Councillors embrace "climate protection"

on .

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.

Moffatt still thinks it’s a bit strange that the environment committee has that title when much of the bureaucracy it oversees is related to water pipes, sewers and garbage. (Of course, those things do relate to the environment.)

Turns out the majority of the finance and economic development committee doesn’t mind adding “climate protection” to the environment committee’s title. Council will be asked to confirm the decision next week.

One final note from the discussion on committees. The city is trying to identify blind spots in the governance structure – issues that don’t have a natural home in the standing committees.

Wildlife management is one of those issues.

At first it might seem natural to stuff it into the environment portfolio, but there are circumstances that likely call for the agriculture and rural affairs committee’s advice.

Going back to the great coyote scare around 2010, and then the one-offs of a moose or deer wandering into the urban area, and more recently with birds smashing into buildings, the city has grappled with non-domesticated animals.

So, the city is coming up with a plan to snare those wild issues and give them a home at city hall.

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