Ottawa will get warmer, wetter year-round environmental committee hears

OTTAWA – Ottawa will continue to get warmer and wetter year round, with a greater chance of extreme weather the city’s standing committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management heard yesterday (June 16) and received projections for climate conditions in the National Capital Region until 2100.

Advanced climate modelling was used to project changes in temperature, precipitation and seasons. Winter will be shorter, causing seasons to shift. Fall will start later while spring will start earlier. Days that are hotter than 30 degrees Celsius will be more common and precipitation will increase in volume and intensity. Climate variability from year to year will continue, with some years being much warmer or wetter than others. The greater the increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, the warmer it will be.

“These projections will help us better understand the impact of climate change on our communities, infrastructure, economy and natural environment,” city staff released in a statement. “Using these projections, staff will determine Ottawa’s vulnerabilities and assess the city’s adaptation measures. Staff will develop a Climate Resiliency Strategy next year to prepare Ottawa to adapt to changing climate conditions.”

The committee received an update on the development of the Solid Waste Master Plan. Staff started resident and stakeholder engagement this spring, with a focus on the City’s waste-management and diversion programs, upcoming legislative changes, emerging trends and practices in municipal waste management and the tools the city could use to influence waste management.

The city continues to provide safe and high-quality drinking water. The committee received an update on the regulatory compliance of the city’s drinking water systems in 2019. To keep the systems in good condition, the city has spent $29.5 million on upgrades and improvements since 2016.

The committee received on update on recent initiatives to improve pollinator health in Ottawa, including an educational event and a pollinator garden at City Hall. To better consider pollinators, staff are reviewing current practices around our roadside maintenance quality standards, the Community Environmental Projects Grant Program and the process to propose beautification projects for city property.

The first phase of a new Tree Protection Bylaw with new permit fees, fines and processes was scheduled to come into effect in May, however the city’s response to COVID-19 has delayed this work. The Committee approved a motion to accelerate part of phase two, which reduces the size of distinctive trees, to come into effect with phase one on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. The city would hire up to four temporary staff – using vacant positions – to implement provisions related to distinctive trees.

Recommendations from today’s standing committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management meeting requiring Council approval will rise to Council on Wednesday, June 24.

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