City hall graded on green initiatives

ON NOV. 23, Ecology Ottawa, a local non-profit organization that advocates for sustainability, released their Council Watch report card, grading the city’s councillors and mayor on their green initiatives.

The report was started by local organizations, like the Sierra Club of Canada-Ottawa Group, the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital, and the Coalition for a Healthy Ottawa, that wanted to bring awareness to the public about what their councillors are doing for the environment. This is the fifth annual report card for the city.

According to Trevor Hache, the policy coordinator for Ecology Ottawa, as the original organizations stopped working on the reports, Ecology Ottawa continued the initiative.

“At the time [other organizations] were doing their report card, they were just trying to let the citizens of Ottawa know what the environmental voting record was,” he said. “We just tried to carry on that work.”

Hache added the report is meant to benefit citizens who don’t have time to keep up with the city council on a daily basis, but still want to know what the city is doing in terms of environmental initiatives.

“Ecology Ottawa tries to, to some degree, act like a watchdog to the environment initiatives taken in city hall,” said Hache. “We’re hopeful if people are concerned about the environment, they will contact their city councillor.”

A team of volunteers who meet regularly throughout the year put together the report. The volunteers review what has been voted on during city council meetings, determine the environmental significance, and judge the individual votes.

Doug Thompson, the Osgoode councillor, received a D, the lowest grade of all reviewed, while David Chernushenko from the Capital ward and Diane Holmes from Somerset both scored A+s. Mayor Jim Watson got a B.

“Certainly the mayor is doing a lot better than his predecessor did,” said Hache. “The budget included a lot of environmental efforts in it.”

Hache said there’s always room for improvement for the city. On Oct. 5, Ecology Ottawa released budget recommendations to the city, outlining green initiatives Ottawa can implement in the near future.

“We think the city could be doing more with regard to renewable energy,” said Hache. “The city is prepared to lease some of its rooftops for solar energy projects. They could also work with Energy and Hydro Ottawa. We also want them to do more with regard to energy efficiency.”

—Jane Lytvynenko