Net-zero emissions plan a pipe dream without funding help, chair says

The chair of Ottawa's environment committee says it will be impossible for the city to fund a plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero over the next three decades without some help.

Road map for reducing greenhouse gases to be made public in December

Protesters gather outside Ottawa city hall on April 16, 2019, to demand council declare a climate emergency. (Kate Porter/CBC)

The chair of Ottawa's environment committee says it will be impossible for the city to fund a plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero over the next three decades without some help.

City staff have been working on the plan to cut emissions to zero by 2050 since city council declared a climate emergency in the spring. The plan will be made public in a few weeks, ahead of an environment committee meeting on Dec. 17.

That debate won't happen in time to be included in the city's 2020 budget, however.

The standing committee on environmental protection, water and waste management endorsed 2020 budget spending at its meeting Tuesday. The upcoming year will tackle climate change by way of $3 million to retrofit city buildings, and millions to boost the sewage treatment plant's ability to generate its own power.

The upcoming climate change report will present a bigger picture, longer term strategy, and an option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent, the city's current target. It will also present a more ambitious, aggressive model to hit net-zero emissions by 2050. 

Coun. Scott Moffatt, who chairs the committee, said upper levels of government will need to pitch in if the more ambitious target is going to be met.

"I think there's going to be a lot in the report that the city cannot fund. It'll be such a far-reaching report in terms of what needs to happen that it'll be near unaffordable for the city to do it on its own," Moffatt said.

Coun. Scott Moffatt chairs the city's environmental protection, water and waste management committee. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Steve Willis, the city's general manager of planning, infrastructure and economic development, said the report will present a range of strategies.

"What would it take to actually hit those emissions targets in all sectors of local economy? It's not just about the city, it's about what we as individuals would do and what businesses would do."

A second report on how to adapt and bolster infrastructure for the anticipated change in weather patterns will follow by March 2020.

Garbage fee rising $8

The committee approved other elements of the budget Tuesday, including $138 million to operate the solid waste, forestry and infrastructure departments, and $422 million for the drinking water, sewage and storm water systems.

For residents, that means an $8 fee increase for curbside collection, or $13.50 for units in multi-residential buildings, mostly due to new waste collection contracts.

Steve Willis, general manager of planning, infrastructure, and economic development. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

The storm water fee will rise by 9.6 per cent in 2020.

The cost of capital projects is an especially big part of the environment committee's budget — more than $250 million for 2020 — because of the billions of dollars worth of water mains and other infrastructure it maintains across a wide expanse.

For instance, it will spend $16 million on a new water main from Riverside South to Manotick, nearly $20 million to fix and replace culverts across the city, and more than $15 million at the city's two water filtration plants.


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