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Welcome to the Council Watch webpage! 

Council Watch is a volunteer-powered group coordinated by Ecology Ottawa that 

  • Identifies issues of ecological significance before Council
  • Recommends actions for Ecology Ottawa and/or the Ottawa ecology community to take on these issues
  • Publishes reports for the general public

Our goals with these activities are to increase the public’s awareness of ecological issues that come before Council, to empower the public with information to take ecological action, and to hold City Council accountable for their decisions.

Currently, we’re a group of around 15 volunteers. Apart from meetings of the entire City Council, we also monitor activities of the following committees/commissions: Environment and Climate Change, Transportation, Planning and Housing, and Transit. (See here for a complete list of committees.) We also monitor media and other reports of council activity.

We’re currently reviving Council Watch following a hiatus that included last fall’s elections. As we find our rhythm, we'll keep posting new reports below as well as other products that we think Ottawans will find useful—like our primer on City Council. (NEW: we just published our page with contact information for Council and for committees that we follow!) If there are any other resources that you'd like to see, please let us know!

If you’d like to join us, find out more about the group, or send feedback, please contact the group’s current coordinator, William van Geest. We welcome a variety of participation, including watching meetings, writing reports, producing media, keeping records, translating, or webpage support.

In the meantime, if you’d like to watch City Council on your own time, here are few resources to get you started:



On September 5, Ottawa City Council’s Finance and Corporate Services Committee met to discuss the shape of the 2024 budget—also known as “budget directions.” This was the first formal, public step in deliberations for the budget, which will be tabled to Council on November 8. The directions were approved with votes in favour by Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and 11 councillors after a presentation from city staff and public delegations.

Toronto city council recently approved changes to the city’s zoning by-laws that will allow the new construction of two-, three- and four-unit multiplexes in all residential zones, which were not previously allowed in many parts of the city. Although the housing crisis will not be solved by any one policy or approach, Toronto’s example here is one to follow as the population continues to grow and the cost of living in major cities remains prohibitively high.

Celebrating Canada Day in the nation’s capital is, for some, a sight to behold. This year, the evening fireworks show took place at LeBreton Flats, near Pimisi station. For those of us that are transit enjoyers, it represented an opportunity to celebrate the holiday in an accessible area. 

City Council recently approved its four pillars that will comprise the strategic priorities for this term, which lasts until 2026: affordable housing, safe, accessible transportation and mobility options, a prosperous and diversified economy, and creating a “green and resilient” city. While these priorities and their implications represent some worthwhile goals from the City, the presence of meaningful and proactive climate action is lacking. 

Ottawa set to sign Montréal Pledge on Biodiversity

The City of Ottawa looks likely to sign the Montréal Pledge on biodiversity. By signing this pledge, the City will make an important commitment to protecting biodiversity. However, along with the commitment, there needs to be accountability.

NIMBYism clashes with Ottawa housing goals

With a housing and homelessness emergency declared in Ottawa in 2020, it is no surprise that affordable housing was a major election issue last fall, with a campaign promise from Mayor Sutcliffe on creation of housing and a refreshed mandate for the Planning and Housing Committee that prioritizes housing affordability. However, when development applications for dense, car-lite residential buildings come to the Planning and Housing Committee, there is often a surprising amount of push-back.

The 2022 Derecho and Trees in Ottawa: Report

So just how many trees on City of Ottawa property were lost in the 2022 derecho?

City staff presented a report on this at today's meeting of City Council. Here's a summary, with the report below!

Transit Commission approves funding for electric transit buses

The circumstances behind the Transit Commission’s emergency meeting on January 27 gave cause for some suspicion. The meeting was called for the commission to approve the funding being directed to Ottawa’s planned Zero-Emission Bus (ZEB) acquisition, which includes a $350M grant from Infrastructure Canada and a $75M drawdown from the Canada Infrastructure Bank, before the city council draft budget meeting on February 1.

Evaluating climate in Ottawa’s draft budget

The city has tabled a tight new draft budget that contains several proactive investments in climate and just as many confounding steps backwards.

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