CAFES made public delegations to two standing committees on the city’s Draft Budget 2023.
The first was made by Mary Stuart at the Planning and Housing Committee meeting on February 15th, 2023. Mary spoke about the need for incentives to meet the city’s green building standard, the High Performance Development Standard, as no funding was allocated to this in the budget. Her public delegation emphasized that building better in the first place rather than retrofitting buildings later will save a substantial amount of emissions and money.
You can watch the recording of the Planning and Housing Committee meeting here
On February 21st CAFES ED Angela Keller- Herzog gave the first public delegation at the Environment and Climate Change Committee budget tabling meeting. First, the wins: Angela applauded the city for giving climate action a budget line rather than relying on Hydro Surplus dividends as a sole funding source. This is a big first step as the previous funding was off-budget, unreliable and unpredictable. Next, the city Finance Department has started to require a project climate lens for all capital projects in the budgets. CAFES is very pleased to see this development as we have been strong advocates for a climate lens.
Despite these improvements, we need to see more action on climate in the budget. Angela discussed the need for a long term financial plan for climate action, and the need for more funding than the allocated $5M for the Climate Change Master Plan to achieve the city’s climate goals. Next, Angela spoke on the climate lens to explain that we need it to capture what projects lead to increased emissions and climate impacts, not just emissions reductions (this is a pretty big blind spot in the current capital project climate lens tool!) Further, the climate lens should track progress on achieving climate plans (e.g. Energy Evolution), not just whether projects reduce emissions or not and we need to apply a climate lens to all major policies and projects.
Then, on greenspace Angela spoke to the need for more funding to protect greenspace, notably in light of Bill 23. Angela also questioned whether the very small increases in funds for the city’s forestry and natural spaces services will be adequate to continue their work on the city’s various canopy and greenspace plans and projects. Finally, Angela contrasted the city’s funding for grey infrastructure, such as the planned $21M road expansion of the Airport Parkway and only $5 M for climate action.
Phillipa MacDonald, a fourth year Carleton Environmental Studies Student who has been doing an academic practicum with CAFES, also made a public delegation. Phillipa spoke to the inacessibility of the city’s budget and the lack of meaningful opportunities for public consultation, notably for students. Phillipa also discussed the threat of Bill 23 to greenspaces and the implications of this for climate resiliency. The presentation ended with examples of the cost of the destruction caused by the May 2022 derecho to highlight the need for more funds toward climate resiliency.
CAFES Network Member Jennifer Humphries spoke on behalf of CAFES’ Tree Caucus on trees and greenspace. Jennifer applauded the city’s commitment to plant 250 000 trees each year over the next 4 years, and outlined the need not only to put resources toward planting trees, but also importantly to protect Ottawa’s existing canopy. Mature trees provide far more ecosystem services than young trees. Jennifer also pointed out the obvious importance given to grey infrastructure over green infrastructure in the budget. Finally, Jennifer explained that more resources are required to enforce Ottawa’s Tree Protection by-law and to improve it.