Ecology Ottawa Delegates on 2023 Climate Change Spending

Ecology Ottawa attended City Council's Environment and Climate Change committee meeting on March 19 to delegate about a staff report about 2023 spending on the Climate Change Master Plan (CCMP).

All in all, we were impressed: City staff had only $5 million to work with—yet they turned this into 26 different initiatives. (Download a PDF of the whole report here.)

In our delegation, we spoke to a number of these initiatives, as well as the urgent need to act on climate change, whether in light of global temperatures breaking records, Ottawa’s lack of cold temperatures this winter, or alarmingly early warnings about Quebec wildfires.

Staff’s responses to committee members’ questions following our delegation also illustrated how effective their use of these funds has been; for example, their retrofits to the Hintonburg Community Centre reduced emissions by 80%, which doesn’t even include the rooftop solar panels they plan to install.

Our main criticism is that staff need more funding to implement the CCMP—as we requested last November.

Please read our delegation below—or watch the recording!





Thank you for the opportunity to address you today on behalf of Ecology Ottawa.

I appreciate having this opportunity even though the issue before us isn’t a motion. I requested to speak today in light of the importance of the issue before us—that is, spending on our Climate Change Master Plan.

We at Ecology Ottawa found staff’s response to the inquiry on 2023 CCMP spending not only informative, but encouraging. Last year was the first year funding was earmarked specifically for the CCMP’s implementation—for which the mayor and Council should be applauded—and so it makes sense to review how we did.

So how did we do? Admirably, I think. I’ll highlight a few points in the response:

  • The third-party review of GHG inventories: solid data is critical to making informed decisions. While this inventory is coming later than we want, it’s still very welcome.
  • Pilot projects, like retrofitting the Hintonburg Community Centre and the Wastewater Energy Transfer pilot project: given that the funding earmarked for the CCMP in 2023—that is, $5 million—is inadequate for the plan’s full implementation, pilot projects make lots of sense. They allow us to test approaches or technology to help us better spend funding when more becomes available, whether through Council’s decision or from other levels of government.
  • Seeking and applying for funds from other levels of government: this amount to increasing the overall funding available.
  • District Energy and Community Heating Strategies: as we increasingly face extreme weather events—like last year’s tornados, flooding, and wildfire smoke—it is critical that our energy grid become more adaptable and resilient.
  • Residential and commercial building performance standards: as you know, buildings are the most significant source of GHG emissions in Ottawa, totalling around 45% of all emissions. Any progress to reduce these emissions is welcome—and given that we’ve committed to building 151,000 new homes by 2031, regulations like the High Performance Development Standards can’t come soon enough. I trust this Council will cease delaying the adoption of these Standards.
  • Building capacity: the Climate team is converting one temporary position to permanent, extending three temporary positions, and hiring nine new temporary staff. This steady increase means greater effectiveness in implementing the CCMP.

I’ll stop there for now. 

In short, the picture this document paints is of a strategic response to an evolving crisis. Somehow, staff was able to divide $5 million among 26 different initiatives. This is not “spreading their resources too thin,” as some have claimed; instead, this is admirable thriftiness with a small allotment of funds, and indicates that further investments would be well spent and would have significant impact. And if the slices of pie are too small for some, the solution is to enlarge the pie—as we urged last November when Budget 2024 was being considered. 

And implementing the CCMP’s goals is more urgent than ever. If anything, the effects of climate change seem to be accelerating:

  • February was the hottest month ever recorded, coming in at 1.77 degrees celsius warmer than the late 19th century.
  • This past winter was the first where the temperature in Ottawa never dropped below -20 degrees.
  • Quebec's fire monitoring agency (SOPFEU) issued fire warnings last week, the earliest in its history.

The need to take quick, decisive, and well-founded climate action to benefit all Ottawans is urgent. And this is what Ottawans want: one thousand signed our petition last summer calling for immediate climate action.

I trust this committee will continue to support staff’s sensible spending of the modest $5 million they’ve been given to implement the CCMP over the remaining 20 months of its effective horizon.

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