Committee passes green budget despite resource concerns
The draft budget has only $500,000 in new funding for green projects.
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The mayor’s 2018 draft budget took another trip through the ringer Tuesday, with members of the environment and climate protection committee questioning whether or not the city has the resources to make a meaningful effort to combat climate change.
The committee took a hard look at the numbers in the budget, hearing from a number of delegates who had a simple message: there’s not enough money in the budget.
But at the end of the day, the committee passed the draft budget without a single substantial alteration.
Coun. David Chernushenko, chair of the environment committee, said that a lack of spending on climate change is not the result of a lack of support, but perhaps a lack of seriousness.
“I’m getting a buy-in from everyone [on council],” he said. But, “I don’t believe that the majority of council or even the city population understands just how urgent and existential the changes that are going to be required are.”
The city’s draft budget has come under fire from environmental groups recently for including only $500,000 in new funding, all of which is allocated to a single program, the Community Energy Initiative Fund, a pot of money available to community groups requiring funding.
Coun. Catherine McKenney brought forward a motion that would have shifted some of that $500,000 to meet one of Ecology Ottawa’s requests, that the city fund more staff for the Smart Energy Office.
That motion, however, failed on a 4-4 tie, with Chernushenko—an environmentally-minded councillor —voting against it.
His rationale was that taking money away from community groups was the wrong call, even though he acknowledged how important staffing will be.
“You fight your fights, you push, you take your wins where you get them,” he said. “I would like more. This is as far as I could get at this time. I’ve chosen to support what I could get as opposed to saying ‘I’ and I’m voting against it. I’ll keep fighting that fight. Should I get reelected, I’ll keep fighting that.”