City urged to work faster on climate change strategy

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City councillors faced criticism from local environmental organizers who pointed to a lack of hard data in the city's plan to cut carbon emissions.

By Haley Ritchie, Metro

Winterlude could one day become waterlude if we don't move fast enough, according to one speaker urging city councillors to move faster on its climate change plan.

"Climate change is here, it's impacts are increasingly severe," said Coun. David Chernushenko, who kicked off Tuesday's environmental committee meeting with a global tally of flooding, wildfires and short winters.

"They're just as real here in Ottawa, where we have not yet seen anything close to the scale of the impacts on other places," he said.

Staff gave an update to councillors on the city's renewable energy strategy, including the $300,000 set aside last year for pilot projects meant to "increase energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy generation."

Most initiatives target the largest carbon emitters: buildings and vehicles. Many members of the public who spoke expressed concern that not enough was being done.

Angela Keller-Herzog, a small business owner living in downtown Ottawa, criticized the city's plan for lacking hard data and not providing incentives to individuals. Keller-Herzog said her bed and breakfast has solar panels and bicycles for guests.

"We shouldn't be complacent and we're not actually doing that great," she said.

Chernushenko called the crique "accurate and necessary."

Graham Saul from Ecology Ottawa echoed that criticism, concerned that the city wasn't moving fast enough to combat climate change.

"I'm seeing a real disconnect between what the community is looking for and what we're prepared to do," said Coun. Jeff Leiper.

"I know for real change to occur we need to set bold targets, finance those, measure them and report back. Those four steps help us to go forward," said Coun. Catherine McKenney. "Without any one of them it's easy to not meet what we want to meet."