On Wednesday, November 4, 2020, Mayor Jim Watson presented the City of Ottawa’s draft 2021 budget. As the mayor noted, 2020 has been a year unlike any other in Ottawa’s history, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the daily life of all Ottawans, as well as on city finances.
Even in the midst of this crisis, the draft budget stays the course on a number of items affecting Ottawa’s environment. It is equally notable how the budget fails to follow through on major climate commitments, while continuing to spend tens of millions of dollars in roads and road-related projects.
When it comes to the environment, draft budget 2021 has somehow managed to be three things at once: a “mushy middle” budget, a sprawl budget, and a climate inaction budget.
The City of Ottawa just unanimously passed its renewable energy strategy, Energy Evolution. The annual price tag for this plan is $621 million. This year’s budget saw only a fraction of this amount committed by the City of Ottawa: $2.6 million, or less than 1% of the annual investment required. Further, even the limited funding behind Energy Evolution comes from a relatively unstable source: dividends from Hydro Ottawa.
The City must put its money where its mouth is on climate action. We encourage the city to integrate regular and stable funding for climate action as part of its regular budget, and to spend on Energy Evolution in line with its annual commitment.