EU-Canada World Cities closing conference in Ottawa

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The closing conference of the EU-Canada component of the EU's highly successful World Cities cooperation project was held in Ottawa on Friday 20 June 2016. The project, which originates in a proposal of the European Parliament, provides for the pairing of city authorities and actors in Europe with their counterparts in, respectively, China, India, Canada and Japan, with the aim of encouraging exchanges of experience and best practice, and the development of joint projects. Participating in the Ottawa event were the Canadian cities of Saanich, Edmonton, Ottawa and Halifax and their EU counterparts, respectively, Almada (PT), Vitoria-Gasteiz (ES), Hannover (DE) and Tallinn (EE).

In his keynote address to the conference, Ronnie Hall, chief advisor in the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy said that urbanization was a global challenge. He drew attention to the role of urban development as a central pillar of the EU's cohesion policy programmes for 2014-2020. "We have put in place a battery of actions to advance the urban agenda in Europe, and our cities have responded enthusiastically. More of the EU's resources will be directly managed by the cities than ever before. The cities also have new opportunities to experiment and to link up with European counterparts. We are in the process of creating a fund of experience which will also contribute to our international relations with cities outside the EU", he said.

New eco-friendly electric boat service on the Rideau Canal

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Photo by Justin Tang

Parks Canada

For the 2016 season, Ottawa Boat Cruises will be offering a new, eco-friendly and unique cruising experience on the downtown Ottawa portion of the Rideau Canal National Historic Site. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Minister responsible for Parks Canada and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, Catherine McKenna, officially launched the tour boat today.

“I am very pleased that this new, innovative and eco-friendly service will provide visitors and residents with yet another way to experience and enjoy the history and beauty of the Rideau Canal Historic Site. This new boat cruise will also support local tourism, jobs and our economy,” McKenna said.

Two new state-of-the-art, purpose-built, electric boats will host visitors and locals alike for day-time tours and other special events.

The locally built boats are the largest certified fully-electric passenger boats in Canada. The first boat, The Queen Elizabeth dr., will commence operations in time for Canada Day. The second boat, The Colonel By, will be launched in time for the 2017 season.

Blue Dot Declaration brings out the aspirational and the asinine at Ottawa council

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Columnist Steve Collins had the – pleasure? – or watching Ottawa city council do its best impression of a particularly unenlightening Twitter spat.

Steve Collins, Metro

A certain amount of council business isn't exactly city business. Feel-good proclamations, rah-rahs for sports teams and all manner of other fluff find their way into the council chamber, usually without offending.

June, for example, is Seniors' Month in Ontario. In theory, it would probably still happen with or without the city's input, but no chances were being taken last week, as council voted to officially declare it as such again this year.

Just before the motion's unanimously passage, Mayor Jim Watson quipped: “Anyone against seniors? No?”

Next up, Coun. David Chernushenko had a similar pair of goody-two-shoes, an endorsement of the Blue Dot Declaration, which calls for recognition of a right to a healthy environment, clean drinking water, etc. About 130 municipalities, including Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver, have signed on.

“Well, following that lead,” he joked, “anyone against the environment?”

As it turns out, yes. What ensued at times resembled a particularly unenlightening Twitter spat, excepting the reckless disregard for 140-character limits, and the fact that all the bizarre non sequiturs, ad hominems and straw men were being spoken aloud, on the record, by elected officials.

Coun. Rick Chiarelli warned this endorsement of environmental rights (described by Chernushenko as “symbolic,” by city staff as “aspirational”) would somehow result in the “unelected unaccountable” courts taking over all decision-making from elected officials.

City joins Carbon 613 program

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Ottawa Business Journal

A local program that brings together businesses committed to sustainable operations welcomed four new members to its group this week.

The City of Ottawa, Hydro Ottawa, the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and CSV Architects all joined EnviroCentre’s Carbon 613 program.

The city recently announced it is committed to trying to reduce its 2012 greenhouse gas emission levels by 80 per cent by 2050. The city is “better positioned” to meet those targets, according to Capital Coun. David Chernushenko, who also chairs the city’s environment committee.

“The city can also use this opportunity to be a catalyst and encourage other organizations to create their own plans to improve sustainability and reduce GHG emissions,” Mr. Chernushenko said in a statement.

EnviroCentre executive director Michael Murr said his organization was “delighted” to welcome its newest members.

“Each organization brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will help Carbon 613 members of any size as they measure their GHG emissions, set reduction targets and identify opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their bottom line,” he said in a statement.