What Happened at Environment Committee Tuesday

For Nancy Biggs, it’s personal.

Though a member of myriad boards and committees across the city, she addressed the Environment Committee as an individual whose family has lived in Ottawa for six generations.

“We are seeing more freezing rain events, heavy rainfall causing flooding and sinkholes, as well as an increase in heat waves”, she explained.

“Ottawa’s climate has changed.”

This direct, personal, message was the theme that ran through half a day of public delegations at Tuesday’s Environment Committee meeting, as councillors met to discuss the Term of Council Priorities.

The Priorities document – almost certain to be passed by the full Council – lays out the initiatives that will receive both attention and funding from the city over the next three years. Climate change receives but faint mention.

One by one, concerned citizens, environmental groups and representatives from faith and First Nations communities stepped up to address Council. None was sufficiently naïve to think they could sway the committee’s decision, but all were willing to take time out of a workday to make sure the message got through.

If councillors want to know what specific actions they can take to address climate change, it seems they won’t have to look far for suggestions.

David Rhynas of 350 Ottawa requested the City divest itself from fossil fuels.

Don Grant of Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict proposed collaboration with property managers for a LED street lighting upgrade in the downtown core.

Charlotte Scromeda of Faith and the Common Good stressed the importance of a land acquisition strategy.

Gaye Taylor of Cool it for the Kids brought children's own views and voices into the committee meeting with a three minute video.

The fact that opposition to the Energy East pipeline was not dealt with in the document was noted more by more than one speaker and picked up by Metro News.

And many hammered home the point that the City is not doing enough to measure its progress as was reported by the Ottawa Citizen.

There was a clear sense that this message, at least, was getting through. Councillor Leiper took to asking public delegations for their thoughts on how and what to measure. Later he successfully moved a motion to add a city Forest Management Strategy to the list of strategic initiatives in the document - a recommendation that Ecology Ottawa had also made.

Councillor Qaqish pleaded with staff  “somebody please tell me about divestment.”

In the end, as expected, the Priorities were approved with little fanfare. But all the talk was about the public concern over climate change.

In all, 16 public delegations took turns sitting in front of the Council table and making clear that, while councillors may be undecided on the question of priorities, Ottawans are definitely not.

“We need to raise the bar higher [for climate action]”, Biggs told the committee. “This needs to be recognized in the Term of Council Priorities.”

Like others, Biggs has taken this issue to heart. Committee members had no choice but to receive that message.

Ecology Ottawa is seeking written versions of Environment Committee submissions and will post them here.

The presentation of Charles Hodgson on behalf of Ecology Ottawa

As you know Ecology Ottawa and our supporters have taken a lot of interest in the Term of Council Priorities.

This is not only because we were told that it represents the mechanism by which the climate change plan would get funding, but because the document sets out environmental directions the city will take for years to come.

Ecology Ottawa has already published two responses to the proposed Term of Council Priorities, a 3 page summary for our supporters and a 14 page analysis for discussion.

We’ve had strong interest in these documents from our supporters. They are on our website but I’ve also shared the links with the committee coordinator so they can be found by councillors and staff among the submissions to this committee.

With respect to healthy watersheds we’re very pleased to see a commitment to a new Water Environment Strategy. What’s lacking though is any mention of green infrastructure or low-impact development. We recommend that “green infrastructure” be explicitly included in the Term of Council Priorities

With respect to tree cover we’re very pleased that the city is partnering with groups like ours in an effort to plant one million trees for Canada’s 150th birthday. What’s missing though is a new Forest Management Strategy. We recommend that a new Forest Management Strategy be explicitly included in the Term of Council Priorities.

With respect to transportation we’re very pleased to see a lot of emphasis on walking cycling and public transit. Again though, there is something missing and in this case it is the fact that a complete streets policy is not mentioned. We recommend that a new Complete Streets policy be explicitly included in the Term of Council Priorities.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, we are pleased to see that implementation of the climate change management plan is included in the Term of Council Priorities. But here again there’s something lacking.

Mayor Watson promised at the time of the GHG Roundtable that the city would set and exceed greenhouse gas reduction targets. Yet greenhouse gas reductions are not one of the measures of success listed in the Term of Council Priorities.

We have seen Mayor Watson when he is pushing for initiatives like light rail or the Ottawa River Action Plan. He:

  • rallies the bureaucracy;
  • puts out a compelling vision;
  • proposes a substantial investment;
  • spells out what he needs from the federal and provincial government; and
  • works hard to make it all happen
During the 2014 election campaign Mayor Watson agreed that the City has “a moral and ecological responsibility” to address climate change.

