmes, just so I understand before the vote, ah, so, through the chair, so what you’re asking is in effect to put it on for information purposes and have staff available to simply answer questions, is that the intent?

Diane Holmes: No Madam Chair, the usual process around here is that if there is an information item that one would like to see open for discussion, for the public and our staff, and that staff present as any other item that you’re asking questions on it, that would become a regular item of a committee meeting.

Keith Egli: No no, I appreciate that, I guess the question I’m asking, through the chair is, is this for information purposes or is this an action, er, an action item that you’re, I’m just trying to…

Diane Holmes: When it becomes a regular issue, a regular item on an agenda, it is an action item.

Maria McRae: No, I think Councillor Holmes if I can clarify, I think it’s a received item. There are no actions in the IPD report.

Keith Egli: And that’s what I’m asking, yeah.

Diane Holmes: But when that item goes on a regular agenda, it becomes a regular agenda item. That’s what I’m asking for.

Maria McRae: I understand but in fairness Councillor Holmes but in the last, since council, since this term of council started there’s been no procedural moving IPDs so in fairness to Councillor Egli, he’s asking a procedure question,  so for clarification if committee agrees to put this on the next agenda it appears as a received report, there’s no action items coming out of this report.

Diane Holmes: Yes.

Maria McRae: Correct.

Keith Egli: And that’s what I was simply asking.

Maria McRae: Correct, and again it’s in fairness to this committee, we’ve never added an IPD before and I can appreciate the clarification. Councillor Hume.

Peter Hume: Just on procedure, I mean, the fact that she wants to speak to this item and committee says no we’re not prepared to put it on the agenda, she can in her own right put it on as a councillor’s item and it will before you in any event. And it is pretty much common practice around here that when a councillor says I want, I’d like to speak to this item at the next meeting, that it comes back as, um, a regular item that they can speak to. It’s not a report, it’s not any different, it’s done at Planning Committee [of which Peter Hume is Chair] on a number of occasions, and I think that it’s… I’m surprised that we’d have to vote on it, but I think it’s a matter of common professional courtesy that when these items appear, that they’re placed on the agenda so a member can speak to them. Because if we said no she can put it on, submit it as a councillor’s item and it will be before you in any event, um, as a matter of course, and so I would suggest that rather than continue this debate and engender more ill will and procedural wrangling, that we would just agree to the practice that has been what we have done here for as long as I’ve known that we’ve dealt with these items.

Maria McRae: Councillor thank you for your clarification and again I think, um, we provided that clarity, Councillor Egli asked a great question about procedure. We haven’t done this here before and your point is well taken. So I think for clarification, Councillor Holmes hasn’t asked to debate this right now she’s asked to move an IPD to the agenda for the next meeting in the format that it came to this committee. And we’re not asking for additional staff reports or any extra work to be done at this time, it’s simply to lift the IPD from information today to have it as an agenda item on the June meeting. And I appreciate that you’ve had the chance to clarify.

Diane Holmes: I want yeas and nays Madam Chair.

Maria McRae: Now Councillor Holmes want’s yeas and nays, Councillor Hubley was pepared to carry it, okay, not a problem. Are there any other speakers to this, okay, so we’re now voting on whether to move an IPD from the May meeting as information, to an agenda item for the June meeting.

Carole Legault takes the votes

  • Councillor Chernushenko: yes
  • Councillor Egli: yes
  • Councillor Fleury: yes
  • Councillor Holmes: yes
  • Councillor Hubley: no
  • Councillor Moffatt: no
  • Councillor Hume: yes
  • Councillor McRae: yes
    [Councillor Desroches was absent]

Maria McRae: Okay, so that will appear as an agenda item for the June meeting, and Mr. Weir we can ask that during this time staff work on a presentation, I think Councillor Holmes asked for a presentation so if you could please make arrangements for that and ensure that the appropriate staff are here. And I understand that you’ve just taken over this piece of this policy so if you could work on that that would be appreciated.

Dixon Weir: Yes, will do.

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4 Responses to A Victory for Concerned Citizens

  1. Erwin says:

    Hilarious!

  2. Blayne says:

    Good work on this, Charles. Thanks for helping reveal the contents of this report to us Ottawa citizens. I look forward to hearing more about it on the 19th.

  3. Mark Brooks says:

    Great work Charles.

  4. Pingback: Interview with Charles Hodgson of Ecology Ottawa on the City of Ottawa Greenhouse Gas Inventory « earthgauge

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