News / Ottawa

Ecology Ottawa says city budget won't fight climate change fast enough

Green group disappointed in city's step.

Climate change was front and centre this year, as Ottawa experienced a year of wild weather. Climate change advocates say its time for the city to do more.

Justin Tang / The Canadian Press

Climate change was front and centre this year, as Ottawa experienced a year of wild weather. Climate change advocates say its time for the city to do more.

Ecology Ottawa is disappointed the city is not putting its money where its mouth is in its proposed budget, which contained $500,000 in new money for the city's flagship green energy policy.

The non-profit organization was calling for at least $1.5 million in new money. Mayor Jim Watson, in his tabling of the draft budget, said that the city "will be investing more than $2 million in various sustainability initiatives."

While that number appeared, at first glance, to go above and beyond Ecology Ottawa's ask it turned out to be a bit misleading, since $1.5 million of that money was already committed for the environment and climate protection committee under phase one of the Energy Evolution plan.

"$500,000 just isn't enough," said Robb Barnes of Ecology Ottawa. "Phase one won't get us to our emission reduction targets." He did add, however, that he was happy to see the city is concerned about climate change, calling any funding "a meaningful step forward."

"That seems like they're expecting that one particular fund to do a lot of work," said Barnes.

Crucially, said Barnes, the announcement also didn't include provisions to increase staff working on the climate file.

"Had they had more adequate staffing, had they prioritized this more," he said, "you'd be seeing a more complete plan.

"They know the people want action on climate change, but they're not willing to fork out the cash."

Barnes argued that the city should fasttrack its analyses of where green improvements could be made. Most of those analyses of the big polluters—namely, buildings and transit—won't be done until 2020 in the current schedule, which means major action will also have to wait.

City staff call the funding "significant," and add in their report to the environmental committee that the money will also allow them to leverage funding from higher levels of government through environmental grants.

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