The Mayor should throw his weight behind his words because ambitious action on climate change will achieve lasting and important gains across the entire environmental portfolio.

The presentation of Nancy Biggs
Thank you for allowing me to speak. Although I am a member of the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee, a volunteer with Ecology Ottawa and a past Board Member of Citizens for Safe Cycling, I am speaking today as an individual. My family has lived in Ottawa for 6 generations and the changes to the environment have been great, much due to the growth in population. Ottawa’s climate has changed. The 2005 Climate Change Management Plan noted that the average temperature in Ottawa has gone up 1⁰C from normal, over a 30 year average. We are seeing more freezing rain events, heavy rainfall causing flooding and sinkholes, as well as an increase in heat waves. We are a lucky city and don’t have to take such drastic actions as my brother-in-law living near Melbourne did this past year, building an underground bunker to take shelter in during  a bushfire. While living outside of Melbourne, I have personally experienced a bushfire coming within 1km of my family’s home. It’s a very frightening experience and one that we are seeing happen more often in Canada and the US because of climate change.

The 2005 Climate Plan set targets to reduce CO2 emissions at 30% by the city corporation and 20% by the community from 1990 levels. Many of the specific recommendations for GHG reductions have not been achieved. Targets were set with emissions reduction measured by the actual volumes in metric tonnes of CO2. It is the total amount of CO2 emissions that is critical. For example, one goal in 2005 was to “Increase Transit ridership by 4.5% per year to increase modal share. Control Parking Supply and pricing “with a reduction potential of 9,000 tonnes per year”.

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail compared how reducing emissions to targets set by the G7 is “similar to engaging your car’s brakes: Start early, and the process is smooth and steady. Wait too long, and you’ll feel a jolt”. To avoid the jolt we need a reduction rate of 5% per year starting in 2015 to avoid having to reduce emissions by 9% per year if we put it off until 2020. The City of Ottawa, in the 2014 Climate Plan has set its target at less than half that rate at 2% per year. We have to raise the bar higher. This needs to be recognized in the TCPs.

What has been achieved so far? In 2004, Ottawa’s emissions per capita was 7.3 T and in 2012 it was 5.8 T. That sounds good, but actually, most of this drop in CO2e was due to the provincial government closing its coal fired power stations. Ottawa’s population is projected to grow by 1% per year, reaching a population of 1,031,000 by 2021. Therefore, 5.8 T per capita per year would mean a 10% increase in emissions from 2012 to 2021. I apologize about all the numbers, but it’s the numbers that count!

The elephant in the room is that 95% of Ottawa’s GHG emissions are from the community as opposed to city operations.

The City acknowledges that protecting air quality and adapting to climate change will require changes in the community’s habits, lifestyles and daily behaviours. If the City is truly serious about reducing its total emissions, it must get the community involved. Maybe by starting an advertising campaign, much like an anti-smoking campaign, which would help to educate, promote, incent and facilitate changes in community behaviour to significantly reduce their emissions. Possibly the City could provide and app on its website that allows Ottawans to calculate their carbon footprint and suggest how they can make it smaller.

The TCPs that fall under the lens of the Environment Committee are more about how city operations can reduce its GHG emissions, when the focus should be on the community, as they produce 95% of Ottawa’s emissions. Reducing the community’s GHG emissions should be included in the TCP priorities.

The presentation of David Rhynas on behalf of 350 Ottawa
Good morning and thanks for the opportunity to comment on the Term of Council Priorities.

My name is David Rhynas and I'm representing 350 Ottawa, the local chapter of 350.org.  350 is a world-wide grassroots movement raising awareness about climate change. The number 350 is the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide in parts per million, deemed by scientists as a safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere.  Last year 2014 was the hottest year on record. Right now the concentration of carbon dioxide is just over 400 parts per million, the highest it’s been in the last 800,000 years, and on the way to 600 parts per million by the year 2050, which will have a further driving impact on temperature.

We are heartened that Sustainable Environment Services and the 2014 Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan have been included as part of the proposed Term of Council Priorities; but the City needs to be doing more.  In particular, there should be specific performance measures such as improved Greenhouse Gas Inventories for tracking Ottawa’s progress in reducing emissions, both for City operations and the general public.  As a minimum, the objectives should align with the 2024 per capita target cited in the climate plan.  Better still, the City should match the more aggressive targets announced by the Ontario Government in May.

To step back and put things in broader context, I’d like to draw your attention to three trends.

