The regional municipality and a group of creative videography students in Halifax have created an astoundingly excellent 5-minute video that sets out every reason why city trees are crucial to citizens' and the city's future.
The same reasons apply here in Ottawa, and it’s up to us to make sure city councillors and the mayor get the message.
On Monday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., councillors elected to represent you and me on Ottawa City Council will be sworn into office. Because the event is not open to the public, we’ll have to image what this unfolding of democracy looks like.
What we don't have to imagine is how important the next 4 years will be for the City of Ottawa.
A review of two tree by-laws is underway. It was launched in the spring of 2018, under auspices of the Urban Forest Management Plan. Learn more about how community associations and environmental groups from across the city have endorsed a package of changes to the by-law that deals with “distinctive” trees on private property. Our understanding is that revised by-laws will be presented to City Council for discussion and vote before March 31, 2019.
City council will discuss and write a new official plan for Ottawa. This is a major undertaking. The current official plan dates from 2003. One of its highlights was adoption of intensification as a primary policy in the urban core. This has led to a steady stream of new tax revenue for the city. Other impacts are the huge impact the policy has wreaked on trees and on the character of residential neighbourhoods, especially in Kitchissippi Ward. As climate action becomes less of a nice-option-when-we-get-around-to-it and more like the most vital issue facing urban governments around the world, how will the new official plan place trees and green building/transpo at the centre of municipal policy? Stay tuned for your chance to get involved in discussing and proposing options.
What can YOU do as city council convenes this month?
Write to your city councillor and copy Mayor Jim Watson on your email. Congratulate your councillor on being elected or re-elected. Tell them how important tree protection is to you. Consider saying something like this…
"As is now well established, trees are the most effective means currently available to sequester carbon, thereby mitigating climate change. They also provide many other benefits such as storm water management, shading to reduce energy costs, and clean air. As you know, trees on our streets and backyards and parks help make neighbourhoods livable and safe.
"As a city councillor, please ensure that changes to the city’s tree by-laws (with staff recommendations due by end of March 2019) will recognize and value these benefits. Across the city, councillors like you can act to ensure all neighborhoods gain from effective management of the urban forest. Visit this website to learn more about proposed amendments to tree by-laws endorsed by 23 Community Associations, 7 environmental organizations and the Biology Department of the University of Ottawa."