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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 20 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. Our newest initiative is our Watch Party program. Please join us!

We also develop resources for learning about Council and engaging with it:

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, policy analysis, 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:

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.

Rain Ready Ottawa - Protecting our watershed and our basements

When it rains, do you think about where that water is going once it hits the ground? Stormwater actually plays a large role in the health of Ottawa’s creeks and rivers. Where it goes once it hits the ground and what it picks up along the way can heavily impact the aquatic habitats and recreational activities that the Ottawa River provides. So, what is being done to manage it?

Pushing changes into the draft Official Plan

The Official Plan is Ottawa’s major land use and policy document, and will shape our city for at least the next 25 years. Something this big demands major public engagement, and Ottawans have stepped up in a big way. We’ve seen 500-person rallies to stop sprawl, packed Saturday morning Zoom workshops on neighbourhood design, and overwhelming public input into arcane city processes. We’ve seen community outrage at last-minute land use decisions like the Tewin development, and missives from senior city officials pointing to “unprecedented engagement” from the public.

Whose road is it anyway?

Ottawa is an excellent cycling city—how many times have you heard this statement while talking with neighbours and friends? Although Ottawa may have an admirable collection of multi-use pathways (MUPs) that are safe and accessible for all users, ages, and abilities, they rely on a safe road network to connect them. Unfortunately, many of our roads lack the appropriate infrastructure needed to make them safe, jeopardising the accessibility of our cycling network. 

The Future of Ottawa Parks and Recreation: My Very First Consultation

A few weeks ago I had the chance to attend my first series of consultations held by the city of Ottawa. These consultations were regarding the future of parks and recreation in the city and consisted of 6 separate 2-3 hour long sessions. I must admit, at first I felt very out of place as I am only 18 years old and was surrounded by citizens that were often twice my age. While thrilling, I do not think I would have participated in these consultations if it wasn’t for my involvement with Ecology Ottawa. Nonetheless, it opened my eyes to the importance of getting involved in the community to impact positive change. 

Debunking The Myth That Climate Action Is Too Expensive

How many times have you heard political pundits say that the public supports climate action, so long as it doesn’t affect their pocketbook? This claim is based on a false assumption that climate action is unaffordable, and, unfortunately, this “myth of unaffordability” leads many political leaders to be too timid when it comes to properly financing climate change mitigation. We’re here to show the skeptics that investing in climate change mitigation, if done right, is actually a smart financial decision paying huge dividends.

Recycling in Ottawa Parks

How many times have you walked through a park and searched in vain for a recycling bin? Or gasped in horror at the overflowing garbage bin, full of plastic bottles and other recyclable materials?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: City’s proposed ‘Gold Belt’ is a mirage

(OTTAWA) – On January 16, on the heels of a May 2020 decision to expand Ottawa’s urban boundary, city planners released a draft report recommending the development of various parcels of land on the fringes of Ottawa’s urban area. Beyond the new land slated for development is a proposed “Gold Belt” that would create ultimate limits for Ottawa’s suburban communities. 

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