Trend Number 1. If our society continues business as usual, then the world is on track for an average temperature increase that will well exceed 2 degrees Celsius with a devastating impact on the number of extreme weather events … such as heat waves, flooding, drought, which in turn will lead to more famine and wars.

So in effect we are on a final countdown to a dramatic change to civilization as we know it, within just the next few decades. The change can either be managed and graceful or chaotic and harsh.

Trend Number 2.  Last week the G7 leading industrial nations, including Canada, agreed to cut greenhouse gases by phasing out the use of fossil fuels by the end of the century, with an interim goal of 70% reduction by 2050.  This historic announcement sets the stage for some binding agreements at the Paris climate talks later this year.

Vancouver City Council also made history by voting to support a shift to 100 per cent renewable energy by the year 2050, becoming the first city in Canada to take this step.

These are positive developments but it’s like trying to turn a huge tanker and may prove to be too little too late.

Trend Number 3. To shift the economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy, our society needs to remove the subsidies and financial incentives for oil, gas and coal. To this end, many organizations – churches, universities, city governments, and others – have committed to fossil-fuel divestment, that is freezing new investments in fossil-fuel companies and setting a schedule for moving existing investments out of fossil fuels.

Right now roughly 9% of the City of Ottawa's 250 million dollar Endowment Fund is invested in oil and gas stocks. Our City should consider divesting itself from these holdings. Fossil-fuel divestment makes sense ethically and practically. Ethically, if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage. Practically, it signals to other investors and governments that financial markets are greatly overvaluing the fossil-fuel reserves, 80% of which must be left in the ground if we are to keep the world-wide temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius.

In summary, 350 Ottawa encourages the Environment Committee to:

1)  approve the Strategic Objectives and Initiatives associated with Sustainable Environmental Services in the current draft of the Term of Council Priorities;

2)  recommend the addition of specific performance measures to track the City’s reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, both for corporate operations and the general public. The objectives should align with the targets announced by the Ontario Government in May;

3)  recommend a review of the City’s investment policy.  Divestment from fossil fuels would make the strong statement that the City of Ottawa is taking leadership on climate change action, and would place our city on the right side of the defining issue of our time.

Presentation of Gaye Taylor on behalf of Cool it for the Kids

Presentation of Liz Bernstein on behalf of Lowertown Community Association

Ms. Bernstein spoke of her personal family experience in the wake of hurricane Katrina. She noted that she recently returned from visiting and ten years later larger cities like New Orleans or smaller ones like that of her parents', Bay St Louis, are still struggling with recovery. Municipalities will pay one way or another, if we do not invest now, we will have to pay more later.

She noted she was speaking on behalf of 20 community associations calling for action, which indicated people and organizations across the city take this critical challenge of our time very seriously. She then presented the list of the 20 community associations and 7 other groups which have co-signed a letter to the mayor urging action on climate change as a Term of Council Priority, and funding in Strategic Initiatives this year, as well as in city budgets for subsequent years.

She closed with a note on her experience in organizing, with Nobel Women's Initiative, an event with women from across the city on the dangers of the proposed Energy East pipeline. The main concern raised by women was that of climate change. Women, community associations and organizations across the city are asking for leadership from our representatives.

Presentation of Shelley Page
I’m a mother of two and a 28-year resident of this community. In my family, we care deeply about the environment and climate change and like so many in our community, have taken many individual actions to reduce our carbon footprint.

We take public transit to school and work and play, reserving our one car for kids activities that can’t be reached by bus. And we car pool.

I telecommute and take the train when I travel to my office in Toronto.

We live in an 1889 cottage and have never upsized – even though we need more room. We have stayed where we are so we don’t consume more than we need to – and that includes hydro and electricity.

I live in the Westboro Beach area where most of my neighbours share these same values and concerns.

All of that being said, dealing with climate change is so much more than anyone individual or family can do.

Those of us who are motivated to do something about climate change can’t carry the weight on our individual shoulders.

We are looking to our local government to both be role models in this area and provide leadership on how we can take action.

When the Term of Council Priorities were recently released, many of us were anxious to see how the issue of climate change would be tackled.

I’d like to congratulate you for the leadership role you are taking to on the corporate side, as an example, lowering emissions and setting targets for city vehicles.

But corporate emissions account for only five per cent of the total greenhouse gases.

As a community, how do Ottawans come together to tackle the rest, which is a significant amount?

The question is left unanswered.

