What’s in a name? City’s environment committee takes on climate change

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By Jennifer McIntosh, Ottawa Community News

Two members of the public wanted to get the city’s environment committee to change more than its name on Nov. 1.

As part of the midterm governance review, the environment committee will change it’s name to the environment and climate protection committee to better reflect the work it does, said committee chair David Chernushenko.

“It’s symbolic, but it’s more than that,” Chernushenko said.

But Donna DuBreuil, president of the Ottawa Carleton wildlife centre, wanted more than a name change.

DuBreuil said it makes little sense for the city’s agriculture and rural affairs committee to deal with urban wildlife concerns and urban forest management, since most of their work deals with the city’s rural area.

“Wildlife and bio diversity is an integral part of the city’s environment,” she said.

Debbie Laws, a member of the board of directors for the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre, said the centre dealt with thousands of injured birds last year.

The number of injured birds topped 3,300 last year, she said – a 35 per cent increase over the previous year. And for a small, not-for-profit, the increase in winged patients puts a lot of pressure on the budget.

“I find it odd that birds and wildlife don’t fall under the environment committee’s mandate,” she said. “It’s responsible for the common green spaces and natural areas. The committee should also be responsible for the birds and wildlife that need those areas for their survival.”

Canal Wall Rehabilitation

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Parks Canada

Repair work on the canal walls in downtown Ottawa is slated to begin on November 7, 2016.

Parks Canada will rehabilitate a 500m length of the canal wall between the Bank Street Bridge and Pig Island on the East side of the Rideau Canal. Work includes chipping away the damaged concrete and re-forming and placing new concrete to resurface the walls. A 60m section near Pig Island will require complete reconstruction to address structural issues. The work will also include the replacement of light posts, handrails, and repaving the pathway.

The in-water work associated with this project is scheduled to be completed by May 2017 with remaining shoreline work to be completed by summer 2017.

Beginning at approximately 9 p.m. on November 7, the contractor will be installing fences around the construction site and additional safety measures along the southbound lane of Colonel By Drive. A signed detour route will be in place as this work will require the overnight closure of Colonel By Drive in this area.

A 1.4 km section of the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway, from Clegg Street to the Bank Street Bridge, will also be closed throughout construction and a detour route for pedestrians and cyclists, primarily along Echo Drive, will be in place. Temporary measures will be put in place at either end of the detour to assist pedestrians and cyclists in safely crossing Colonel By Drive as part of the detour route.

Fences will extend into the canal a short distance, but will have only a limited impact on the Rideau Canal Skateway. Residents and visitors will continue to be able to skate past this location while the rehabilitation work is underway.

Parks Canada is investing an unprecedented $3 billion dollars over 5 years to support infrastructure work to heritage, visitor, waterway, and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas across Canada. Through these investments, Parks Canada is protecting and preserving our treasured places, while supporting local economies, contributing to growth in the tourism sector, and enhancing the charm and attractiveness of Canada's heritage sites.

Councillors embrace "climate protection"

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Capital Coun. David Chernushenko convinced the finance and economic development committee to rename the environment committee to include "climate protection" in the title. PAT MCGRATH / OTTAWA CITIZEN

Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko sold climate protection to his colleagues today.

At first, he appeared to have lost his pitch to change the name of the environment committee he chairs to the “environment and climate protection committee.” It was an idea he came up with last February when the committee considered a report on climate change.

According to discussions the clerk’s office had with council members during the mid-term governance review, there wasn’t a consensus on changing the committee’s name and the proposal was destined for failure.

Since the governance review was up for approval at the finance and economic development committee, it was Chernushenko’s chance to force a vote on his idea. It seemed his inclusion of “protection” in the title swayed councillors like Jan Harder, Mark Taylor and Keith Egli.

Others, like Scott Moffatt and Allan Hubley, didn’t support it. As Moffatt explained, you don’t need to make symbolic changes to committee titles to actually do the work. What’s next, he mused, calling the transportation committee the “transportation and complete streets committee?”

We could go on.

Should the finance and economic development committee be called the “finance and economic development and Ottawa 2017 and brownfield applications and BIA boundary adjustment committee”?

Chernushenko argues, yes, it’s a symbolic gesture to have climate protection in the environment committee name, but so what? For him, it’s an important gesture since the city might have the most intimate role to play in climate protection.