On March 23 Mayor Watson recommitted the City to doing its fair share to fight climate change. Two days earlier the federal government renewed infrastructure funding that'll help end sewage spills into the Ottawa River.
The all day Saturday greenhouse gas roundtable wouldn't have happened without strong public support. The city was surprised when more than 30 citizen groups had requested to attend before the event was even announced. They were impressed when registration reached capacity in a week, even though they hadn’t posted on the city website. The public interest in the issue rivaled and surpassed what they'd seen in other recent consultations. That's what drives political will.
The city responded as they should; with a credible agenda and most importantly with Mayor Jim Watson announcing a re-commitment to the city’s climate change plan, including citywide greenhouse gas reduction targets that he made it his personal objective to surpass.
For seven years Ecology Ottawa has been advocating for action on climate change at the municipal level in Ottawa. The mayor's solid commitment at the GHG Roundtable represents a dramatic and welcome change in tone for the city. Ecology Ottawa celebrates this awakening, thanks Mayor Watson for his leadership and thanks especially concerned citizens of Ottawa who took action to let our elected officials know that climate change is an issue we must all take responsibility for.
But this is not a time to rest. Many attendees at the GHG Roundtable came away dissatisfied. Years of inaction make us justifiably anxious to see the action behind the words. Ecology Ottawa will continue to advocate and work to maintain popular pressure. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities points out that up to half of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are under the direct or indirect control or influence of municipal governments. As we've seen, your active support will help generate the political will so we in Ottawa can take our part in tackling this critical problem. The real victory will be when we see that greenhouse gas emissions have fallen.
Earlier in the same week the federal government brought forward its budget which highlighted another people powered breakthrough for Ottawa's environment. For more than a year Ecology Ottawa has raised awareness and gathered approximately 8,000 signatures aimed at convincing the federal and provincial governments to kick in their fair share toward solving Ottawa's ongoing problem of sewage spills into the local waterways. Your support of the issue has meant repeated press coverage and statements of commitment from federal and provincial ministers. With the 2013 budget extension of federal infrastructure funding we are one step closer to achieving our goal of a cleaner river. The city has its funds ready for the project and now the mechanism for federal matching funds has been put in place. What remains are specific project funding proposals and matching contributions from the province. Once again, people power has helped motivate political will and advance our environmental responsibilities.
To see Mayor Watson committing the city to a renewed climate change plan follow this link.
Remarks of Alex Wood, the keynote speaker at the Greenhouse Gas Roundtable can be seen here.
Public support for the climate change issue is so high that volunteer minute-takers attended the roundtable and a volunteer-generated “people’s” GHG Roundtable report is now being produced. Watch for it at Ecology Ottawa’s Facebook Page.
Thank you for your part in making these advances possible. Please stay with us as we work for even greater gains.