The priorities document is definitely oriented to action on climate change – with some specific objectives that can measure certain areas of success

But –there is no mention of reducing Ottawa’s overall greenhouse gas emissions in the proposed Term of Council Priorities (or using reductions as a way to measure success).

At the end of your term, voters won’t know if we’ve moved the needle on reducing greenhouse gases.

That’s worrisome. And disappointing.

During the 2014 election I was in the audience when the Mayor Jim Watson acknowledged that the City has “a moral and ecological responsibility” to do its fair share to fight climate change.

The city’s priority initiatives related to renewable energy,  energy efficiency, cycling, walkability, public transit, watersheds, trees, nature conservation, waste, emergency preparedness, etc. all relate to climate change.

This is why the climate plan cuts across so many environmental files, and why the climate plan is a lens through which a wide range of environmental issues can be advanced.

As such, for those who care about the environment in general, the full implementation of the climate plan seems to be the the best single way to ensure that the environment is a priority in our city.

As a city as a whole, we need ambitious targets --- akin to what the province of Ontario recently set – and a strategy for how to meet those targets, and measure them, so we can work toward a common goal.

I am hoping that the city, and Mayor Watson support ambitious action on the climate change plan

We have an opportunity to be a city that is a leader in tackling climate change.

Presentation of George Sorger on behalf of concerned citizens of Vanier
The Energy East Pipeline may threaten our drinking water and the health of Ottawa’s citizens is a priority, therefore we (the Vanier Citizens Action Committee on the Environment ) request that the city conduct a professional risk assessment,  and based on it, come to a decision regarding the acceptability of said pipeline. This decision should then be made known to the National Energy Board at the City of Ottawa’s intervention at its hearings.

The proposed Energy East pipeline crosses the Mississippi river, carrying 100 million litres of diluted bitumen per day. At this volume, it is just a matter of time before there is a leak and/or spill into the river, which empties into the Ottawa river upstream of the two water purification plants of Ottawa, that draw water from said river.  At a consultation meeting between the Ontario Energy Board and the public (22/01/2015), experts informed us that if there were a spill, it would take more than 20 minutes to stop it and more than a million litres of diluted bitumen would spill into the river. Two thirds of this spill would be tar, which would be nearly impossible to clean up (a spill of this sort occurred into the Kalamazoo river years ago and despite major efforts has resisted clean-up) and would leach toxins and carcinogens, the other third would be the diluent, which is partly water soluble, contains the carcinogen benzene, and the water purification system is not built to remove it.  An even more likely scenario is that the pipeline would have a slow undetectable leak, because it would not cause a noticeable decrease in pressure within the pipeline, and would contaminate our drinking water over a longer period.

Given the above possibilities it would seem that the responsible thing for the City to do as a priority is to carry out a professional risk assessment and respond to its results according to the gravity of the health risk to Ottawa citizens indicated by them

Presentation of Charlotte Scromeda on behalf of Faith & the Common Good
Good afternoon. My name is Charlotte Scromeda, and I represent Faith & the Common Good, a national, interfaith network working for the common good to protect the environment. We support faith communities from very diverse backgrounds that share a desire to safeguard our ecosystems, and we believe that through collaboration and understanding we can achieve our common goals. In addition to hosting green events, our “Greening Sacred Spaces” program helps faith communities in their greening efforts by providing a variety of resources and information. Our new “Mission Per Square Foot” program aims to assist in the revitalization of faith buildings to maximize sustainability and serve the larger community. The environment is something that we all share, and therefore as an organization, as members of faith communities, and as citizens of this city, we support the City of Ottawa’s proposed Term of Council priorities relating to the environment.

Faith & the Common Good sees climate change as one of the most pressing issues currently facing our society. We are very happy that the city has identified attending to climate change as a Term of Council priority. The sooner we confront these challenges, the easier it will be to move forward as a green society.

Additionally, as a young adult who has lived in Ottawa most of my life, I am also deeply invested in Ottawa’s development into a greener city. Ottawa is home to a lot of youth, many of whom seek alternative, less expensive, and greener modes of living. I am glad to see that the Term of Council priorities address the need for action regarding climate change, so that youth such as me can look forward to a greener future for our city.

Faith & the Common Good believes that transitioning to a Renewable City is the best economic and environmental development strategy available currently. It won’t be easy, and it will take a lot of time and effort, but starting as soon as possible is extremely important. We offer our enthusiastic support for the Renewable Energy Strategy as a method of achieving this goal. By determining the current status of energy supply and demand and examining our options for energy efficiency for the future, we will be taking a vital step forward towards a Renewable City.

