Climate change should be a city budget priority: Coun. David Chernushenko

le .

By Joe Lofaro, Metro

Climate change is not a priority in the 2015 draft budget, but it ought to be because it is the most “urgent, pressing, and potentially expensive challenge facing the human population on the planet,” says Coun. David Chernushenko.

The Capital Ward councillor, who is also the chair the city’s environment committee, said prioritizing funds for climate change initiatives, such as taking more cars off the road and converting to energy-efficient lighting, could potentially be pricey for Ottawa, but nowhere near the costs of doing nothing.

Chernushenko said it’s a challenge to convince city council it is a priority.

“Western North America is suffering from unusually hot temperatures and severe drought and the middle to eastern North America has been under a deep freeze.”

In May 2014, city council adopted a climate change plan with five action items that were to be considered in the 2015 draft budget.

In a recent newsletter to supports, Ecology Ottawa executive director Graham Saul calls on the public to contact their councillor to make some noise about climate change ahead of more budget talks. He said it appears only one of those items, relating to city’s forest management strategy, is included in the draft budget.

City staff wrote in an email to Metro on Monday the forest management strategy is already being funded by the 2014 budget. “No new additional money required,” the email read.

In addition to the budget, city council must also consider where to direct $37.4 million to fund strategic initiatives for the 2015-2018 term.

“Right now at city hall there’s this big battle going about whose priorities are going to be funded with that $37 million,” said Saul, who would like to see the remaining four items in the climate change action plan receive funding.

Chernushenko agrees some of the funding should go to climate change actions and will push for the ones which have the greatest bang for the buck.

The five action items:

  1. Convert Ottawa’s street lighting system to LED by 2020
  2. Work with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), Electrical Safety Authority, Energy Ottawa and/or others to ensure FIT installations at City facilities can be used as a back-up energy supply.
  3. Implement Vehicle Telematics for Municipal Fleet.
  4. Identify and prioritize land for protection, acquisition, and naturalization, taking climate change into consideration.
  5. Complete the Forest Management Strategy that identifies ways to increase tree cover and maintain the health of this City asset.

Starting to see the squeeze

le .

Residents want services to continue, but oppose the taxes to pay for them

Joanne Chianello, Ottawa Citizen

Next month, Toronto’s city council is expected to wade into uncharted municipal territory — imposing city-specific sales taxes.

They’re not quite there yet. At its March meeting, Toronto’s council is slated to discuss whether it wants to direct city staff to study the impact of new taxes on purchases such as liquor, tobacco and other entertainment.

Even opening up this discussion has drawn pointed criticism, in particular from Toronto’s newly minted mayor, John Tory, who’s for putting the kibosh on any sort of additional municipal tax.

Now, if you’re starting to sweat at the prospect of our own city council getting expansionary tax ideas from its Toronto brethren, you can relax — at least for now. Toronto is the only municipality in Ontario allowed to impose new taxes. (Put aside momentarily any justified outrage over the province bestowing unique powers on Toronto.) Suffice it to say that even if Ottawa wanted to impose new taxes, it cannot do so under the current rules.

Still, the Toronto discussion makes you think. What if the province could be convinced to give Ottawa, like Toronto, at least the option? Should our city contemplate new forms of taxation?

It would never happen without a lot of argument and angst. New taxes are never popular, and can be political killers. Who wants to be the mayor known for introducing new “revenue tools?” The fact is, however, the money to run the city has to come from somewhere. And we’re increasingly feeling the squeeze on services and initiatives in Ottawa’s draft 2015 budget, as council tries to keep the residential property tax increase to two per cent.

Getting Ready for Spring Flooding

le .

Let's prepare now to protect our homes and families in the event of future flooding

Presentations & Community Discussion
Monday, March 2, 7 p.m.
Old Town Hall Community Centre, 61 Main St.

Presented by the Old Ottawa East Community Association

Did you know that we narrowly missed record-breaking flooding last year? Based on the rainfall forecast, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority predicted on April 12, 2014 that flows through the Old Ottawa East neighbourhood could reach 610 cubic metres per second (cms). This volume would have far exceeded all previous records including the flow of 497 cms reached in 2008. Luckily, the forecasted rain did not arrive.

Agenda

  • Spring flooding in Ottawa: How your municipality prepares and responds (City of Ottawa)
  • Flooding in Old Ottawa East: History and future expectations (Rideau Valley Conservation Authority)
  • Proposed emergency communications network: A pilot project for Brantwood Park (Pauline Lynch-Stewart & Peter Croal)

Discussion to follow each presentation. Here's your chance to get answers to your burning questions about what to do in the face of potential flooding in Old Ottawa East.