ELECTION 2018

Environmental visions pitched during Rideau-Goulbourn debate

The two candidates vying to represent Rideau-Goulbourn ward presented separate visions for the environmental future of Ottawa at a debate in Richmond on Wednesday.

Incumbent Scott Moffatt faced off against David Brown in Wednesday night debate

Scott Moffatt, left, and challenger David Brown square off in a municipal election debate in Rideau-Goulbourn on Wednesday. (CBC)

The two candidates vying to represent Rideau-Goulbourn ward presented separate visions for the environmental future of Ottawa at a debate in Richmond on Wednesday.

The incumbent, Scott Moffatt, advocated for measured, achievable and tangible progress on waste diversion and environmental protection.

His challenger is David Brown, president of the Richmond Agricultural Society and Moffatt's former staffer.

He pitched infrastructure improvements such as bike lanes to reduce the ward's carbon footprint, and a vision for a waste-to-energy solution to keep garbage out of landfills. He also said he would examine a return to weekly garbage pickup in the summer months.

The candidates were asked repeatedly about how they plan to handle waste in the ward, especially given that it's home to the Trail Road Landfill. Residents also asked what they plan to do to protect the environment.

Realistic targets

Moffatt has been vocally critical of the city's environment and climate protection committee, of which he is a member.

That committee hasn't done much besides set unrealistic emissions-reduction targets with no clear plan to achieve them, he told the crowd.

He wants to focus on the impact of future development citywide, and on smaller projects like the one in Burritts Rapids using the Rideau River for renewable energy.

"I think [there should be] more focus on actual tangible things that benefit the community, as opposed to airy fairy policy suggestions and targets that are unreasonable," he said.

Avoiding the landfill

When it comes to waste diversion and the environment, Moffatt said he was disappointed that the city's relationship with Plasco did not work out. Other cities are employing similar technology but said they need more study.

In the meantime, he looks forward to seeing whether introducing plastic bags into the green bin program will help to keep recyclable and compostable materials out of the landfill.

Brown criticized council for not moving forward on the waste file after the city withdrew from the Plasco deal.

"I don't want to wait another 20 to 25 years," he said. "I'm sure there's a public-private partnership out there, if we look hard enough."

Growing pains

Both candidates told the crowd their biggest priorities this election are community planning and road maintenance.

The ward is experiencing a large growth in residential and commercial development, particularly in Richmond. That growth can be painful as residents deal with increased traffic and construction, but it can also have its benefits, Moffatt said.

As councillor, he said he would continue to advocate for complete communities as new developments bring new amenities like splash pads and community walking and cycling paths to the area.

He will also advocate for community services like the Richmond Health Centre so the village doesn't become simply a bedroom community, he said.

Brown said one of the pains associated with new growth is the deteriorating state of roads. While Moffatt said the rural areas of Ottawa get a fair share of road maintenance funds compared to the rest of the city, Brown suggested the ward may deserve more because residents have no choice but to drive.

He wants to see federal gas tax revenue apportioned to the city redirected from transit toward better road maintenance.