Our organization encourages land acquisition, the creation of green buildings, and the protection of green spaces through our various programs and initiatives. We believe strongly in the need for dedicated funding for land acquisition, which was lacking from the Term of Council priorities. The city needs to complete the work of setting up a mechanism to finance and acquire land, and to budget for an annual contribution. We are glad that the city is committed to forest management. The Increase Forest Cover Initiative will help preserve green spaces that are important to our city’s communities.

Furthermore, under our “Greening Sacred Spaces” program, Faith & the Common Good supports communities engaged in promotion of sustainable transportation. We applaud the City of Ottawa’s commitment to public transit, cycling, and walkability. Sustainable, affordable, and safe transportation options are important to building strong communities and encouraging people of all ages and cultures to be active and to participate in society.

Finally, the implementation of a sustainability lens to decision-making is a very significant move for the city. As an organization, we recognize that sustainability can and should be a consideration when making important decisions, whether these decisions relate to the well being of a faith community or to the future of the nation’s capital.

Thank you very much for your time.

Presentation of Adrienne Yuen on behalf of the city's Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee
Good morning Committee members.  My name is Adrienne Yuen and I am here on behalf of the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee, a diverse group of citizens appointed on a voluntary basis to provide advice to City Council, through this Standing Committee, on policies and programs relating to the environment.  Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Proposed Term of Council Priorities.  You will hopefully have seen the document containing our feedback, circulated yesterday by our coordinator, so I will present highlights rather than go through every detail.

Broadly speaking, ESAC is supportive of the Strategic Objectives, Initiatives, and Performance Measures laid out in Section 5.  Many of the Performance Measures are very specific; several of the items are self-explanatory and reasonably ambitious.

Other items, in our view, could be strengthened.  For example, the Performance Measures for Initiative #20, the Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan, could include additional indicators to track progress of the Plan, such as concentrations of urban air pollution and tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere, rather than only how much electricity or fuel the City is consuming.  Moreover, the Green Municipal Fleet Plan and the Green Building Policy also appear to be lumped together with the AQCCMP under item #20, while budget estimates are only given for the Air Quality & Climate Plan, so we recommend clarifying how funding will be split between these three initiatives.  Further, as the AQCCMP is laid out within a 20-year timeframe, for accountability purposes the TCP should specify which of the plan’s actions will be completed by when.

There is also room for improvement with respect to Initiative #22, the Renewable Energy Strategy.  For instance, energy includes electricity, thermal energy, and energy for transportation, so any baseline analysis of supply and demand should take these three distinct sources into account.  The City would ideally work with the Province’s existing Integrated Regional Resource Plan on this, in order to provide the data to shift towards a greater share of renewable energy, as the City of Vancouver has pledged to do.  Some measures are refreshingly low-tech, such as planting green roofs, which would lower electricity demand simply by reducing the urban heat island effect.

With respect to waste, we noticed that residential waste diversion was not included in this section.  This could be amended by including a reference to the Waste Master Plan, with specific initiatives to divert organic waste from landfill, such as removing barriers to implementing the program in high density residential buildings and making organics separation and storage facilities a mandatory requirement of new development approvals.

ESAC also identified best practices from other jurisdictions that the City could consider to enhance existing plans.  For example, in 2012 the City of Kitchener approved a policy providing credit to property owners who use Best Management Practices to mitigate stormwater runoff entering the municipal system.  Toronto’s Deep Lake Water Cooling system is another good example, and the construction of the Combined Sewer Storage Tunnel provides an opportunity to adapt this concept.

These are just the highlights; further details and comments are in the document before you.  I encourage you to refer to it for the full list of our recommendations.

In conclusion, the Terms of Council priorities as written in this document are good, but can aim for much more.  Although organizations do have their respective spheres of influence, we hope that the City can consider raising its own environmental ambition by setting tougher targets, studying best practices from other jurisdictions; and ensuring that performance indicators are specific enough to properly measure and account for progress.

Thank you very much.


