Candidates in Ottawa's Capital Ward promised to put environmental issues higher on the agenda in the next term of council and to create more ambitious environmental goals.
“The defining feature now for this coming term must be about climate,” said incumbent candidate David Chernuskenko at a debate on September 22. “Because climate breakdown is very much happening now and only accelerating.”
Chernushenko proposed adding an outline of the net carbon increase or decrease to any report coming before a committee or city council. He said this would ensure councillors know whether what they vote on will increase or decrease the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Shawn Menard questioned the effectiveness of the city’s Environmental and Climate Protection Committee, which Chernushenko is the chair of.
“What I’m concerned about in the city is the lack of progress we’ve seen,” he said. “This is the greatest threat facing the city of Ottawa and our children, and if we do nothing about it now it is them who will suffer.”
He proposed free public transit on some routes to get drivers off the road and to tackle the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by cracking down on building emissions.
Christine McAllister said she also supports adding a climate lense to the city’s decision making process. She said the city should dedicate more money for staff and environmental initiatives so that real progress can be made on issues. She also proposed installing recycling bins along Bank Street and other “green infrastructure” around the city.
Jide Afolabi said the city needs to think bigger when it comes to environmental goals and targets. Part of his platform is a by-law that would require new buildings to install green roofs, which he said would replace the green space that’s lost when a building goes up.
“This is not going to cost the city anymore but it will definitely mean we have a broad based impact,” he said. “A number of cities across our continent are beginning to realize this is a good idea, so I’d saying let’s have one too.”
Anthony Carricato said the city needs to do a better job at normalizing residents’ use of recycling and compost bins by putting more of them in city buildings and city parks. He said after a fundraiser at the Old Ottawa South community centre he wanted to compost leftovers, but the building lacked a green bin.
“If we want to encourage residents to us them, we should start by leading the way,” he said.
Candidates for mayor
Candidates for mayor also pitched their environmental platforms at a separate debate. Incumbent Jim Watson was absent from the debate that featured only six of the 12 total candidates running.
Bruce McConville said getting the Light Rail Transit system running should be the city’s top priority, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He said he would also recommend a review of all of the city’s current programs to make sure they are on track.
Clive Doucet, former Capital Ward city councillor, pitched his idea for a regional rail system as a way to reduce the amount of car congestion on city streets and to shorten commute times.
“The only way to free [roads] up and make Ottawa a greener city is to get more people on transit and right now transit doesn’t work,” he said.
Ahmed Bouragba said the city has to put more emphasis towards green business and should learn from the mistakes of other more environmentally friendly cities in Europe.
Hamid Alakozai said the city needs both long and short term plans on the environment that will work towards balancing the city’s budget.
Joey Drouin said his idea to merge the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau will simplify the government structure and make it better suited to lower emissions. He said the provincial border between the two cities makes it more difficult to solve sustainability and environmental issues.
Michael Pastien proposed using home compost bins instead of the current green bin program, which he called unsustainable because of the amount of plastic it takes to actually make the bins
The municipal election is on Oct. 22.