Council Strengthens Climate Protection – Thanks to You

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Thanks to you who have expressed your support for stronger climate change action at City Hall, City Council on February 24 adopted a stronger plan to tackle the problem.

Mayor Jim Watson encouraged his council to vote for the motion saying “we are taking this issue seriously” and that he’s had meetings with Ecology Ottawa and other groups over the last few weeks and the message he’s heard is much the same as he’s heard in the community.

David Chernushenko, who brought the issue to council, said “It's quite clear by the delegations and the public comments that the citizens of Ottawa are very much on side.”

Well over 60 people submitted material in support of the city's move to strengthen its role on climate change, including Ottawa Centre MP and Minster of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna. A dozen people signed up to speak to Environment Committee on February 16; an effort that required stick-with-it-ness  since the very first presentation was interrupted by a fire alarm and other presentations didn't wrap up until after a lunch break.

There was one change introduced at the full council meeting by Councilor Jan Harder (text of that below). This had the effect of broadening the effort to include greenhouse gas emissions implications of future new buildings and existing building stock as well as transportation. This is welcome news both in its expanded inclusion of GHG sources—Harder said “low hanging fruit is definitely cars, is definitely vehicles” and Chernushenko reminded council that some 80% of buildings that will make up the city in 2050 are already standing today—but is something of a climb-down with respect to minimum energy standards for new buildings which had been part of the paragraph that was replaced by Harder’s amendment.

In summary then, the will of Council is:

  1. That the City strenghten its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to match the more ambitious Ontario provincial target;
  2. That Mayor Jim Watson join an international climate initiative called “the Compact of Mayors”;
  3. That David Chernushenko work with multiple city departments and outside groups to generate an implementation plan to reach the more ambitious targets;
  4. That four chairs of city standing committees form a “sponsors group” to work with staff on ways to reduce emissions in buildings new and old, as well as in transportation and transit, plus work with the province on energy performance standards; and
  5. That the Environment Committee change its name to the Environment and Climate Protection Committee
Only three councilors voted against the initiative: George Darouze, Scott Moffatt, and Allan Hubley; meaning twenty one votes for.

The full text of the original motion can be seen here.

Jan Harder's amendment replaced

That staff be directed to assess the feasibility of developing and implementing minimum energy performance standards for new residential and commercial buildings and report back to Committee and Council; (para 2C ousted)


That staff, working with a Sponsors Group consisting of the Chairs of the Environment, Transportation and Planning Committees and the Chair of the Transit Commission, be directed to assess ways in which the City can help improve the energy performance of new and existing residential and commercial buildings (for example: a Green Building Checklist to promote sustainable new construction; a Green Retrofit/Renovation Checklist to promote the upgrading of existing buildings; Guidelines and resources for better building performance; and working with the Province of Ontario to progressively raise building energy performance standards mandated through the provincial Building Code) and report back to the appropriate Standing Committee(s) and Council with recommended approaches. (para 2C adopted)

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