Presentation of Don Grant on behalf of Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict

This summarizes the key points that Don Grant made in his presentation today at Environment Committee.
  • The Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict (OCED) is supportive of the plan and in fact our question is how can we help? We have enjoyed a very good working relationship with the City of Ottawa to this point as well as Invest Ottawa, Hydro Ottawa and over 50 other community partners.
  •  Our EcoDistrict Network includes almost 40 Champions (organizations inside of the EcoDistrict) and Ambassadors (supporters outside of the EcoDistrict). Members of the network are active in supporting us as we work towards our goals. We also have strong connections with the local electric vehicle (EV) community.
  • We would like to see if the City can implement the LED street lighting upgrade in the downtown core in 2016 as part of the rollout. We would then work to get property managers to switch their exterior lights to LED to make the whole area an LED zone. This ties in very nicely with the National Capital Commission’s (NCC) plan to focus on illumination in the coming year.
  • We are encouraged to hear that the City will be convening a downtown working group and focusing on EV policy and support (as noted in the original AQCCMP). We are available to help with both of these projects.
  • We are also hopeful that the dialogue on local improvement charges will continue. Our work will be with commercial buildings and multi-residential buildings but if we can help we will.
  • We would like the City to consider requiring the mandatory disclosure of energy and water performance by commercial buildings. In the UK, Australia and in several US municipalities this is the law. The City needs data to assess community emissions and we believe that disclosure will focus attention on energy and water use and will make it easier to convince the owners of older buildings to upgrade their buildings. We would be happy to lead this research with support from the City.
Presentation of Lynda Kitchikeesic

(coming soon we hope)

Presentation of David Beddoe on behalf of Ottawa-Gatineau Greenpeace

Presentation of Duncan Bury

Presentation of Brian Tansy on behalf of  Zero Waste Alliance

Presentation of Bill Toms

Presentation of Marwan Ghalib on behalf of Sustainable Eastern Ontario

(coming soon we hope)

In addition, several speakers were registered to present to Environment Committee but were unable to stay the full length of the meeting. Here are their notes.

Notes of Mark Brooks

I had hoped to give my perspective as an instructor at Algonquin College to relay what some of my students say about their lack of faith in the political process and how meaningful action by the city on climate change represented a real opportunity for council to show some major leadership and inspiration for these young people.
Notes of Sucha Mann on behalf of the Ottawa Chapter of Professional Engineers Ontario

(coming soon we hope)

Notes of Janice Ashworth on behalf of Ottawa Renewable Energy Coop

Unfortunately I had to leave prior to being able to present these comments to the Committee yesterday, but I hope that you will consider them in your ongoing discussions of the term of Council Priorities.

I am speaking to you on behalf of the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op’s 400+ members, 600 supporters, and 700 followers. For background, we are a green electricity generator in Ottawa currently providing 1MW of green power to the Ottawa grid from solar rooftop projects. These projects represent $5 million in assets, the majority of which has been invested by OREC members through our security offerings to date.

We have 2 main comments to share today.

  1. There is an omission of baseline data and measurement protocols of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly the community emissions which are 95% of our emissions as a City. As the Mayor himself stated, the City has “a moral and ecological responsibility to do its fair share” with regards to climate change. To do so, we need targets and measuring protocols that are in line with international standards.
  1. Our second comment is on the energy components of the term of council priorities. Shifting our energy sources to sustainable energy sources is the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is that there is a business case to be made for renewable energy.
Energy is used for three main purposes, transportation, electricity, and heating/cooling of spaces. Our renewable energy strategy needs to consider all of these functions of energy so that we can find the most effective strategy to reducing emissions.

Solar power production on city buildings was specifically mentioned as a priority. For background, in 2011 the City approved Energy Ottawa to run a pilot of 20 solar rooftop projects on the city’s most viable buildings. To date, only 8 of these are under development to be connected by 2016. These projects should take no more than 2 years to develop, so there are delays in the buildout that could be facilitated by Public Works and the Real Estate and Property Department.

Also, this initial goal is un-ambitious, considering there are tens of thousands of solar installs across the province because of the clear and stable business model created by the FIT program. This also means private capital is available for these projects. If the City is serious about achieving more solar on City buildings, a simple direction to Public Works would expedite at least completing the pilot project initiated 4 years ago.

This Term of Council document suggests that the City is looking to expand beyond the pilot program. I would like to bring it to the attention of Council and City Staff that the next Feed-In Tariff application window is expected to open in September, which provides 20 year contracts to produce green power for the grid at a set rate per kilowatt hour, making the projects viable. I would like to ensure that Ottawa does not miss this opportunity, as it could be the last FIT contract round.

I would also like to speak from our experience in engaging the community in the renewable energy transition. When individuals are invested in the renewable energy infrastructure, they are more aware of the effort to produce energy, thus the importance of conservation measures. This has been demonstrated by renewable energy co-ops in Europe with more years’ experience, and more data, than us. Our co-op is one vehicle to directly engage residents of Ottawa in the solar projects that the City aims to develop and keep money invested in the local community.

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