The goals of Daniel Buckles’ presentation to the CCA General Meeting on February 18, 2020, were:

  • to show why a climate-positive Official Plan is important to communities.
  • to show what community associations can do to press the City to go further and faster on climate measures in the Official Plan.

A synopsis of his presentation is given below, and the complete copy of Daniel’s presentation is also available in PDF format (2.0 Mb).

The Climate Atlas of Canada indicates that Ottawa will experience considerably wetter springs and winters, much warmer winters, and a significant increase in very hot days (over 30 degrees C), which will increase the number/severity of floods and increase heat island effects.

What has that got to do with municipal politics?

Ottawa declared both a Climate Emergency and Housing and Homelessness Emergency — it should also be doing things to address those emergencies.

However, indications are that changes to the Official Plan will include urban expansion, which will address both emergencies negatively.

Experts say that new urban areas cost taxpayers 30% MORE than creating new homes in already-existing urban areas.

Rural/village residents want to protect Ottawa’s farmland and rural areas for future generations of young farmers. Also, Ottawa could produce more of its own food than we do now; we still need that farmland.

Many people care about having a “15-minute neighbourhood”, where grocery stores, parks and libraries are within walking distance from their home. Urban sprawl is the opposite of a 15-minute neighbourhood.

Urban sprawl increases carbon emissions through 1000’s of additional kms of commuter driving; while Ottawa should be reducing GHG emissions from transportation. On top of that, it would undermine the City’s Climate Change Master Plan by locking in a carbon emission future much higher than it needs to be.

New single family homes on the outskirts of Ottawa are less affordable than homes in low-rise, multi-unit sustainable buildings that can be built or redeveloped in many neighbourhoods throughout the city.

We urgently need to change that policy recommendation and influence the Council vote.

So what can citizens and community associations do?

Work as an association to engage with your Councillor, and other Councillors, to make it clear that the Official Plan is the place to set policies that truly respond to the twin emergencies of climate and housing and homelessness. This starts with holding the line on urban expansion, and fostering just, healthy and sustainable neighbourhoods. The Official Plan is the most significant policy tool available to residents and to Council for shaping our collective response.
Let’s make sure we do it well.